When a fire incident occurs, the first thing that happens is that emergency services are called in. They arrive at the site as fast as possible, take a quick assessment of the situation, start putting out the fire depending on the “possible sources” based on feedback from witnesses, go in to rescue the inhabitants, create a “water wall” between adjourning houses to prevent escalation, etc. They ensure the fire is fully put out and everyone is out of harm’s way before leaving the site.

What they just did was to respond to consequence.

The next step is to call investigators in. Their brief is to identify root causes and recommend actions to prevent recurrence. Depending on the situation they may also arrive in tandem with the folks responding to the consequence. These guys use a combination of data gathering, sequence of events mapping, determining protective systems that worked, failed or were not present, etc. They arrive at immediate, intermediate and root causes and recommend corrective and preventative actions targeted at these. After this report is passed on to the relevant authorities, it is then implemented.

In the case of the fire above, investigators determine that the fire started from an overheated electrical wire supplying a 2 hp air conditioner. This is the immediate cause.

It was also observed that the home did not have early warning devices like smoke detectors and the overload prevention did not meet the spec required. The AC wall plug was also observed to have been near the curtain/blinds of that room. The home owner also kept their only fire extinguisher on a floor below the one where the fire started. Those were protective systems that did not work or were not available.

The investigators also found out that the cables used for the 2hp AC were not rated to carry the load and possible surge. This is an intermediate cause.

The home owner actually had a 1.5 hp installed initially and upgraded to a 2HP without changing the wiring or ensuring that it met spec. A visit to the municipal authorities also showed that the home in question had their building permit issued without specifying the different cable specifications for all the possible equipment that could have been installed based on electrical code specification. This is root cause.

Recommendations were made and implemented, at municipal level, that addressed electrical codes and ratings notification, inspections and enforcement/sanctions, awareness communication around the number of and location of extinguishers in the room per specific risk, keeping flammable materials away from likely electrical heat sources and reinforcement of the building permits process to address all these concerns.


Back to the matter

While I agree that the approach above is currently applied in general conflict resolution and civil strife in this country, I am not convinced that the same is done to tackle the specific issue of terrorism and insurgency in a “visible” manner.

Some quick (proactive and reactive) suggestions

  1. Ensure the rule of law. Do not create reasons (outside the law) for deification/martyrdom of individuals and ideas
  2. Regulate religious teachings to weed out extremism. This must be done by the state and supported by religious leaders. Punitive measures must be applied through targeted legislation.
  3. Respected local and religious leaders should focus on preaching the counter narrative. This has to be a deliberate and concerted campaign.
  4. Strictly enforce the UBE clause that mandates education for all up to JS3. This refers to the federal and not religious curricula. Take kids off the streets into class and then trade or any other gainful activity.
  5. Sponsors, at all levels, must be exposed and punished with their sources of income/influence cut off permanently

I am afraid if this is not a strong focus, we will continue to have this periodic cycles of insurgency/terrorism. It is a long road, but we must start today.