Looking beyond kinetic approach in tackling insecurity

By Linus Aleke
For more than one decade, the Nigerian State has confronted insurgency, terrorism and other emerging security threats with just a dim end in sight. That is, however, not an indictment on the dexterity, gallantry and professionalism of the armed forces of Nigeria and other security agencies, as verifiable evidence exists of other nations that battled this unwanted cancer longer than necessary.

But what strategy did the Nigerian State adopt in tackling this cancerous monster? The state as usual embraced the traditional method of quenching fire with supervisor fire. Regrettably, this traditional method had not yielded the desired end, as the threats have continued to diminish and escalate at an interval within this one-decade period.

To this end, it is imperative to begin to reexamine the existing method to evolve the right mix that the contemporary security threats will submit to its superiority, ferocious and witting influence. This is so because it is only a fool, they said, that will do one thing over and over again and expect a different result.

It is, therefore, time to purge the landscape of a robust labour market for terrorism and other criminalities by fighting poverty, unemployment and the widening gap of inequality in society.

In a society where the majority are unemployed, hungry and poor, the insurgency is inevitable, as willing recruits are everywhere. This is so as restrictions of qualifications, height, medical fitness, geopolitical colouration, bribery and who the applicants know do not apply. It is express road to hell and destruction and the state is worse off for it.

It is a known secret that the federal government has prioritized kinetic operations over every other existing strategy in tackling insecurity in Nigeria, within this period under review, the reason why the defence sector has continued to enjoy jumbo allocation for more than ten years and still counting.

Interestingly, the new Minister of Defence, Alh. Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, and Mr Bello Muhammed Matawalle, on the assumption of office, announced a departure from the status quo, by emphasizing the prioritization of a non-kinetic approach, going forward.

This paradigm shift is no doubt in line with empirical evidence that prioritization of a non-kinetic approach houses the silver bullet that invalidates the ferocity and potency of terrorism and other forms of non-conventional warfare in modern times.

A torchbearer of of this strategy, and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar said: “I would like to mention this, as much as we are intensifying efforts through a kinetic approach against these security threats, empirically, it has been proven that kinetic action only resolves 20-30 per cent of our internal security issues”.

The Air Chief, who said, this while, playing host to the Governor of Niger State, Mr Mohammed Umar Bago, at NAF headquarters in Abuja, further explained that the remaining 70 to 75 per cent can only be resolved through a whole government approach.

Air Marshal Abubakar, posited: “So, while we’re intensifying our kinetic efforts, the government must embrace a whole-government approach so that at the end of the day, they are completely eradicated. Whole government approaches deal with good governance, providing quality education, health care, economic opportunities, jobs and the like. It is important that is also addressed in a very formidable manner in addition to the kinetic efforts at resolving the problems. I also want to solicit the support of all Nigerians, especially in the area of information sharing as we join hands to rid our nation of the threats imposed by these enemies of the people. Security remains the responsibility of all Nigerians and the earlier we realise that and jointly work against the scores of terrorists, the better for our nation”.

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The Minister of State for Defence, Mr.Bello Matawalle, while making a case for the prioritization of a non-kinetic approach said, “We recognize that Military Might alone cannot guarantee lasting security and stability. We must address the root causes of conflicts, promote social cohesion, and foster economic
development by investing in education, healthcare, job creation, and
infrastructure development. We can create an environment where extremism finds no fertile ground to thrive”.

To achieve this noble objective, the Minister noted, “We will collaborate with relevant ministries and agencies to implement programs that address the socio-economic disparities that often fuel conflicts. While the government takes the lead in addressing security challenges. We also recognize the importance of engaging with all stakeholders, including the private sector, civil society organizations,
and local communities. We must foster a culture of vigilance and collective responsibility, where every Nigerian plays an active role in ensuring the safety and security of our nation”.

Explaining why they have to adopt this approach, Mr. Matawalle, said, “Nigeria, as we all know, is a country blessed with abundant resources, diverse cultures, and a resilient population. However, it is also a nation that faces numerous challenges in maintaining peace and stability within its borders. Our geographical location, coupled with internal and external threats, demands a robust defence strategy that can effectively protect our sovereignty and preserve our national interests”.

Extolling the military efforts in the past decade, the Minister of State, averred, that Nigeria’s armed forces have always played a crucial role in maintaining law and order, defending our territorial integrity, and contributing to regional peacekeeping efforts.

The Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force, and other security agencies, he said, have demonstrated their commitment to duty and sacrifice time and again, stressing, their dedication to protecting our nation deserves our utmost respect and support.

He however added, “We must acknowledge that the security landscape is constantly evolving, new threats emerge while existing ones continue
to persist. Terrorism, banditry, insurgency, cyber warfare,
Transnational organized crime and communal conflicts pose significant challenges to our national security. I am fully aware that the task ahead is not an easy one. However, I am confident that with the support of my colleagues, the dedication of our armed forces, and the unwavering commitment of every Nigerian citizen, we will overcome any challenge that comes our

The former Governor of Zamfara State pledged that, “I and my brother, the Minister of Defence, Muhammad Badaru Abubakar have both resolved to adopt a
comprehensive and multi-faceted approach to effectively tackle the
prevailing security issues. Our armed forces must be modernized and
strengthened through investments in advanced weaponry, intelligence
gathering capabilities, surveillance systems, and cyber defence infrastructure. We will work closely with international partners to acquire cutting-edge technology and expertise that will enhance our defence capabilities”.

He further disclosed that the defence sector under their administrative leadership, will prioritize the welfare and training of security personnel,
ensuring they are equipped with the necessary tools and resources to
carry out their duties effectively.

He also posited that the ministry under their supervision will work towards enhancing coordination and synergy among the various security agencies, fostering a united front in efforts to combat insecurity.

“Furthermore, regional cooperation is essential in combating transnational threats. Nigeria will continue to strengthen its partnerships with neighbouring countries and regional organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU), by sharing intelligence, coordinating
operations, and conducting joint exercises. We can effectively counter
cross-border criminal activities and terrorist networks. In addition to external threats, we must also address internal challenges such as corruption within our defence establishment. Transparency, accountability, and good governance are fundamental principles that must be upheld at all levels. We will work tirelessly to eradicate corruption from our defence procurement processes and ensure that resources are allocated efficiently and effectively,” he said.

The Minister noted that defending the nation is not a task that falls solely on the shoulders of the defence forces or the government, adding, that it is a collective responsibility that requires the active participation of every citizen.

“I call upon all Nigerians to remain vigilant, report suspicious activities to the appropriate authorities, and support our armed forces in their mission to protect our beloved country. I want to assure you all that the Ministry of Defence, under our leadership, will spare no effort in ensuring the security and well-being of every Nigerian. We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to build a strong defence apparatus that can effectively counter emerging threats,” he assured.

The Minister of Defence and immediate past Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, agreed with his minister of state but added that the kinetic operations will also be strengthened with timelines set to achieve specific goals across all theatres of operations.

The former Governor who spoke on assumption of office in Abuja, said: “The president is a goal setter, an achiever, and a thinker. The president is a macro manager, and he would be on our necks to deliver on security, and I will do the same. As time goes on, I will engage you as individuals and groups. As we all know, without security, there would be no investment, and without investment, there would be no economic growth. Even though our food security is threatened, farmers can not farm in their farms because of insecurity in the land. The president is ready to give us all the support to do this. From now on, I will ask the service chiefs to give me a timeline and requirements on how we will begin to solve this problem of insecurity”.

These timelines and the targets, he said, will be passed to Mr President, adding, “he will be monitoring us, and he doesn’t have the patience to work with lazy people. So, all our jobs are at stake, we must therefore deliver for the country. ”

The Minister said: “We resolve and promise that within a year or so, we will have a remarkable change in the security sector.”

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Christopher Gwabin Musa expressed the willingness of armed forces to support the ministers to succeed in their tour of duties.

The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defence, Dr. Ibrahim Abubakar Kana said that the president carefully selected the ministers to address the security challenges confronting the country.

Meanwhile, the armed forces of Nigeria have an existing home-grown program, that gives prime place to nona -the kinetic approach, which it code-named, “Operation Safe Corridor”.

The program is aimed at providing Boko Haram terrorist fighters with a voluntary exit route.

Low-risk terrorists under the program, which was launched in 2016, were expected to be de-radicalized, rehabilitated and reintegrated into the society, across the northeast theatre of operations.

Meanwhile, what the new Ministers are advocating is a little different from this existing multi-faceted approach. The Ministers, want a situation where the government will tackle the immediate and remote triggers of insurgency, terrorism and emerging security threats in the country so that the top echelon of the men of the underworld would run out of their sources of recruitment supply.

A successful and busy mind, it is said, is not a candidate for recruitment into criminal empires no matter how mouth-watering the prospect may look.

To this end, it is imperative to conclude that poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, abscess of basic social amenities and social injustice must be tackled with vigour to clear the unemployment market for terrorism, kidnapping, banditry and cyber crimes.

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