Nigeria’s information minister, Labaran Maku has declared the war against Boko Haram in particular and terrorists in general as a Nigerian war.
He said that it is the cooperation of all Nigerians that will defeat it, adding: “it is our understanding that will isolate the evil. It is the unity of purpose in the country that will lead to victory over terrorism.”
Maku, who spoke to newsmen shortly after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa today said: “We need greater unity to be able to break into what is going on and defeat it, and that is why the grandstanding and politicking that is associated with the fight against terror is increasing the tempo of the activities of terrorists.
“The variety of opinion amongst the political class feeds into the confidence of terror groups because their objective is to divide public opinion and continuously penetrate the Nigerian society and destroy it. ‘And so, we continue to plead that all of us in the politics of this country need to think again to understand that the challenge we face is not to the advantage of anybody. We need to understand that politics aside, we need to save our country first.”
The minister stressed that all Nigerians need today, the kind of work that will enable every religious preacher and every religious leader to speak to their followers to be able to sensitize people to give support to what is going on.
“Every state in the North needs to go back to the basis. Which means that today, to deal with terror, every of the 19 Northern states must reorganize their people from the smallest unit of the smallest village to hamlet, to wards, to towns, to districts; there must be a proper organization of communities for proper information about movement of people and activities that could lead to destruction of lives and property.”
Maku said that federal government “is a fire fighter” and that it does not own any constituency in the 19 Northern states.
“The federal government only sends soldiers and policemen when there is fire on the roof to put out that fire. But the real ground where terrorist is operating is at the local level, at the unit level, at the state level, and until we have every state government determined, not rhetorically but practically, to sit back and organize their people and to take proactive measures in terms of information gathering, in terms of preparing people to be able to report to confront to be able to report, to confront, to organize themselves, we will not be able to defeat terror.
“So, to defeat terror means that every community in Northern Nigeria today must be prepared by the state government to attune their minds with their neighbours, with their communities, in their schools, in their town unions, in their tribal unions, in their religious organizations. We need to be able to reorganize ourselves to prepare for the new challenges we face.”
The information minister regretted that federal government has not seen this preparation going on which is why he said, it has become so sad that in spite of terror operating for this period of time, there are still lapses as witnessed in Chibok, Borno state.
He said that at the moment, the greatest challenge Nigeria is facing is for every state governor to go and focus on the reorganization, adding that that was why when the President declared state of emergency; he did not remove the governors.
He said that the President decided that we needed the machinery of the state government to be able to organize the people and work in synch with the federal government “and I think that is the real work that has to be done now.
“Instead of all the grandstanding, media bliss and altercations, it is expected that every state must know that the war of terror in his own territory is a war not only for the soldiers and policemen that are sent there, but it is even more so a real political war of community organization, of community cooperation, of sensitization, of getting the communities to link up to be able to link terror.
“If this happens, I can tell you that even for terrorists to keep girls for two weeks it will not take place, because they will be travelling across villages and communities and places. If we are really doing the work we need to do at the state and local level, and organizing our people and making them sensitive to what is going on, I believe the job will be easier for the security forces.”