Former Chief of Army Staff, Abdulrahman Dambazau, says the country has started witnessing a new war of “ethnic extremism” emanating from Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Odua People’s Congress (OPC).
According to him, the two groups had been making efforts to ignite nationwide inter-ethnic conflict through their violent attacks on northerners’ residents or transacting businesses in the south as a quick way to realise their dream for a divided Nigeria.
While saying there was parallel between Boko Haram, a religious extremist group and the IPOB and OPC, both ethnic extremist groups, Dambazau said all the three groups operate on the platform of extremism.
“They are all non-state actors; they all have separatist agenda to carve out states out of Nigeria’s territory; they all do not believe in the Nigerian project, its unity and peaceful co-existence just like BH.
“They are also beginning their projects by attacking security forces and those they consider their enemies,” he said.
Dambazau stated this in a lecture titled, “Strategic Military Leadership and the Emerging Threats to National Security: My Perspective” during the inauguration of Army War College Nigeria Course 5/2021, on Friday in Abuja.
He advised the military leadership to develop a new strategy in the counter-insurgency operations in the North-East.
He said that the Forward Operations Base (FOB) and Super Camp strategies so far adopted by the military in the Northeast had not been most efficient in tackling insurgents.
Dambazau, who is the immediate past minister of interior, said that while the super camp strategy had not in itself most efficient in force protection, it exposed the vulnerable communities to terrorists’ attacks.
He said that the whole idea was to create a balance between force protection and civilian protection, adding that there was a need for the military authority to seek the best way to achieve that.
“I cannot stand here to tell you that this is what they should do but I believe it is something that can be done because it is very important to protect the force and equipment and also protect the civilian communities.
“Like suggested too this cannot be left to the military alone as the military has their role very clearly and therefore, the civil defence and the police should be used to ensure the protection of our civilian communities.
“Because the insurgents have realised the fact that civilian communities are soft targets,” he said.
The former army chief also called for effective coordination of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to ensure more commitment by member countries to be able to defeat the terrorists.
He also advocated a holistic and all stakeholders approach in tackling the security challenges as well as enhanced intelligence, adequate equipment, manpower and personnel welfare.
According to him, intelligence is a critical area in tackling the current and emerging security threats.
Dambazau also suggested that more needed to be done to address the current ethnic agitation in different parts of the country, adding that those non-state actors were also citizens of Nigeria.
According to him, Boko haram started as a Taliban of young men hiding in Yobe but today we have insurgents and ten years on we are still fighting.
“I believe that the multifaceted approach can be adopted and the problem is that we think that every security issue is the military show but we have the administration of justice approach.
“It is the primary responsibility of the police to maintain law and order and so we need to also strengthen the police to be able to do that aspect,” he said.
According to him, there are four aspects that need to be addressed; one category has to do with a threat to our sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“Other categories have to do with the issue of law and order, the wellbeing of citizens and the corporate existence of the country.
“There are also issues that have to do with governance like the issue of education, poverty, health and more,” he said.