WILLIAMS: Visit To G7 Shows We Are Not Serious About Diagnosing And Curing Our Problems


Ishola Williams

On the President Buhari’s attending the G7 summit with a ‘wish list’, how successful could this be in the fight against Boko Haram?
ASKING a leader of a country to come with a “wish list” is demeaning and paternalistic. It is in real terms saying come with an empty begging bowl, when you come we may be able to put something separately and not collectively in your bowl.

This might have come as result of his brief visit to the Downing Street residence of the British Prime Minister David Cameron, which to me, was not of any use except for the invitation that the British Foreign Minister announced at the inauguration. Nigeria after 50 years ought to have gone beyond that stage.

I feel bad that he went because what it shows that after over 50 years of so-called independence, we do not yet have leaders who understand the art of statecraft, which is having concrete and realistic understanding and utilisation of our current and potential capabilities and capacities in dealing, with a sense of pride and self-reliance, our domestic political, social, economic, cultural and security problems. This sense enables the President and his team to able to understand the gaps that need to be filled by outsiders with opportunities to learn and not ask for the same gap to be filled again.

All our Presidents have always begged the G7 to deal with our integrity, development and security challenges. I have not heard any one of them seeking assistance in setting a foundation for science and technology. We always appear helpless and hopeless like people who cannot find answers to self induced and self-inflicted problems. We appear not to or deliberately refused make effort. 

The President’s trip has opened these fault-lines in our corrupt and unserious efforts to development. It has shown that we are not serious about diagnosing and finding the cure the three types of AIDS afflicting us as a people.
What do you mean by three types of AIDS?
Well, I am referring on the one hand to our Acute Integrity Deficiency Syndrome, the second is our Acute Intellectual Dependency Syndrome, and the third is our Acute International Donors Dependency Syndrome.

Don’t you see any gain in the President’s attempt at rallying global support?
Frankly, I did not expect the President to come back with anything in his bowl, because each of G7, except Germany, has its own domestic political and economic problems. For example, President Barak Obama’s United States is sensibly leading from Behind, with his hands full as the reluctant policeman of the world and with no lasting political and military answers. Therefore, they cannot do more than sending us, the usual military advisers and trainers and perhaps, dash us some obsolete material. We, in turn, will buy material from them to cover the costs of whatever assistance we get them from them. Other trade and economic gains are obvious through their multinational companies, which are really national. In short, the G7 are not a group of good Samaritans. They know that, but we pretend that they are good Samaritans. This provides them an opportunity to interfere in our domestic life, and more so, covertly control our behaviours in the global arena.

But they will not interfere if we demonstrate that our acts are always together and coherent in terms of our domestic and foreign security policies. In fact, Boko Haram terrorism and insurgency have shown us the need for a foreign and security policy for to guide the desired relationship between the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As far as I can see, the President has met the so-called global leaders to greet and talk for 15 minutes and he will meet them again for longer periods in their countries over the next four years of his tenure. Outside that, I doubt if they can send us troops to fight like the South African mercenaries and, in any case, this will add more to our national shame.

Indeed, if the think-tanks, like the Training Command and Doctrine, are not fulfilling its mandate because the Army is not seeking innovative ways to fight the insurgents, then no matter the materiel we have and the training done the Boko Haram will be with us for a long time. We need a Security Structure that thinks, enforces humanely and fights to win. The Asians have done it and we can do same.

Before attending the G7 summit, the President visited Niger and Chad. What do you make of this attempt to priorities the fight?
The inaugural speech of the President only demonstrated the intention of the new administration to defeat Boko Haram. The President started with a military statement with respect to the command control of the Counter-Insurgency and while no mention of the communications and intelligence part of the new approach to defeating the insurgency. Even though, the Command, Control, Communication and Intelligence (C3 I) location is important, it depends on the holistic operational structure put in place in addition to other factors to be considered before making such pronouncements. We are being told that there is now Military Command and Control Headquarters in Maiduguri. The question we need to ask is: What about the JTF and the 7 division Headquarters? How do they fit into the Multinational Force? Looks like we have to wait for more details.

Even as the president spoke and embarked on the multilateral diplomacy, the insurgents appeared to be intensifying their activities. From your expert point of view, what should be done?
The key factor is that every insurgency has a centre of gravity, which can be political ideology or religious ideology or both. In this case, the centre of gravity of Boko Haram is extreme violent jihadist faith-based governance and system (ISIS in Iraq and Syria as a model) in line with Boko Haram’s interpretation of The Holy Qur’an. It is, therefore, to be expected that upsetting the political Islamic ideology of Boko Haram is the beginning of all wisdom.

Of course, this can only be done if the leadership elements of Boko Haram are identified, traced and captured; if possible not eliminated. In carrying out this act, capture is better than elimination. The difference and the advantages are clear.

It is also important to keep track of the decentralised command and elements of Boko Haram within and across the borders. We are, therefore, not only obliged, but repeatedly obliged, to be a part of a multinational force and its C3 I Headquarters located in Chad, but also to split and channel the decentralised leadership and their fighting groups to locations of our own choice within our own territory with the support of our neighbours.

The next step is to create an escape route for those who are tired of fighting without fear of being killed or tortured. The same goes for those who are captured. All of them must go through a process that will make it clear to them that political Islam in its extremism is unachievable within the multi-ethnic and multi-religious and secular world of today and in the future. In short, change their psyche.

Don’t also forget that they have demonstrated the ability to gather financial resources, obtain military material, and recruit fighters with persuasion, monetary incentives or by force. In addition, they have adapted the everlasting guerrilla strategy of a secured and consolidated base in Sambisa forest under the faulty intelligent eyes and the tactics of alternating between actual combat engagement with our forces, and using the hit and run tactics, while making full use of terrorist acts with suicide bombings.

The group has been cruel and inhumane in their treatment of combatants and non-combatants alike. Their leaders if captured must face a Special Tribunal.

These socio-political and security challenge ask for new thinking and new ideas. Therefore, I was expecting to hear from the President that he has instructed the security agencies, especially the intelligence, the military, the border agencies (Customs and Immigration) and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) to give him new thinking and ideas through the National Security Adviser (NSA) within the next two weeks with the main objective of eliminating the weaknesses and faults of the past operations and above all, developing a holistic strategic doctrine. This will enable him to issue clear strategic directives from the present security cum defence policy. The Military cannot defeat Boko Haram alone.

What exactly do you mean by strategic doctrine?
It links theory, history, practice, as well as, experimentation, simulations and war to provide authoritative statements on how the all the security agencies conduct their collective, but combined operations, as well as, separate activities and providing a common lexicon for all of them. They must remember all the time that they are guided by international instruments of war and that they are being monitored.

We now have a situation in which the leadership of the military has to be investigated for the act of their subordinates in the Northeast. The President has rightly ordered that we conduct our own investigation. He should hand over the file to the Legal Department of the DHQ (Defence Headquarters) and the Ministry of Justice to take necessary action in accordance with our laws.

It must be noted therefore, that the doctrine at this level, aims at a series of objectives to be achieved collectively and separately in defeating Boko Haram. Then, each of these agencies will assess these objectives in order to create its own doctrine and the pre-conditions for achieving the objectives set out in the presidential directives. This includes the need to consider the available and potential resources.

But in view of what is presently obtainable, how soon do you thing the military can defeat the insurgency?
In the case of the military, I do not know how they are fighting Boko Haram, but there is no doubt that they cannot defeat the Boko Haram with the present conventional military organisations. I do not believe either that the military hierarchy does not know this. I have read that there are now Special Forces Units under –– the Joint Task Force (JTF) with support from the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in the Northeast. We need autonomous Special Forces Regiments under the JTF and not the Divisions and Brigades.

Therefore, I doubt whether the President wants to move the NSA and the Defence Headquarters to Maiduguri with himself leading from the front to fight insurgency. It may be a populist statement and let it remain so.

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  • Ige Sodiq Hameed

    Danjuma demanded that if the then President(Civilian) Jonathan led them then, they all would match to Sambisa. Now we have a former military war ‘hero’, so to say, can he please lead the likes of Danjuma, IBB, OBJ, Abdusalami etc to fight Boko Haram please.

  • javscong javscong

    Gen. Williams(Rtd.) is no doubt the best that the Army ever produced. TRADOC excelled during his time there and the only reason he is always side lined is his refusal to join the band wagon of corruption. Any body reading this brief interview will appreciate his very incisive knowledge of what the country needs to do. PMB please do not discountenance this worthy Nigerian’s views. To Gen, Williams I plead that if the President should ask you to come on board, do not say no. This country needs you now more than at any other time during your service years.

  • Sal Yarima

    Who really killed the Libyan leader? ICC is a fraud; what we need to do is create an African court and issue warrants to international criminals. Anytime they venture into Africa we arrest them. This reciprocal measure would guarantee the biased ICC act properly instead of only issuing arrest orders for Africans. The Western Intelligence agencies who killed the Libyan leader committed murder. They should be arrested and jailed better yet in Africa where the crime was committed.