Nigeria

The idea of mercenaries suggests the military needs new ideas on war against insurgency

Even though insurgency has almost become synonymous with Borno State, the recent tragedy which struck renewed calls and clamours for significant action against a terror sect which had been “technically defeated” a number of times but still manages to ravage North-Eastern states. 

At least 43 farmers were gruesomely executed on their rice plantation and it became apparent that the military was getting increasingly ineffective in a prolonged conflict which has lasted for more than a decade. 

Borno governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, realised this and suggested to the federal government delegation which visited his state – comprising Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari; the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno and some ministers – that the services of mercenaries be engaged to clear the entire Sambisa forest, among other recommendations. 

For a nation with the abundance of military resources across the Navy, Army and Airforce, it certainly looks demeaning to suggest that they were incapable and needed help. However, the reality is what it is and after suffering multiple attacks too, Governor Zulum is under no illusion about what is at stake.

The implication of this is that for one, calls for the heads of the Service Chiefs seem more justified with each catastrophic occurrence. But more than just replacing the military lords, the military needs fresh approach(es) on battling insurgency. 

If they have been going at it the same way under several operation tags and by now even political leaders with armed escorts are not safer than an ordinary citizen, then something needs to change.

One possible solution is having a national guard. The opinion of political commentator, Dr. Ugoji Egbujo, then appears apt. He said:

“We should have a National Guard. I have said it before.

110,000 Strong. 3000 per state. 2000 for Abuja. The northern states can then contribute guards to occupy liberated areas.

The National Guard will be less mobile than the military but more resilient than the police. The national guard will relieve the army of the burden of checking banditry. 

We can train the guards in one year. We can suspend the  NYSC and use the orientation camps. We can absorb medically and physically fit nysc youths straight into the guards that could  be trained  by ex-service men,” Egbujo further stated.

Apart from reinforcement, there is the need for infrastructural development. An instance is the delay in the delivery of the fighter jets the country ordered for because of substandard runways. Governor Zulum himself lamented the poor state of the roads in his state, saying the federal government-controlled Ministry of Works had not constructed or rehabilitated roads in the last 25 years.

While there is definitely more than meets the eye concerning the war against insurgency and the foregoing is far from exhaustive, it is certain that the military needs fresh injection of ideas.

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