‘Tackling poverty, illiteracy is half way into solving insurgency’
A Senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Bayero University, Kano, Dr Sa’idu Ahmad Dukawa has reiterated the need for a serious intellectual engagement between Islamic scholars and repentant or captured Boko Haram members, to help reintegrate them into the society. This, he emphasised should form the next leg of the war against insurgents in the Northeast.
In an interview with The Guardian, Dukawa lauded the feat achieved by the military in the fight, but added that without educating them on the need to abandon the destructive vocation they have chosen for themselves, the fight against terrorism may not end.
He explained that the need for intellectual engagement stemmed from the fact that the insurgents believe they are doing the right thing by fighting their fellow citizens and “when you combine a belief with knowledge, then there is no power of gun, which can deter such an individual.”
He added, “You can only overpower such belief and knowledge with a superior knowledge, which will breed superior belief. This should be taken into consideration in the process of de-radicalisation.”
To finally achieve lasting solution to the insurgency, Dr Dukawa has proposed some measures, which he categorised as short, medium and long term plans. “In the short term, government needs not relent in its effort at tackling insurgency. Their remnants have to be mopped up. Other aspects of insecurity, such as cattle rustling, religious and ethnic conflict, Niger Delta militancy, kidnapping, and other related criminality, needed to be given as much attention and seriousness as Boko Haram insurgency was given,” Dukawa said.
In the medium term plan, he said there was the need for the Federal Government to look into the welfare of the Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDPs), saying, “unless they are given the necessary attention, care and re-orientation, they may cause another havoc in the near future.”
“And in the long run, the Federal Government must address situations that breed insecurity. Many people talk about the economic hardship. One cannot but agree that the economy has to be put in the right shape, such that the level of poverty that leaves people uneducated has to be tackled. So, education must be given necessary attention, “ Dukawa stressed.
He argued that if the government tackled poverty and illiteracy, it is “more than half way into solving insurgency or other kind of perennial conflict issues.”
Speaking on religion, he said: “Government needs to give religion a necessary attention it deserves. We cannot continue to pretend that religion is not important. Whereas, people keep on demonstrating that religion is important in their life.
“It is sad to note that, in the Presidency, there is no office that looks after religion. In the National Assembly there is no committee that looks after religion.”
Such office, he suggested should be monitoring religious activities and religious conflict tendencies, stressing that: “If they stop pretending that religion is not important, if they give it necessary attention, then it is our hope that the kind of thing that we saw in Boko Haram insurgency can easily be handled in good time.”
On the deplorable situation in the IDPs camps, Dukawa suggested that government needed relevant tools that include the right policies, right institutions and the right legal framework that would effectively address the IDPs.
“With that, the next important thing to have is a baseline survey regarding their real conditions. What do they need and what can be done to them. Definitely, elementary information confirms to you that they need food. First and foremost they need to survive. They need water, they need shelter, they need clothing and they need medication,” he stated.
He also spoke on the need for the government to monitor the nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) working in the IDPs, saying “there was the need for government to monitor them, to evaluate what they are doing and ensure that people are not just making money out of other people’s suffering. “
Dukawa believes that returning IDPs back to their communities is for now a delicate situation. According to him: “One, continuous retention of camps is not desirable. But rushing into taking people back to a place they ran away from also needs to be done with caution.
“You cannot rush into taking people to where they were threatened, their lives threatened to the extent that they abandoned everything that they had, and then you just take them there without any conviction that the threat is no longer there.”
He advised the government to ensure that hitherto ravaged communities are safe, all the dynamites planted by the insurgents removed and houses built before allowing the IDPS back to their domains.
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