Former President Ibrahim Babangida on Wednesday advised the President Muhammadu Buhari and the military to change tactics in the fight against Boko Haram.
He said the new approach by President Buhari and the military against Boko Haram must be holistic in such a way that the military will pound the enclaves of the sect day and night.
He said strategic efforts and initiatives of the military at curtailing Boko Haram should “remain, most often, top secret”.
Babangida, who made his views known in a Sallah message, said it was time for Nigerians to be strong and unite against the insurgency.
He said: “At this stage of our national history, especially with the insecurity we presently experience, it is appropriate for us to devise new ways and means of confronting this hydra-headed insurgency, without making such initiatives public knowledge.
“Strategic efforts and initiatives of the military targeted at curtailing the spread of Boko Haram should remain most often top secret within military hierarchy and the presidency. Collaborative efforts should also follow similar pattern so that little or limited information is let loose for the consumption of members of the sect.
“Coordinated efforts by the security agencies should be strengthened and refocused to gain new dimensions towards combating the unwholesome activities of this sect, and when such dimensions are sought and cultivated, they should remain the exclusive preserve of top military brass.”
“The President, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), as a military officer, understands the importance of these altruistic suggestions and I trust that he will take steps to apply some of them that fit into the mainstream strategies already in place.
“The approach has to be a holistic one, well coordinated with full onslaught launched by the day and night to route these insurgents to surrender.”
The former Military President pleaded with the media to stop glorifying the horrendous activities of Boko Haram.
He said: “Media intelligence is required in helping to assemble information and distilling such information in a manner that would benefit the fight against terrorism.
“Going by the news and information we get everyday, I feel very strongly that the media has a greater role to play in the management of information.
“The types of headlines and lead stories that are promoted in favour of the insurgents could only help to motivate members of Boko Haram rather than demotivate them.
“ I expect, with a deep sense of patriotism, to see a greater deal of positive news promoted in support of military efforts at confronting this menace than a celebration of Boko Haram carnage, day in and day out.
“Information management is very key to confronting an unconventional warfare, such as the one under reference, which is further complicated by the unfashionable method of suicide bombings.
“It is a strange dimension to this whole exercise of insurgency and has further compounded our earlier strategies in helping to nip this monster in the bud. The media, it must be emphasized, has a greater role to play in this information management system where a well defined synergy is encouraged between members of the media and the military hierarchy.
“On a good day, as is often said, the idea of taking some Boko Haram suspects and prisoners to Anambra State should not be public knowledge, if we are truly serious about information management.
”Each time we celebrate the dastardly acts of Boko Haram on the front pages of our newspapers and electronic platforms, it is a score for Boko Haram. We must weigh such information against our collective national interest. Do we subscribe to Boko Haram or to the Nigerian nation?
“Since we are of good conscience and subscribe to the Nigerian nation, military efforts and achievements in the fight against insurgency should be given primacy than what a suicide bomber has just done.
“We must make it a duty to encourage and motivate our military personnel; those who have died in the course of this struggle and those who are still there on the battle field trying to make the Nigerian society safe for all of us.
“The families of those who have lost their gallant fighters and bread winners must be catered for beyond the present tokenism. This initiative will serve as incentive to others who are still in the trenches battling to keep us safe.”
Gen. Babangida said the recurring attacks and killings by Boko Haram had no doubt raised the adrenalin of Nigerians.
”Events in the last four weeks have continued to raise our adrenaline, in a season of apprehension and utter suspicion, about our security engagements and the sum total of our collective sufferance as a nation.
“The heightened tension is occasioned by renewed hostilities and mindless bombings predominantly by suicide bombers who have decidedly chosen the option of death to life.
“We have seen the worst of human follies in the conduct of these avoidable carnage and bloodletting by unscrupulous persons under the guise of religion, doing havoc to our sense of nationality.”
He asked God to touch the hearts of Boko Haram members whom he accused of portraying Islam in bad light.
He said: “For want of no discernible ideology, they have continued to portray Islam in very bad light, making members of other religions to perceive us with scorn. Islam, which I was born into, some 74 years ago, is a very peaceful religion that preaches brotherliness and togetherness.
“It is a religion that encourages love, affection and respect for our neighbours and mankind.
“It is one religion that has an abiding influence on its adherents to cooperate with one another and promote peace in their respective communities. May God touch the hearts of these insurgents so that the untoward act of bloodletting will permanently cease. Happy Eid-el-Fitri to all.”