It is a given that the role of the military is earnestly that of fighting against external aggression. On special occasions, the soldiers could be called upon to help maintain peace, but that is only when the Police Force has been overwhelmed. On such occasions, the soldiers are expected to meet their objectives as fast as possible and return to their barracks. It was expressly to minimize the calling out of the military for peace-keeping duties within Nigeria that the anti-riot arm of the Police Force, called the Mobile Police Unit was formed. They are specially trained in their Gwoza Hill Camp, in Bornu State, in how to quell riots and peace-threatening situations, such that when the Mobile Police Unit is overwhelmed, then a war-like situation has ensued. Thus it should be taken for granted that whenever the military is called out of the barracks to help restore peace, then there is a very ominous situation.
We recall that the military high command deployed soldiers in large scale to 32 states of the federation in 2017. What that means is that Nigeria could be said to be at a small-scale warfare because it is only in full-scale war situations that such a massive military deployment could be experienced. Yet, what situations in a peace time could demand such a large-scale deployment of soldiers? Yet the cascading insecurity in the country has failed to abate. In fact, the security agents appear to be totally overwhelmed. The truth is that the top-most challenge that has faced Nigeria and its military for years now is the Boko Haram Islamic fundamentalism. Even though the murderous sect has been degraded appreciably, some sections of the sect are, even in their death throes, spreading mayhem through their sporadic and uncoordinated attacks against civilian and military targets. So, it may be taken for granted that the military will be out there in Bornu, Yobe and Adamawa states for months, if not years, defending the populace until the evil that is Boko Haram is totally extirpated.
Yet, the mere presence of the Boko Haram insurgents in some three states in Nigeria could hardly have called for the deployment of soldiers in such a huge scale that it covers 32 of Nigeria’s 36 states. That shows that matters other than Boko Haram insurgency are to be blamed for such massive deployment. It calls into question the level and kind of peace that holds sway in Nigeria at present. This level of military deployment screams for all to hear that the ties that bind Nigeria are seriously being untied. It shows that beneath the relative peace that appears to exist in Nigeria, real tension is smoldering. And that should be a cause of concern for all. Such paper-thin peace is too fragile to be relied upon to glue a country together for long because any real tension say, from an inconclusive election or census, could shatter it.
Just as the Nigerian politics could hardly sustain such a massive deployment of the military for long as the soldiers have been trained to kill and hardly for peaceful deployment, it is equally true that the economy, already weighed down by sundry causes into an official recession, would not be in a position to support such a massive military deployment – and in peacetime too.
What this time and situation calls for is a new way of doing things. It must no longer be business as usual. The Government of the day must return to the drawing board. It must identify constructive and remarkable new ways of doing things. The All Progressives Congress (APC) and the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari must appreciate the fact that though they won the 2015 election, they have not won the governance challenge that ensued. Just as they have been winning the Boko Haram war by the day, they must also be prepared to win the peace challenges that are already cropping up by the day. Since the administration incepted, the economy has been speeding towards the gutters. Ordinarily, the Nigerian economy, in the best of times, would hardly support the massive deployment of soldiers to 32 states; that is why war is costly. It is worse now that the economy is in dire straits.
A most peaceful way must be sought for and found to deal with the security problems facing Nigeria, including the vexed issues of Boko Haram insurgency, the Biafran Republic demand championed by IPOB, the militarized Cattle-Fulani herdsmen who spread mayhem as they sweep across the land, the inter-ethnic frictions that explode now and then and the Niger Delta militancy and the military effort to suppress it plus the ever-growing Christianity-Islam mutual suspicion and the rising incidence of kidnapping. The Federal Government must sue for dialogue, for it is better to jaw-jaw than to war.