“How Israeli Soldiers Traveled 4,000km to Rescue Kidnapped Israeli Citizens (Lessons for Nigeria on Chibok Kinappings)” By Fabiyi Rotimi
FULL TEXT OF THE SPEECH TITLED DELIVERED BY ENGR. ROTIMI FABIYI (MNIM, MNSCHE, MNSE, COREN REG) AT A SYMPOSIUM ON CHIBOK KIDNAPPINGS ORGANIZED BY COMMITTEE OF PROGRESSIVES AND REALISTS (CPR) IN IKORODU, LAGOS STATE, NIGERIA ON 27TH JUNE, 2014
Good afternoon to everyone present with me in this lovely auditorium today and good afternoon to everyone that in one way or the other contributed to the success of this occasion. My name is Rotimi Fabiyi and I am standing in front of you to speak with you on the topic “How Israeli Soldiers Traveled 4,000 Kilometers To Rescue Kidnapped Israeli Citizens (Lessons For Nigeria On Chibok Kidnappings)”.
I am exceptionally glad to speak on this 17-word topic because at no point in the history of this country named Nigeria that such a topic is more necessary and important. The pertinence of this topic will even become trebled when one recollects that it is nearly 3months now that more than 200 secondary school girls were kidnapped as an act of terrorism by members of Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lida’awati Wal-Jihad terrorists (widely called Boko Haram) wearing bogus Nigerian Army uniforms in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria. Since 14th April,2014 that the incident occurred, the Nigerian government has not really taken any concrete and effective physical action to get the girls back which is the real reason why this symposium is holding today and the real reason why this speech is being delivered today.
Before proceeding beyond this juncture, it is of utmost pertinence to note that I am not here to try to suggest to you that terrorism is a problem peculiar to only Nigeria because the fact remains that many other countries of the world have had to battle and are still battling with terrorism within their territories. From 1919 to 1920, the U.S-based Galleanist terrorists killed dozens of Americans through indiscriminate (and targeted) bombings; the Social Revolutionaries successfully terrorized czarist Russia (by assassinating many governors and ministers) starting from the 1890s; the Mau-mau terrorists caused a lot of trouble for British colonialists in Kenya in the 1960s, the same way the shortlived Nigerian terrorist group Zikist Vanguard (which had nothing to do with the whiskey-gulping Dr. Azikiwe who once attempted suicide) tried but largely failed in its attempt at consecutive assassinations of pre-Nigerian independence British colonialists; the terrorist group Weather Underground (whose pardoned top member Bill Ayers is one of U.S President Obama’s best friends) bombed a lot of government buildings in USA from 1969 to 1977; the Baader-Meinhoff terrorists (officially called Red Army Faction) gave West Germany sleepless nights in the 1970s by its effective campaigns of kidnappings and assassinations, the same way its twin terrorist group Revolutionary Cells did in the selfsame West Germany till the German Reunification in the 1990s; the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine gave Israel a lot of headaches in the 1970s, and further acts of terrorism were later perpetrated by Palestinian Liberation Organisation and Hamas on the same country. Other examples of terrorism in recent world history include the murderous decades-long rampages of the Irish Republican Army in United Kingdom, the assassinations and multiple bombings by Mandela’s African National Congress in South Africa, the killing and kidnapping spree of the Red Brigades in Italy (including the murder of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro 54 days after he was kidnapped) and also the international massacres perpetrated by the terrorist groups Japanese Revolutionary Army and the jihadist Al Qaeda.
In the countries of the world just mentioned, terrorism came with its inevitable and uninvited arrival but its coming, as collective occurrences, was not what matters in the context of the topic of this speech but rather the way it (the terrorism question) was solved. In other words, I am categorically stating that having a problem does not in itself make an entity (e.g a country) a failure; it is how the entity solves the said problem that makes it be seen in posterity as either a failure or a success. In discussing the kidnappings of almost 300 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria in April 2014, we can take a short look at a similar (but far worse) occurrence that once happened to the Middle East country named Israel and see how that small country (in comparison with Nigeria) promptly solved the problem in an unprecedentedly fast and shockingly effective manner to become an exemplar of counter-terrorism in the world
Exactly 38 years ago, specifically on 27th June, 1976, specially-trained and well-rehearsed terrorists hijacked a French-owned passenger plane heading to France from Israel and filled with Israeli citizens, Jews of other nationalities, and other non-Jews. The plane was first forced to fly to Benghazi, Libya to refuel and 7 hours later took off and arrived at Entebbe Airport in Uganda in the afternoon of the following day 28th June, 1976. The buffoonish Ugandan unelected “president” Idi Amin personally welcomed the terrorist and assured them of the support of both the Ugandan Army and the Ugandan Air Force (Uganda had no navy because of being completely landlocked) because the clownish (but unscrupulous) mass-murderer Idi Amin was at the time (and till his death) a subscriber to fierce anti-Semitism. With this assurance, the terrorists quickly commenced their plan, separating non-Jewish passengers from the Israelis and non-Israeli Jewish passengers. The non-Jews were then freed but the Israeli citizens were withheld and the world was told that if some specific terrorists (53 in number) imprisoned in Israel, Kenya, France, Switzerland and West Germany were not released, the abducted Israeli citizens would be murdered within 3 days. As a country that learns from experience, Israel knew that the terrorists would do what they (the terrorists) promised if their demands were not met so the Israeli Armed Forces secretly started planning how to counter-attack the terrorists to free their citizens to avoid a repetition of the May 1970 Avivim School Bus Massacre (in which terrorists attacked a school bus filled with primary school children and killed everyone in it in the town of Avivim, Israel) or the May 1972 Lod Airport Massacre ( in which terrorists killed dozens of people and injured scores more at Lod Airport, Tel Aviv, Israel before the terrorists were captured or killed).
So it came to pass that on the night of 4th July, 1976, Israel launched Operation Entebbe when 100 Israeli commandos ( under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Yonatan Netenyahu, the brother of the present Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu) flew 4,000 kilometers from Israel to Entebbe, Uganda, murdered all the terrorists keeping their citizens hostage (including dozens of Ugandan soldiers supporting the terrorists), blew up dozens of Ugandan military planes in the immediate vicinity, loaded all their rescued citizens in Israeli planes and flew back to Israel, the whole rescue operation lasting just 90 minutes.
Israel is a small country with a land area (half of which is the Negev Desert) less than Nigeria’s Jigawa State and a population that is even till today half of Nigeria’s Lagos State yet this country that thrives on agricultural economy (because it has no crude oil like Nigeria) was able to get the adequate weapons for itself, get the adequate training for its military personnels and get the adequate willpower to travel 4,000 kilometers (about 122 times the distance from England to France) outside its own national boundary to rescue its kidnapped citizens from the clutches of terrorists but Nigeria that is 42 times bigger than Israel, 21 times more populous than Israel, and make more money than Israel (due to the multi-billion dollar value of Nigeria’s crude oil deposits) simply could not rescue few hundreds of its kidnapped citizens from the unusually sharp claws of Boko Haram terrorists right under its nose inside its own national boundary.
The Nigerian government and people have a lot to learn from the Israelis in terms of counter-terrorism and the earlier we start learning, the better. The first important lesson to learn from the aforementioned Israeli’s Operation Entebbe is that the government of a country must always remove ethnicity (called “tribalism” in the Nigerian society) as a factor in its national decisions. When Israeli citizens were kidnapped (as stated earlier), the government immediately started planning how to rescue them without creating time to consider the ethnic group of the hostages (be they Jews, Israeli Arabs, Druse, Maronites or any of the many other ethnic groups that make up Israel). Since Boko Haram started its indiscriminate killings in Nigeria, many Nigerians not directly affected (especially those that are not indigenes of, or based in, the northern parts of Nigeria where the terrorists are most active) covertly or overtly see the Boko Haram issue as a northern Nigeria’s problem, not the problem of the whole Nigeria. In other words, while the Israeli government saw and still see the problem of an Israeli as the problem of the whole Israel, most Nigerians and especially the Nigerian government (as evidenced by statements of many top government officials) see the Boko Haram insurgency a Hausa-Fulani-Kanuri ethnic groups’ problem, not the problem of the whole Nigeria and therefore react ridiculously, ineffectively and inefficaciously slowly when there is a perpetration of atrocity by the insurgents.The second lesson to be learnt from the Israelis is that the religion factor should be avoided when dealing with issues of national importance. Israel launched Operation Entebbe because the hostages were Israeli citizens, not because of any of the hostages’ individual religious view (be it Judaism, Islam, Christianity or any of the other recognised religion in Israel or even atheism, agnosticism, apostasy, etc). What this means is that important national issues in Nigeria are too promptly religionised even when there is plenty evidence on the contrary. Boko Haram insurgents kill Nigerians without first checking if they are Muslims or Christians yet some religion-biased persons and organisations always try to imply that the victims of the insurgents have always been Christians even though several thousands of Muslims have also been murdered by the insurgents.
When terrorists kidnapped more than 100 Israeli citizens in 1976, the political party governing Israel at the time (Israeli Labour Party, with the fiery warrior Yitzhak Rabin as the Prime Minister) did not see the incident as a contrived plan of opposition parties to bring down its government. This is the third lesson that needs to be learnt in Nigerian society in that the Nigerian government of the day seems to see every action of criticism of its slowness or inaction (especially apropos Boko Haram insurgents) as planned attempts by the main opposition parties to bring down the government. So sensitive is the government to criticisms that it has descended into the mire of puerile paranoia that makes it despicably and laughably libelously accuse the main opposition parties in Nigeria as being the actual Boko Haram insurgents. The fourth lesson to be learnt from the Israelis is that important things should be kept important when it comes to issues of national pertinence. Israel has been known as a country that participates in many international sport tournaments (e.g Olympic Games) but gives little attention to winning. The well-led country rather focuses all its attention on winning the numerous security challenges it usually faces which makes the country seems to be always well-prepared in terms of terrorist attacks or even full scale wars (e.g the 1967 Six Day War in which 100,000 Israeli armed forces personnel surprised the whole world by completely defeating a combined force of 547,000 armed forces personnel from Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq in just 6 days). The Nigerian government of the day, on observation, seems to be more prepared for World Cup soccer tournaments and numerous political rallies than it is for battling the Boko Haram insurgents. The government found it so easy to deploy more than 100 sniffer dogs and thousands of heavily armed soldiers to “monitor” the gubernatorial election in a state (Ekiti State) in Nigeria but has rejected all suggestions to send even a fraction of the sniffer dogs to Sambisa Forest, Borno State, Nigeria (which is believed to be a stronghold of the Boko Haram insurgents) despite the fact that USA used just only one sniffer dog to locate the mass-murderer Osama Bin Laden in Abottabad, Pakistan before U.S soldiers snuffed the life out of him.
And this brings us to the fifth lesson to be learnt from the Israelis in terms of counter-terrorism in that compulsory military training for all able-bodied adult males and females (as practiced in Israel) is an advantage to a country, not a disadvantage. Chief Obafemi Awolowo (who was officially declared as the best politician ever produced by Africa) was the first Nigerian to formally suggest this on pages 75 and 76 of his 1970 book titled The Strategy And Tactics Of The People’s Republic Of Nigeria by stating many cogent reasons why compulsory military training is necessary in Nigeria. If every able-bodied adult male and female in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria were fully trained in physical and weapon combat through compulsory military training, it would have been far more difficult for Boko Haram insurgents to kidnap almost 300 school girls with such impunity; and if every able-bodied adult in Nigeria is fully trained in physical combat and weapon combat, insurgents will find it difficult to operate in a country like Nigeria with almost 100 million adults out of 170 million population figure. Had this Awolowo’s far-sighted advise been acceded to since 1970 that he suggested it, Nigeria by now would have been a disciplined and viceless country in which armed robberies, kidnappings and other vices will be at the nadir because all the potential victims would be capable of defending themselves against any aggressor or aggression without waiting for any or many law enforcement officers.
The five aforestated lessons are few (in fact, a tiny few) of what need to be learnt by the Nigerian government and people in battling insurgencies in whatever form and in wherever place, so that Nigeria can be peaceful again, so that Nigeria can be great again. Thanks for listening and thanks for joining us in making this symposium a success Engr. Rotimi Fabiyi (MNIM,MNSChE, MNSE, COREN Reg)
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