Nigeria + 3 more

Too many hands

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Borno state Nigeria is arguably the worst hit of the more than a decade long conflict in Nigeria. Thousands of people have been either killed, maimed, or forced out of their communities with their sources of livelihood destroyed. The Nigerian state has struggled to combat the menacing insurgents over the years. Sadly, the insurgency has found its way to neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Niger and Chad; leading to massive resources been channelled towards combative and non-combative measures to secure lives and properties in the affected region.

Nigeria’s military response may have been insufficient given the reality of the war. For instance, the insurgents’ deployment of guerrilla warfare tactics of a hit-and-run has made their ultimate defeat more elusive for the Nigerian troops. Expert views are that some inherent realities in the region continue to exacerbate the conflict and provide a rich pool of potential recruits for the violent jihadists. Being at odds with these scenarios, the Nigerian state appears to be ineffectual in combating the terrorists.

Clearly, as a result of the lacuna in engaging the jihadists, many non-state armed groups have come up to complement the state response to terrorism. For example, the Civilian-Joint Task Force has fought alongside the Nigerian troops, providing local intelligence that aids their missions. The hunters’ associations as part of the CJTF, have been gainful to the war against terror. The takeaway from these developments suggests that there is a problem of sufficient security in the region if the establishment of multiple non-state armed groups is becoming a norm. Recently, the Borno State government inaugurated a Community Policing Advisory Committee to improve harmony and collaboration between the police and communities. Also, the Borno state Police Command has set up a Rapid Response Squad (RRS) to protect farmers from terrorist attacks. Ideally, the numerous formal and informal policing efforts in the region have all been targeted at ensuring maximum security, but too many hands may spoil the broth if there is no adequate control and organisation. When there are multiple groups independently pursuing a common goal, there are chances of collusion. Also, it possible for the activities of one group to obstruct the efforts of the others.

Security efforts in the region should be synergised for a common purpose. Every group, particularly the non-state, should know its objectives and areas of responsibility. Having multiple groups and committees in the region may be at variance towards a solidified front against the jihadists. The government should seek a centralised control for all the combative and non-combative agencies that are being established in response to the jihadist violence.