WITHIN a week of his appointment as the new National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki has displayed a greater appreciation of a more nuanced approach to the raging insurgency in the country. He has visited Yobe and Borno states, the epicenter of the Boko Haram problem; he held discussions with the Borno Elders’ Forum and the governors of the two states.
This was far more than was done by his predecessor, Andrew Owoye Azazi. Azazi got things wrong from the beginning, largely because of his mindset. He saw the insurgency as a political weapon in the hands of Northerners with grievances against President Goodluck Jonathan. He then tried to link the fight against Boko Haram to the broad international narrative of ‘war on terror’, hoping to enlist the United States in his fight.
The huge sums appropriated for security, like bee to nectar, was attracting dubious security contractors to partake in the feasting on contracts. Security then took a life of its own, and there was no longer an incentive to end the crisis.
Azazi, who had been retired from the army for controversies, was too much sucked into a wrong-headed analysis of the insurgency and therefore proved more of a liability in the struggle to overcome the Boko Haram insurgency.
Sambo Dasuki seems to appreciate the fact that there can be no shooting through the insurgency and has stated that the best way out was to engage in dialogue. If that reflects the desire of President Jonathan, I do hope all those concerned will assist to get the process of dialogue going.
I have taken my cue about dialogue from the Borno Elders as well as governor Kashim Shettima; they have consistently argued that social and economic life has become paralysed in the state; that much I verified, having spent a week in Borno, recently. And by extension, we are facing the same paralysis in several parts of Northern Nigeria.
I hope that Sambo Dasuki nurses no delusions that his will be an easy task; he has his work cut out! But I do wish him success, because we cannot sustain life in the North the way things are at the moment, and by extension, Nigeria will not know meaningful peace and development, if we do not bring closure to the Boko Haram insurgency.