By Bode Olushegun
Nigeria might need over 100,000 more soldiers to successfully win the war against Boko Haram terrorist group.
Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, stated this on Wednesday while hosting the House of Representatives’ Committee on Defence led by its chairman, Hon. Babajimi Benson.
He advised that at least 50,000 people from Borno should be engaged by the military with or without western education to prosecute the ongoing war on terror.
The governor said nobody could fight this war without manpower, technology and proper funding,
Zulum, said he would always admit the fact that the Buhari administration did so much to degrade Boko Haram when he came to power in 2015.
He said that the situation had already degenerated and the insurgency had continued to attack the state.
His words “I have always admitted that the federal government has done well under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari. At a time about 20 local government areas were displaced but after May 29, 2015 almost all the roads were opened and the local government retrieved.
“But notwithstanding the gains that we had, between March 2019 till date we have experience horrific and simultaneous attacks throughout the state. As I told the Theatre Commander we are experiencing the attacks in quick geometrical ratio
“I therefore plead with Mr. President and as well as the Nigerian military to revisit the strategy used during 2016/2017 that we were almost celebrating the demise of Boko Haram so that we can deal with the insurgents one and for all.
“One important thing that we have to do is to take the fight into their enclaves. The whereabouts of the Boko Haram is known to all of us. It is known to the people of Borno State, it is known to the military. It is known to all of us.
“Another important thing that I raised is the issue of commercial activities, there is nexus between peace, security and development, there is nexus between poverty, unemployment and insecurity and in order to address causes of insurgency we need to address our major challenges. And one thing I plead with the Nigerian military is to allow for free flow of commercial activities in Borno, this will reduce recruitment, fortunately enough the chief of army staff has lifted the ban on sales of fish and fish farming in Borno State, we have conveyed the message to the fish farmers.”
He added that “the coming down to the challenges of the Nigerian military, I think the theatre commander can inform you better, but to the best of my knowledge there is major deficiency is manpower, they lack manpower, Borno state has a large landmass and therefore they need manpower, they need technological warfare, they need logistics. You cannot fight this insurgency to an end without technology and without manpower and without funding, this is very germane.
“Take my words they don’t have manpower, they don’t have equipments, adding that military operation has to use stabilization mechanism, explaining that by stabilization mechanism the military should ensure that during military activities there should be stabilization effort on ground.”
He added that to ensure this, “you need manpower to hold a place, without manpower you cannot hold a place, without people going about their normal activities, going to their farms peace cannot reign.
“We have over 500,000 IDPs in Monguno, 120,000 IDPs in the Republic of Niger, we have 68,000 IDPs in the Republic of Cameroon that are eager to come back home and even in Dikwa how many IDPs do we have that have limited access to their farms. This issue will not stop until people have access to their farms.
“And honestly speaking we need to increase the firepower of the police to augment the military as well as the Civil Defence Corps because of their importance.”
He noted that the paramilitary, police and others have to be allowed to carry sophisticated arms,.
According to him, “I think there is the need to allow for certain guns to be used by the paramilitary for certain period of time. After the insurgency is over you can now go back to the old position.”
He told the lawmakers to “kindly advise the Speaker and the Senate President to tell Mr. President to approve the massive recruitment of soldiers. We need about 100,000 more to be recruited into the Nigerian Army. They should come and employ the locals whether they have the western education or not.
“What was done during the civil war, people were recruited massively and after the civil war they were demobilized. I think this is the only solution. We need to recruit nothing less than 50,000 men from Borno, we have able-bodied men that can join the Nigerian Armed Forces on an ad-hoc basis, they can be trained apart from this you can go back and look for retired military personnel and policemen and re-inject them into the system.
“We keep on having series of meetings, endless meetings without taking some decisive steps, I think this thing will consume all of us, even consume our nascent democracy.”
Chairman, House Committee on Defence, Hon. Benson had informed the governor that they are in Maiduguri to pay condolence on the Auno attack and see what could be done to assist in the ongoing war on insurgency.