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‘Dapchi was an incident waiting to happen, just like Chibok’

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This screengrab taken on May 12, 2014, from a video of Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram obtained by AFP shows girls, wearing the full-length hijab and praying in an undisclosed rural location.<br />Nigeria’s government on MAy 17, 2017 said another Chibok girl was free, having escaped from Boko Haram Islamists more than three years after being kidnapped with more than 200 classmates. / AFP PHOTO / BOKO HARAM / HO

Captain Aliyu Umar Babangida (rtd) is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Goldwater and Riversand. He is a National Security Resource and Solutions Consultant. In this interview, he spoke on the abduction of Dapchi School girls, the challenges of the security personnel and other security issues.

Don’t you think the abduction of Dapchi schoolgirls has once again exposed the lapses, conspiracy and hypocrisy within the Nigerian security agencies?

There is no conspiracy or hypocrisy per-se. More like, there are obvious lapses, which are driven by a lethargic and non-innovation approach to issues. This cuts across the entire length and breath of our people, particularly governance and its public Institutions flag bearers.

Security wise, events as they occur tend to encapsulate glaring quality and content statements of governance in Nigeria on one hand and administration within the our public institutions on the other.

Put another way, a national security-incident occurrences grid, or chronology of security related incidents as reported from 2012 to date shows an average one week, one trouble, security-incident frequency, with most of the occurrences involving recurrent and festering issues, for which no new solutions are “actually” preferred.

Solutions in this sense refer to policies or measures, which rarely find physical expression beyond the ink in which they are written, or words in which they are pronounced.

The Dapchi incident, in retrospect, was waiting to happen, just as Chibok did. Dapchi particularly indicates there were no “lessons learnt” or “post incident process asset” gleaned off the Chibok tragedy, and applied to schools within the Northeast, that had similarities in deposition and girl child concentration, as was the case in Chibok.

So, it’s really not about hypocrisy and conspiracy here; its just plain lethargic approach to governance and its flag-bearers within the public domain and space.

Of what effect is the blame game going on between Army and Police over the abduction saga?

Blame games are rife with us and remain hallmarks of apprehension and low-grade mindedness. For a fact, it is the easiest thing to do, when things get out of hand…(blame someone). It also tells the world the parties to the blame game have not and are not working together.

Blame games as you call it also deteriorate inter-service relations, which sets both parties in this case further apart, to the detriment of their future operations liaison. The blames as traded also do not undo the damage incurred as it were. 

Conversely, if the energies invested in trading blames were innovatively deployed, the situation would have been different today. Why must our sister security agencies, and indeed our public devices and office holders, trade blames, only post-incident, when the blames are utterly useless.

Can we possibly begin to encourage them to trade blames and criticisms pre-incident by being a bit more open about misgivings and challenges? This way much can be done, “pre” and not “post” incidence.

What is your view on the initial report by the Yobe government that some of the abducted girls were rescued, only to recant later?

That, too, is rife with us. Public office holders have many a time given clear indicators that their communication management machinery is sub-optimal.

If a government releases a report and rescinds same shortly afterwards, subtle as this may seem, it rubbishes the majesty and reliability of the office involved. This should be avoided by all means possible.

Why is it that whenever the military tries to brag or show that they have weakened Boko Haram sect, the sect would strike?

The military will celebrate their successes regardless. This in itself is key to sustaining troops morale and public confidence. Conversely, the Boko Haram will also seek to reverse claims as made and celebrate their own success too. The claim that the sect has been downgraded militarily holds true. Beyond that, it is not true.

Tactically, they may not be able to engage the military in pitched battles as they did years back, but then they have reinvented the battle ground by shifting focus from attacking hard targets like military barracks, police stations and entire villages, to exploiting low hanging fruits and soft targets like schools and market places, particularly those that are remote and far flung.

You will agree with me that as you go farther into the rural areas in any state, the absence of government and its institutional offices is so glaring, it is virtually loud!

Those who wreck mayhem, from bandits we call herdsmen, to insurgents, terrorists and militants know this and exploit it.

The military can play its role by doing its bit; but not until a counter terror blueprint is evolved across board, for the Immigration, DSS, Civil Defence, up to traditional rulers and markets and worship places in these affected areas, there will ever remain gaping cracks in the security architecture that can be exploited at will.

Counter terrorism is not entirely military- every part of the community is involved. The counter terrorism Blueprint for this requires innovative-imagination, that can match that of the terror masterminds, not less so meta-cognition across all stakeholder institutions and security agencies, as mentioned earlier.

Do you think that the abduction of the Dapchi schoolgirls has shown that Boko Haram has not been weakened as claimed by the government and Army?

Understand this please. Weakness has nothing to do with this. Be they strong or weak, degraded or decimated, it is all about “opportunity”.  For a crime of any kind to occur, three concomitant variables must be in sync: a criminal, the target or victim, and the opportunity.

While Intelligence, Law Enforcement and military options have no absolute control over the first two variables, they retain the ability to deny the potential assailants, in our case the terrorists the “opportunity” to strike.

Put another way, we cannot stop the girls (targets) from schooling; we cannot stop persons (assailant/criminals) from joining sects or being lured or forced to join. What if we focus on the opportunity aspect of everything… as in schooling and recruitment into terrorist sect,
with a view to denying the adversary the third and crucial part of these three variables?

The terror mastermind will ever seek “opportunities”; we must borrow his eyes to see the same and make them unavailable.

Many are of the view that some elements in the security agencies are working with the sect to undermine the efforts of security agencies, how do you think this problem can be solved?

That is an excuse. It is not a problem. Even Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed, had elements within their inner circles who worked against them. The subject of counterintelligence effectively addresses that. 

To the layman, this may look like a problem; for any security chieftain it is an excuse.

With this, don’t you think that terrorism has come to stay in Nigeria?

Wherever terrorism is allowed to set foot at all becomes its home; it digs in swiftly. 

Let’s face it. Terrorism is a business. Its real goals and objectives are not religious if properly scrutinised. Terrorist activities are driven and sponsored by quests for political power, dominance, economic or socio-cultural gains.

That the threat almost-always wears a toga of religion or ideology is to put it bluntly because, after football, religion is the next most populated subscription known to man.

Religion and Football grant their users a followership like no other from the masses. Recall Karl Marx put it aptly when he said: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people”.

Terrorism in Nigeria was made in Nigeria by Nigerians. It is a business you know. Would you sell a product where there is no market?
We have carried on over the decades in ways that have made us an attractive haven for terror mongers.

While terrorism and other forms of violence can be exported, we imported ours by unwittingly spawning the required conditions for it to thrive.

Our national pastimes, namely, irresponsible social conduct and governance, ethnicity, tribalism, nepotism, religious ignorance and intolerance all helped make ours an attractive business clime and market for terrorism and its allied corollaries.

Unfortunately, despite our propensity for strife and irresponsible governance nay social conduct, we lack the appetite and capacity to contain the immediate, future and collateral dividends, of our collective shenanigans. Terrorism leaves Nigeria the day Nigerians, and that includes politicians begin to take Nigeria seriously.

Don’t you think the schoolgirls abduction has political undertone just like the Chibok girls saga?

It could, and particularly when political busy- bodies begin to find petty publicity to the effect of politicising a tragedy.

One was even reported to have reduced the situation to a tit for tat affair when he tweeted as was reported, as follows: “If you Chibok me, I will Dapchi you”. Whatever that means. So much for the Nigerian Politicians!

Don’t you think the sect is being emboldened because of the money they made in the release of the Chibok girls and others?

There is no gainsaying that. Security threat types as many as we know them to exist, from cattle rustlers and bandits, to ethnic militias and local champions all have one thing in common. They get bolder by the day.

Not because they are any wiser or smarter (a field of our threat types based on modus operandi and equipment/weapons availability) revealed 89 per cent of the time, they resorted to crudities, in comparison with same threat types in other climes; the only exception being cybercrime and dark web proponents.

What this means is even with low-grade menial techniques, they still place our law enforcement and intelligence service providers on tip toes perpetually. Now that alone will call for confidence and boldness on the part of crime perpetrators and their potential future subscribers.

Add to that almost always nil return on swift and commensurate consequences for high profile crime and you begin to see why rif-raf-ism, brigandage, political violence, militancy, kidnappings and all sorts have become the  “new-normal” in Nigeria.

So it is not about the Boko Haram sect alone. Fact is, impunity and blatant defiance and disregard for our laws and constitutional statutes pervades the nation…our three arms of government leads this mêlée of obscenities. That essentially is what informs the confidence and boldness you see in criminals and security threats nationwide.


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