24 Jul

The week ahead – The Niger Delta edges towards restiveness

President Buhari’s state visit to Washington was described by aides as a “resounding success”. The success of the visit will be put under more scrutiny in the coming weeks to ascertain whether there are positive outcomes especially on national security.

Meanwhile, Boko Haram welcomed the President back to Nigeria with twin bomb blasts in Dadin Kowa, Gombe. This underscores the ruthlessness of the terror group in recent times, and also the absolute failure of the security services, so far, to make the move to the urban warfare that the group has resorted to.

A return to land grabs?

Some of the intelligence available suggests that the Boko Haram group now controls five local government councils in Borno and Yobe States. If this is true, it is a very big setback to the gains of the past few months, and there seem to be no assurances from the government on the next strategy other than speeches.

Kaduna shows leadership in the North-Central

Insecurity continues in the North-Central with killings in Agatu, a village near Markudi, the capital of Benue State by alleged Fulani herdsmen. However, on a positive note, a counter drive from the Kaduna State government in partnership with federal forces to rid the Birnin Gwari forest of armed groups and cattle rustlers has started.

It’s not all North, kidnappers and militants are on the prowl

In the South-East, a kidnapping syndicate grabbed the headlines. Fortunately, the government of Anambra State has moved quickly to begin tracking the suspects, some of who have been taken into custody, while others remain at large. The state government, using one of the laws of the state, has started demolishing landed property belonging to kidnap suspects as a way of deterrence.

Further south and on Thursday, a local monarch was kidnapped in Bayelsa State, raising the stakes in that particular region of the country. There have been unreported cases of kidnapping in the past week in the South-West and South-East, with the victims’ families preferring to negotiate for ransom in order not to harm their loved ones.

There is also a report on resurgence of militant activities in the Niger Delta, with the blowing up Thursday, of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company’s pipelines over the termination of the surveillance contracts granted by NIMASA to some ex-militants. This incident coincided with a call for a meeting of ex-militants by Mr Government Ekpemupolo, better known as Tompolo, a Niger Delta warlord, for them to review the actions of President Buhari’s government thus far.

The Department of State is keeping a tab on these developments, knowing the history of that region, with information also suggesting Tompolo is not pleased with the change at NIMASA, and the termination of his lucrative contract.

APC crisis rolls on, affecting everything else

On the political front, the crisis rocking the APC remains far from resolution. The National Assembly crisis is yet to be resolved and the warring factions appear to be looking up to the courts to settle their dispute.

Again, this is an unnecessary distraction to the government and the Nigerian people are paying for the unstable political environment. The economy still looks depressing, with the CBN’s monetary policy committee set to meet Friday.

Recommendations

We call on the federal government to depart from speeches and revitalize the human intelligence component of the counter terrorism efforts towards stopping the urban suicide bombings as we foresee an increase in the bombing campaigns.

The military needs to embark on an offensive to recover the territories that are now in the hands of the terror group.

Positive mention must be made, again, of the successful raids on Birnin Gwari Forest in Kaduna State. The actions of a pro-active government to a local problem will once again open the debate on community policing, which we are on the side of.

The federal government though, must not allow the killings in other states in the North-Central region to go on unabated.

The Nigerian Police and DSS must develop a working security task force to deal with the kidnapping for ransom in the South.

We urge the Anambra state government to revisit the law on demolishing landed properties belonging to kidnap suspects. First, suspects must be pronounced guilty by the courts, and then the properties should be sold off rather than the wastage of demolition.

President Buhari needs to engage the Niger Delta and ensure we do not have another insurgency on our hands. Having to deal with two insurgencies at the same time will overstretch our already tasked armed forces.

Pressure must be brought to bear on the National Assembly by Nigerians for them to resolve their crises and move the nation forward.

The outcome of the MPC meeting is expected to chart a way forward as the economic doldrums fester.