THE CYCLE OF INCESSANT BANDIT ATTACKS IN THE NORTH: CAUSES & SOLUTIONS
Bandit attacks in Northern Nigeria is not a completely new phenomenon but the regularity or incessant nature of its occurrence in the last few years gives course for concern.
It occurs with the characteristic hallmark of kidnappings, killings, burnings, cattle rustling etc. with the consequences of reprisal attacks, restlessness and the state of insecurity it presents.
The inability of the Security agencies to decisively deal with the problem further aggravates the situation leaving behind a sense of hopelessness
The causes for repeated banditry attacks could be quickly ascribed to the southward movement by herdsmen in search of grazing ground; the deliberate act of cattle rustling and looting as seen in the activities of suspected foreign herdsmen and finally the tendency for criminality.
The serial display of lack of capacity by Security agencies in arresting the proliferation of this criminal activity is better appreciated in their trademark late arrivals at scenes of occurrence when the perpetrators would have relocated to yet another community.
The Security agencies in Nigeria be they military or paramilitary suffer from five fundamental needs deficits refer to as the Big Five. They are:
c. Logistics & Equipment.
The inability of the Nigerian State to address these needs to an appreciable level will continually result in high-cost consequences for our people.
In the war against banditry, the lack of manpower has prevented the adequate deployment of men in strength to vulnerable communities in the north as witnessed in the recent killings in Sokoto, Katsina and Southern Kaduna.
Every attempt at solutions must be holistic - capturing the Big Five deficits of funding, manpower, logistics & equipment, training and welfare. However, for the purpose of this conversation, we shall be scratching the surface only for lack of space.
The following lines of action would be required:
a. The deployment of adequate strength to hold the ground in vulnerable communities.
b. Availability of adequate multi-modal mobility assets for quick response action.
c. Good communication network links between operating units.
d. Adequate logistics/equipment requirements.
e. Engagement of the large army of retirees scattered in rural communities as informants.
Military strategy alone cannot solve all Security problems. In our fixation at the use of military force or Kinetic approach, we often lose out on the humanitarian approach of "winning the hearts and minds of the people."
It is clear to all that the continuous rise in violent crime and extremism witnessed in our society today, is partly induced by the declining economic revenue profile of the nation and ever dwindling purchasing power of the citizen. Government should therefore take steps to address this critical issue related to the economic wellbeing of citizens.
To achieve this;
• Employment opportunities should be generated for the large army of unemployed.
• Vocational training for skills acquisition should be put in place.
• We must begin to exploit the inherent potentials of our economic fundamentals in such sectors as Agriculture, Mining, Entertainment, Sports etc.