Former military president, Gen Ibrahim Babangida (retd) declared yesterday that President Muhammadu Buhari had the capacity to crush and bury the Boko Haram sect.
He agreed with Buhari that the horrible activities of the sect in no way represented Islam, just as he observed that the insurgents lack any discernible ideology and “have continued to portray Islam in very bad light, making members of other religions to perceive us with scorn.”
In a special eid-el-fitri message to the nation, Babangida, who expressed what he described as “implicit confidence” in President Buhari, lamented that the recent activities of the terrorist group had continuously raised the adrenaline of Nigerians.
He said the heightened tension generated by the sect is often “occasioned by renewed hostilities and mindless bombings predominantly by suicide bombers who have decidedly chose the option of death to life.
“We have seen the worst of human follies in the conduct of these avoidable carnage and bloodletting by unscrupulous persons under the guise of religion, doing havoc to our sense of nationality.”
Expressing belief in Buhari’s capacity to crush the sect, he said: “I have implicit confidence in my mind that President Muhammadu Buhari will put the final nail on the coffin of Boko Haram so that Nigeria can truly assume her greatness in the comity of nations.
He lamented that the incessant killings and bloodlettings by members of the Boko Haram had left “ a sour taste in my mouth,” in the month of Ramadan.
Disassociating the group from Islam, the former Nigerian leader said that Islam, which he was born into 74 years ago, is a religion that preaches peace, brotherliness and togetherness.
He said, “It is a religion that encourages love, affection and respect for our neighbours and mankind. It is one religion that has an abiding influence on its adherents to cooperate with one another and promote peace in their respective communities.
“May God touch the hearts of these insurgents so that the untoward act of bloodletting will permanently cease.”
The former Nigerian leader, not only decried the reign of terror unleashed on the country, but proffered solutions on how to contain the insurgents.
He pointed out that at this time of Nigeria’s history when it a witnessing insecurity as never before, it was proper for the country to devise new ways and means of confronting what he described as “hydra-headed insurgency”, without making such plans public.
“Media intelligence is required in helping to assemble information and distilling such information in a manner that would benefit the fight against terrorism. Going by the news and information we get every day, I feel very strongly that the media has a greater role to play in the management of information.
“The type of headlines and lead stories that are promoted in favour of the insurgents could only help to motivate members of Boko Haram rather than demotivate them.
“I expect, with a deep sense of patriotism, to see a greater deal of positive news promoted in support of military efforts at confronting this menace than a celebration of Boko Haram carnage, day in and day out.
“Strategic efforts and initiatives of the military targeted at curtailing the spread of the Boko Haram should remain, most often, top secret within military hierarchy and the presidency.”
Still suggesting ways of getting rid of the deadly group, Babangida continued: “Collaborative efforts should also follow similar pattern so that little or limited information is let loose for the consumption of members of the sect.
“Coordinated efforts by the security agencies should be strengthened and refocused to gain new dimensions towards combating the unwholesome activities of this sect, and when such dimensions are sought and cultivated, they should remain the exclusive preserve of top military brass.
“Information management is very key in confronting an unconventional warfare such as the one under reference, which is further complicated by the unfashionable method of suicide bombings. It is a strange dimension to this whole exercise of insurgency and has further compounded our earlier strategies in helping to nip this monster in the bud”.
He insisted that a well-defined synergy should be encouraged between members of the media and the military hierarchy.
“On a good day, as is often said, the idea of taking some Boko Haram suspects and prisoners to Anambra State should not be public knowledge, if we are truly serious about information management.
“Each time we celebrate the dastardly acts of Boko Haram on the front pages of our newspapers and electronic platforms, it is a score for Boko Haram. We must weigh such information against our collective national interest. Do we subscribe to Boko Haram or to the Nigerian nation?
“Since we are of good consciences and subscribe to the Nigerian nation, military efforts and achievements in the fight against insurgency should be given primacy than what a suicide bomber has just done.
“We must make it a duty to encourage and motivate our military personnel – those who have died in the course of this struggle and those who are still there on the battle field trying to make the Nigerian society safe for all of us.”
The former military president further recommended that the families of the soldiers who died gallantly while fighting the terror group must, in the absence of their bread winners, be catered for beyond the token being given to them presently.
He said, “This initiative will serve as incentive to others who are still in the trenches battling to keep us safe. The President, General Muhammadu Buhari, as a military officer, understands the import of these altruistic suggestions and I trust that he will take steps to apply some of them that fit into the mainstream strategies already in place.
“The approach has to be a holistic one, well-coordinated with full onslaught launched by the day and night to rout these insurgents to surrender.”
Babangida commiserated with the families of those who have lost their beloved ones during the insurgency.
He further commended the efforts of the Buhari-led federal government in addressing the plights of the internally displaced persons across the country.
“The renewed interest of the international community in helping out with superior military hardware towards combating this menace is a welcome development,” he noted, even as he urged Islamic clerics to do more in their daily sermons to prevent new converts and recruits joining the sect.
Noting that both Muslim and Christian religions preach the virtues of good and pious life tempered with the fear of God or Allah, he urged clerics to “continuously preach sermons that deliver the right messages to our people without ambiguity.”