With the federal government yet to react to the threat by the Boko Haram that it would run over President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in three months, a one-time emir of Gwandu in Kebbi State, Mustapha Haruna Jokolo, has advised the government not to embark on a propaganda war and limit what it says to the public about the sect.
This is even as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has said that the government should, in no way, treat the sect with kid gloves, or else it would consume many people.
But President Jonathan, at the second presidential national prayer held in Aso Rock Villa yesterday, assured that the country would overcome the security challenges.
He said: ``Daunting as these challenges may appear, I trust in the efficacy of the Bible truth that the prayers of the righteous avail much.
``I am confident that Nigeria will emerge from this trying time a stronger, more united, more stable and more prosperous nation.’’
Jonathan noted that championing narrow sectional agenda would not add values to national development, adding that his administration owed Nigerians the sacred duty of enhancing their welfare and well-being.
Alhaji Jokolo, an expert in counter-insurgency from his days as an officer in the Nigerian Army, and who studied at the Infantry School and Centre, Fort Benning, Georgia, and McLellan Military Police School, Amiston, Alabama, both in the United States of America, spoke to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY yesterday on the threat posed by Boko Haram.
He said it would be harsh to describe the Jonathan government as irresponsible for not declaring the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, wanted after the direct threat he made to the president.
Jokolo said: “I would suggest they talk less about Boko Haram because provocation does not help in this kind of situation.
Threats will not solve the problem because it is ideological. These people believe in what they are saying. Whether it is right or wrong is a different matter.
“It does not help to threaten people like that. They are not only ready to die but willing to die. Death means more to them than life. Look how long it took the British to resolve the problem with the IRA. Has the United States ended the war in Afghanistan?”
However, Kenny Ashaka, the special assistant on media to the president of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that government should take a decisive action against the sect. He said: “Right from the onset, we have been saying, please go after them. It is a very serious threat and government should not take it lightly.
“They should not pamper Boko Haram. All we can say is that the government should brace up. They should make hay while the sun shines, otherwise it will consume many people.”
Also, a former deputy governor of Ebonyi State, Prof. Chigozie Ogbu, has warned against the use of force to tackle the menace of Boko Haram, saying that it is very difficult to deal with any group of people who embark on guerrilla warfare.
Ogbu, who served the regimes of the immediate past governor of Ebonyi State, Dr. Sam Egwu, and the current governor of the state, Chief Martin Elechi, four years apiece, said that his position on the non-use of force was born out of the fact that Boko Haram is a faceless insurgency group.
He rather advised law enforcement agencies to strengthen their intelligence network to enable them infiltrate the group as well as forestall their criminal activities, instead of engaging them in a frontal battle.
Ogbu stated: “This issue of Boko Haram which is more like guerilla warfare is a very difficult one. Anybody blaming President Jonathan of not doing this or that is not patriotic and does not just understand the issues involved.
“The only way to tackle them is through intelligence, and that’s why our law enforcement agencies must strengthen their intelligence capacity to be able to pre-empt these people. But if you think of facing them conventionally, you don’t know whom you are facing because they are everywhere.”
Prof. Ogbu also advocated for the strict observance of the rule of law in the country, saying that the absence of the rule of law in any society heightens the incidence of crime “since anybody can do whatever he likes without fear of being punished by the state”.