Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday, Industrial Organisational Psychologist, (Rtd) Colonel Wilson Ijide, said that Nigeria still needs to better understand the true nature of the Boko Haram insurgency.
“When it started, it was like child’s play; people thought it was something that could wash away; either by abuses, sentiments and other kinds of emotions.
“When you look at it from that perspective, I will tell you that it’s an ideology; insurgency is based on ideology; there is a motive.
“Until you tackle and remove the motive, it is likely to resurface; no matter how you attack them, new ones could also come up.
“So, we must have a broad and holistic picture of the kind of challenge this country is facing so that we can deal with it more decisively and comprehensively,” he said.
Mr Ijide spoke extensively on the issue of insurgency from the psychological point of view.
He said, “Research has been done in the past in the area of media operations, especially in psychological warfare, you research into the nature of these people which enables you come up with a programme on how to re-educate and re-orientate the people.
“Boko Haram started with Muhammed Yusuf, who preached an ideology, saying Nigerian states are corrupt that we needed an Islamic State which means his ideology has become an engine which has been able to galvanise a lot of people to accept it.
“Looking at it from the religious angle, they turned the doctrine of martyrdom around, which states that people will give their lives for what they believe in, but Boko Haram insurgency deals with the suicide bomber killing himself and other people.
“There are two broad strategies in dealing with insurgency; de-escalation and containment institute.
“The containment institute is the military strategy and the strategies of other contingencies put in place; road block, check points and getting information on where they hide their arms.
“While the de-escalation strategy has to do with other broad strategies; a commission of strategies like diplomatic, economic and informational;which I call psychological operations.
“With the economic strategy, you identify the financial base of insurgency. I wonder why we have not hit the financial base of insurgency in the past six years.
“As long as the government continue to fund the insurgents, they will have the power to strike and choose the time they want to strike as well as the location.”
Mr Ijide is, however, optimistic that if the government puts more efforts in finding a lasting solution to the problem of insurgency, it could be solved.
“We, the military were trained in that extent, but in this kind of war, you need more than the military knowledge of identification, the population itself should have that ability.
“I think by now, we should have fliers that come from security forces that will educate civilians on terrorism,” he said, adding that the recent attack of the terrorists is like “a statement that we are still here, not only that, but we can also envelope you. They struck at Nyanya and Kuje, which is like striking in the north and south to inform Nigerians that they are still around and that they have the capability to do that.
“They will always do that, but we must not be scared.”.
Teenage Suicide Bombers
Mr Ijide also shared his views on the terrorists’ act of making use of children.
He noted, “Children are very vulnerable and easy to turn around. There are different ways insurgents make use of vulnerable groups; they may either tell you that is the way to ply to make your life better or they (the children) may not know what they are carrying.”
The Psychologist however, said that “to identify vulnerable groups you need data; you get data from the incidents taking place”.
In his recommendations, the Psychologist said that Nigeria needs strong and determined citizens who are dedicated and committed and would say, “we will never succumb”.
“I get frustrated when the government keeps telling Nigerians that they will name the sponsors of Boko Haram terrorists.
“We want to hear you name them, what are the legal bottlenecks that prevent government from naming people who are suspects”, he questioned.
On the possibility of ending insurgency soon, Mr Ijide warned that it could be wrong for Nigerians to think that they “could end insurgency in a day or two”.
He suggested that the Federal Government should convene a committee of experts to properly come out with details of what should be the specific response of every stakeholder including the citizenry to the menace.
“The National Security Architecture is supposed to be very effective. The architecture is based on security committees, starting with the Local Government, State Government and Federal Government.
He advised Local Government Chairmen to call security meetings on a monthly basis and at other occasions when members suggest there is something to be discussed urgently.
Mr Ijide also sent condolence messages to the families of the Nyanya bomb blast victims.
“Let me express my deep condolence and sincere sympathy to all victims of various suicide attacks and most especially, the one that happened in Nyanya and Kuje.
” I know the families are going through difficult times”, he said.