All of the immediate former service chiefs who appeared on Thursday as non-career candidates for ambassador were united in their lamentations about the lack of security in the country, which worsened under their watch from November 2015 to January 2021.
This is even as the former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt – General Yusuf Tukur Buratai (rtd), declared that it may take Nigeria 20 years for total elimination of Boko Haram insurgency.
They were all screened by the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs.
First to lament the worsening security situation in the country was the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin (rtd), who attributed the problem to the over 1,000 forest reserves in the country not well managed and secured by respective state governments.
He added that the problem at hand requires a well galvanized national approach for it to be surmounted since it is more of an asymmetric cum hybrid warfare as against the conventional ones that can easily be confronted and defeated.
He said: “I want to say that the solution to insecurity is multi-pronged. We talk about conventional warfare and asymmetric warfare. We are talking about hybrid warfare where everyone is involved.
“It is not about kinetics. Kinetics gives only 35 per cent success rate in any war we are fighting. It is a national approach that must be properly galvanized for us to actually surmount the insecurity.
I will say three years ago, I conducted a research on the forests in the country. I realized we have over 1,000 forest reserves. I sent the team to Kenya. They went to Kenya and brought out a paper and I said then, three years ago that our next crisis will be in the forest.
“Some governors were invited and we told them because most of the forests are the prerogative of states. The states took over all the forest reserves. I told them that we have to protect the forests. We have to send troops to protect the forests.
We did the research in 2018 for six months. I said that the next problem we are going to have is in the forests. But again, it is with us right now. It requires a multifaceted approach.
“Everyone has to come on board for us to be able to address the insecurity situation. You can never have enough weapons, personnel and so on but there are issues we must address and then it has to be all about the nation”.
Also giving reasons for the unabated problem of insecurity in the country, particularly, the Boko Haram Insurgency in the North East, Buratai while facing the committee reiterated that it may take the country 20 years to eliminate Boko Haram Insurgency.
He disclosed that through indoctrination, the Boko Haram insurgents are winning more and more communities to their side, aside the problem of ungovernable spaces in the area and in fact, across the country.
He said: “My state (Borno), is an epicentre, where this indoctrination has penetrated so deep. They (insurgents) have won the communities to their side. That is why they (communities) keep Boko Haram. So it is complex, it requires a whole of government approach to solve this, military action or activity is just one aspect.
“One mistake that we have been making is that only the military can solve this. It is not. There are political, social, economic aspects that need to be addressed.
Development should be progressive, there should be roads everywhere, there should be employment, schools and hospitals all over.
“Yesterday, I counted five local government areas in Borno State that do not have good access roads.
“In northwest, north central, there are so many ungovernable spaces, which the insurgents are penetrating. The places don’t have schools, hospitals and so on and education is very fundamental.
“Unless these things are done, this insecurity will continue because the truth must be told. It may take another 20 years for the country to surmount the problem of Insurgency and that is the truth.”
The story was not different when the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Abubakar Sadique, former Chief of Naval Staff , Vice Admiral Ibok – Ete Ibas and former Chief of Defence Intelligence , Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Sani Usman , appeared before the Committee.
Specifically, the former Intelligence Chief lamented over lack of synergy among the various security agencies, as one of the reasons for the lingering security challenges the country is facing.
However, after the separate screening carried out on the five nominees, the chairman of the Committee , Senator Adamu Muhammad Bulkachuwa (APC Bauchi North), said the committee will submit on the exercise to the Senate next week.