Former spokesman for the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas (rtd) has expressed doubts if Nigeria can eliminate Boko Haram terrorists by the end of this year.
President Muhammadu Buhari has given the military a marching order to end insurgency in North-East Nigeria and elsewhere by latest December, but Mr. Anas said that the December deadline for the defeat of the insurgents is not feasible.
Air Commodore Anas, who is now Executive Secretary of the Centre for Crisis Communication, CCC, told a press conference in Abuja yesterday that despite the great strides being recorded by the Nigerian military in the ongoing fight against Boko Haram insurgency, the time line on when to stop the insurgents from activating sleeper cells and detonating bombs into soft targets in any part of the country, especially in the front-line states is therefore not tenable in the current efforts by the armed forces of Nigeria.
The ex-Air Force officer admitted that while it might not be wrong to set targets for military operations in the North-East region, it must also be stated that this target date might be unrealistic.
He said, “This submission is predicated on the fact that asymmetric warfare which the Boko Haram is prosecuting against Nigeria is not such that can easily be stamped out by the Armed Forces,” he added.
Quoting the just-concluded United Nations General Assembly, Anas said “that terrorism as an ideology is largely emotive because it has to do with the mind. Force has never been known to combat, in a precise manner, any issue that has to do with the mind.”
He therefore urged Nigerians not to see the December target as sacrosanct when all suicide bombings will end.
The Centre stressed that “Similarly, we should also not trade blame with the military over the issue. Nigerians should rather continue to cooperate with the government and support the security forces to ensure that the enemies do not continue to have an opportunity to unleash terror in our country.”
Concerning the millions already displaced by the insurgency especially in the North-Eastern parts of the country, the CCC expressed concern about their plight, which it described as precarious and needing urgent attention.
“The Centre is strongly suggesting the establishment of a lead government agency that will develop a Marshall plan for the rehabilitation of all the displaced people in the North East.
“This could also be in the form of Inter- Ministerial Plan with an administrative office with a similar scope as the Presidential Amnesty Programme for the Niger Delta Youths. This will oversee the data capturing, profiling and rehabilitation of all the displaced people in the frontline states and other affected states of Nigeria.
“The plan will identify the priority areas of needs, skills and challenges with a view to settling them productively to avoid recourse to crimes or antisocial behaviour.”
The Centre for Crisis Communication equally noted the serious threats of secession in the past several months by a few individuals and groups in parts of Nigeria including some Yoruba elders and other Igbo groups.
“The Centre views this development as not only grossly uncharitable to the entire nation but unwarranted coming at a time the country is not only consolidating its nascent democracy but also celebrated its 100 years centenary and its fifty-first anniversary. These unfortunate secessionist agitations are also coming on the heels of the widely acclaimed free and fair elections that brought about a new government in Nigeria.”
Buttressing his point with video clips of leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu on his radio broadcast threatening to burn down Nigeria which he described as “Zoo”, Anas declared recent disruptive protests in some South East and South- South as condemnable.
He said “the Centre strongly believes that the issue of the State of Biafra was historically rested in 1970 following the end of the civil war. Therefore, secession should not be an option for any individual or group in Nigeria especially after the 30 months war that killed, maimed millions of lives and destroyed unquantifiable property and infrastructure. Unguarded statements and violent demonstrations are therefore unhelpful and capable of escalating unnecessary crisis. After monitoring activities of Radio Biafra, “it is the Centre’s conclusion that several contents broadcasted were seditious and even bordering on treason against the Nigerian state.
“This is akin to similar hate messages by a radio station during the Rwandan genocide against sections of the country and the government. Indeed, at an earlier media briefing in August, the Centre highlighted the menacing broadcast of the pirate Radio Biafra which no doubt could be described as being on a mission to orchestrate disunity in Nigeria.”
He then urged the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB and IPOB to seek legitimate avenues of channeling their grievances or injustices on any perceived socio-economic and political issues in their region within the current democratic space.
The Centre commended efforts of the governors of the South East and other leaders in the region to broker peace and observed that “true leaders in any society always quickly wade into a crisis before it get out of hand.”
CCC, however, asked the Federal government to engage the MASSOB, IPOB and indeed any group in a meaningful dialogue within the laws of Nigeria with a view to resolving current or emerging crisis.
“This is no time to stroke new crisis in the country, but rather a period to cement our unity as one, strong, indivisible and progressive nation,” it stated.

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