Former Commander of the 31 Airborne Brigade of the Paratrooper Brigade in Makurdi and First and Fourth Guard Battalions Commander in Lagos, General Yakubu Rimdan (rtd), told ISA ABDULSALAMI AHOVI the priorities Buhari should set in the second term.
What issues would you want President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle more in his second tenure?
It is unfortunate that some secret operators are causing more problems and promoting Boko Haram’s activities in the country. It is painful that Nigerians, who crave peace and stability, so that development can thrive in our country, are being hindered. These operators are like clogs in the wheels of progress and have stopped development in the country.
Some of them have been identified, but I think the will power to bring these people to book, so they can face trial has been one of Mr. President’s major problems. People have been insinuating and making allegations suggesting that Mr. President is interested in the continuation of terrorist activities that are linked to Boko Haram. It is really unfortunate because Mr. President cannot be interested in Boko Haram’s existence and at the same time be putting all his efforts to stop it.
I want to say those people who are peddling the insinuations should be
brought to justice, once they are identified because they are the ones
creating more problems for this country.
So, I think the President should be more pragmatic and decisive so that the issue of Boko Haram is completely eliminated before the end of his second tenure. If he does not do that, then there will be more problems. People have been alluding that there are foreign countries like France that have been supporting Boko Haram’s activities through Niger Republic and Chad.
In the foreign media, people are saying the issue of Boko Haram cannot be stopped because France and other nations are involved. These people are also claiming that the closure of our borders, which to some extent assisted in increasing and helping the economy of this country, was a bad idea. But at the end of the day, they discovered it was not a bad idea. People are also claiming that Buhari is promoting the activities of Islamic Affairs in the West African sub-region.
I don’t believe this is true. But if it is true, it is very unfortunate because President Buhari himself declared that Nigeria is the only country we have. There is no other country we can run to when things go bad. So, if he allows terrorism and Boko Haram activities to continue, then there will be no peace and stability in the country, and Nigeria will be the worse for it.
If Nigerian armed forces, particularly the Nigerian Army, go to other countries to quell problems, there is no reason we should not get rid of Boko Haram in our country. It is just a matter of putting in place a better strategy and better approach to tackle the problem of Boko Haram before the end of his second tenure.
Don’t you think that the planned withdrawal of troops from the Northeast will further strengthen the insurgents?
I read it in the social media that there are plans to withdraw troops from certain quarters in the Northeast. But this is not coming from a very sound military source. I don’t believe that troops can easily be removed from a military zone, from an operational zone without replacement.
The usual thing is when the military has cleared the enemies from a
certain area, then, police action is restored. This is because before
the military goes into operation, police action would have been reduced
to the barest minimum.
However, when normalcy and peace have been restored, then you get police men and women to go and do their job. The Army only comes in when things are tough. So, where there is some sort of peace in the concerned area, the police should go there and start teaming up with the civilian populace— the traditional rulers, the vigilante or civil defence and other para-military outfits— to carry out operations.
The military has to return, regroup, retrain and prepare for other operations. You cannot keep them in a place indefinitely, and that is exactly what is happening. But some people misconstrue the issue of military withdrawal and replacing them with the police. This should be made clear, and I think there is a need for the military to explain this to people, even if it means involving the media, so that people are not misguided.
There are quite a number of local government areas within the Northeast that have been cleared of insurgents. So, the police should resume work there. We have well trained mobile police who can effectively do even what some of the military men are doing.
There are reports that insurgents mingle freely with
residents. Don’t you think they will regroup and return after the
soldiers are gone?
Terrorists are within and in every part of the country. Even some of our relations are terrorists. So, everybody should be security conscious. Security is everybody’s business and not just the military. And this is why we are saying whenever citizens suspect any foul movement, they should report it immediately so that such can be nipped in the bud. The State Secrete Service (SSS) should put in more effort. The borders are closed not because we are afraid of terrorism. Americans have been living with terrorists for how long? Since the 9/11incident, Americans did not go to sleep.
If only our people can carry out their duties seriously, the Boko Haram issue will not take place. But again, some Nigerians are terrible. They want to make money by all means, which is why they pay money to enable them to carry out certain activities like kidnapping, which is all over the place. Some people organise for their relations to be kidnapped, to make money.
Personally, I consider such to be terrorism, which should never be condoned. People are saying captured Boko Haram insurgents should be reintegrated, so they can live with people. If they have been identified as Nigerians; why not? But their movements should be closely monitored. It is not easy for them to regroup. If they are regrouping and we know, we should report it. They are human beings like us. So, why not integrate, train and make them feel that they belong? They belong to the system, and they are no fools. They want to live like normal human beings. If we don’t do it, then there will be problems.
But this is not to say they should just be brought in like that. There should be people watching them. What is the job of CID? What is the work of SSS? These special informants should do their job, and that is how we can properly overhaul the security system in the country.
What are your views regarding the Southwest security outfit, Amotekun?
The President has the right to immediately constitute a body that will look into the issue and decide on what should happen. Recall what happened that led to the Biafra War. It was because some groups of people wanted to constitute themselves into a kind of authority, a body against the government.
The way it is, what if the North and other parts also go-ahead to organise their own security outfits, what will become of the country? Chaos, destruction and death everywhere will be the result.
So, are we going to declare a state of emergency in the country? If they want a state of emergency to be declared in the country, of course, Mr. President can do that. He will just say, okay, if that is what you people want, I will call in the military boys to come out in totality and handle and deal with everybody. That is the time Nigerians will start crying. They are trying to start trouble they cannot handle.
In this second term, President Buhari should be very careful about his advisers. His agenda is very clear about what he wants to achieve during this last tenure. He should not tarry but go-ahead to complete some of the projects he has on his agenda so that he will leave good landmarks by the time he steps down as President.
Nigerians are not very good at continuing with the activities of previous administrations. I am happy he stood his ground that Magu, the acting chairman of EFCC, is not moved. All the people that are in EFCC’s black book should be tried before the end of his tenure. SOURCES THE guardian newspapers