By Adamu Bello Mai-Bodi
The success stories emanating from the Boko Haram epicentre in Nigeria’s north-eastern states, particularly Borno and Yobe, must not be separated from the combination of unwavering military operations and the assistance given by the tactically planned Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF). CJTF is a local group founded in 2013 to support the Nigerian military’s operations against extremists and defend local populations from attacks like the ones currently taking place in Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina.
Recent events in Nigeria reveal that the region’s indigenes primarily carry out terror activities. The Northwest is no exception. To put an end to this brutality, the authorities in the Northwest should take a page out of Borno State’s book and organize a local militia to work alongside the military. Locals know their communities’ lows and highs, nooks and crannies way better than military personnel. Therefore, involving them would boost the chances of conquering non-state actors and their partners in crime.
The people of Hausa land have a history of bravery and, if given a chance, many will volunteer to work in the task force to bring respite to and rid their community of murderous bandits. On this note, Nigerian authorities should give Northwest people a chance to work with the military and salvage the region. In addition, the loose group should possess basic weapons and must have female members to help with handling women and children. When this is done, I’m optimistic about having Borno-esque results.
The going is now rough in the Northwest, and the people are willing to fight back, but the constituted authorities don’t allow that. This region is densely populated. Every state can recruit at least thirty thousand vigilantes and pay each member a twenty-thousand naira incentive per month. Notwithstanding, authorities should be very observant during the recruitment of this recommended vigilante group to avoid engaging the bandits’ Trojan horses.
Gathering intelligence would be easier with the CJTF in place. The locals hired would quickly identify criminals and their enclaves, resulting in more successful security operations. Apart from increasing security, another positive aspect of the CJTF concept is that it provides people with temporary jobs to keep them occupied and provide food for their families. Instead of governments and individuals paying large sums of money as ransom to bandits, the money could be utilized to pay vigilantes a monthly stipend.
Adamu Bello Mai-Bodi writes from Azare, Bauchi State. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.