Hunters against insurgency
WHEN battle-ready local hunters in Madagali Local Government Council in Adamawa State volunteered to go to battle against Boko Haram insurgents the other day, they demonstrated a burning spirit of patriotism which all Nigerians must commend and imbibe.
Ordinary Nigerians have borne much the brunt of the Boko Haram insurgency with the loss of their loved ones, homes, belongings and means of livelihood. It is not surprising, therefore, that the indigenes are fed up with the violent violation of their lives, and would like to see an end to the war no matter what it takes, including laying down their lives. This pain as well as the desperation it has compelled should tug at the hearts of Nigeria’s leaders and nudge them to intensify efforts at ending the insurgency.
The local hunters, with their Dane guns, swords and seemingly crude tools of war, would seem a laughable lot unaware of the sophistication of the Boko Haram fighters. But they have demonstrated an unusual sense of nationalism, a desire to defend the country which every citizen must nurture and which the Nigerian authorities should, therefore, not fail to acknowledge. Their offer to fight should be examined, their capabilities weighed and, however symbolically, harnessed to complement the efforts of the military.
Certainly, the reports which said that in a renewed bid to wipe out the Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeast region, some 4,500 hunters, which is about 10 battalions, volunteered to join forces with the military to rout the Islamists by the December deadline given by President Muhammadu Buhari, should elicit consternation, that should be followed by appreciation given the carnage Boko Haram is unleashing on Nigeria. In a clear show of their determination, 500 other hunters have been recruited from the neighbouring states to boost the numerical strength of the Madagali group.
According to the Adamawa State House of Assembly member representing Madagali Constituency, Emmanuel Tsamdu, the hunters are already advancing towards the Sambisa forest, the epicentre of the battle. Madagali had been a major battlefield, where the insurgents have wreaked havoc, abducting, raping and destroying property. A desire to end the agony of the people in the community, therefore, fired the hunters to come together for battle.
Indeed, before their public show the other day, the local hunters had already repeatedly engaged the insurgents, though in largely uncoordinated manner, and based on the successes recorded within a particular five days, it was certain that given the necessary logistical support, they could help in liberating their abducted brethren, secure their locality and repel further attacks by Boko Haram. The fact that the hunters, being indigenes, are much more conversant with the terrain than the military personnel, should be an advantage the military can tap into.
There is no doubt that the desire of Nigerians is that the war against the insurgents in the North-East should end sooner than later in order for people to return to their normal life and no effort must be spared to achieve this.
What is on display in Madagali is a certain wave of Nigerianness which should be shared all over the country, that is, enough anger at the assault on Nigeria and a readiness to fight to defend the country’s integrity. It is a show of patriotism, nationalism and unity of purpose. By their action, the hunters have sent a message to their compatriots to stake their lives in defence against any threat to the existence of Nigeria.
This should serve as an encouragement to the government in the war, an unmistakable sign that the people are behind it. It is also a call for all hands to be on deck to defeat a common enemy. If local hunters could muster courage to join the fight, it is a challenge to the government to intensify its efforts and give no more excuses. The central command in the war against Boko Haram should coordinate all operations, including accommodating and re-training these volunteers and take full responsibility for their welfare.
The logistics, especially of incorporating those volunteers, is something that a central command should indeed take seriously. The Boko Haram insurgency has lingered for too long because appropriate steps were not taken from the outset. Now that a greater urgency has been brought to the fight with a more focused commander-in-chief, it should be acknowledged that government alone cannot and should not be left to fight alone. Whatever needs to be done should be done by all Nigerians, including volunteering to fight and supporting all volunteers to play their part.