Boko Haram as an industry
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan’s recent declaration that Boko Haram has stopped being a religious sect and has become a merchandised big industry is instructive and unfortunate. That declaration underscores why the conflict is unending as it seems to observers that some people, on both sides, are reaping fortunes out of the war that has lingered for over ten years.
Sabotage, betrayal, corruption and lack of trust are some of the factors prolonging the war. There seems to be no decisive step taken on the part of the federal government to prosecute the war and end it forthwith. No doubt, the people of the North East have become weary of the war. Their lives have been truncated in no small measure. They want the war to end so that life would return to normal.
Speaking after the presentation of a Motion on the resurgence of killings in Borno north by Boko Haram insurgents, the Chairman of the joint session of the National Assembly noted that the current insurgents consisted of people from different religions and from different countries. That is to say, there are different foreign players in the conflict both in physical combat and funding of the group.
The National Assembly leaders would like the nation to believe that Boko Haram has metamorphosed from a group of religious zealots into an industry. They pointed out that the insurgency has become an industry because what they do is no longer religious. They want us to believe that the insurgents have people from different faiths and countries who are part of Boko Haram. This is a strange twist to the narrative that began with Islamists at the epicenter since 2009.
The Senate President who recalled that the Upper House had passed so many resolutions including the reports of the various ad-hoc committees we set up regretted that despite other complementary efforts the insurgency in the North east has persisted. He didn’t add that the president and his men once declared and had reiterated that the Boko Haram insurgency had been technically defeated.
A revelation during the debate that the leadership of the federal legislature had to continue to meet with the president on the recurrent conflict is curious as previous meetings with the president had yielded nothing since 2015.
Lawan didn’t need to reiterate that our armed forces have had their challenges, which he said would continue to be addressed. The issue of lack of needed military equipment for the military should be addressed. But the commander-in-chief has to be worried about this unending war.
The debate on the Motion was really uninspiring. Instead of sending another strong reminder to the president that his failure to rejig his security chiefs’ ranks has been part of the challenges, they merely noted, that ‘there is no point keeping somebody who is not registering successes for such person to continue to be there, especially, when the necessary tools to fight have been provided. So, we should give them (supposedly the military and other security personnel) the necessary tools and then we hold them accountable’. This is a mere sound even without fury and so signifies nothing to the powers that be.
Insinuations that the Boko Haram war has been turned into a business have reverberated for quite some time. The huge expenditure on the war is a matter of serious concern, even as the expectations are not met.
Huge budgetary allocations have been made to prosecute the war all to no avail. Rather than seeing positive result, a number of the military top notchers prosecuting the war have been involved in alleged massive financial impropriety, thereby giving the impression that the resources meant for the war might have been looted.
The other day, Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, decried what he identified as the factors prolonging the war against Boko Haram insurgency in the North East.
The Borno State governor has consistently identified existing trust deficit between the civilian population and the military, inadequate military troops and fund as the impediments against the end of the counter-terrorism war in the area.
We cannot agree more with the Borno State chief executive that we would not be able to make progress without addressing the problem of endemic poverty. The existing trust deficit between civil populace and military must be closed. The people’s homes were burnt by the military. Citizens were forcefully relocated out of their homes and this has caused some trust issue.
The resurgence of attacks by Boko Haram that reportedly killed 17 people in Gajiagana, Megimeri local councils and another thirty-three persons in Nganzai fueled new concerns about the lingering war. The inability of the armed forces to completely cripple the insurgent activities was the trigger for the new concern.
Truth is that is it possible to end this conflict if government is so determined. Whatever needs to be done should be done forthwith. President Buhari should, as a matter of urgency, direct the armed forces and relevant security agencies to beef up personnel and equipment to critical areas of the conflict, especially around the Lake Chad shores to flush out the insurgents. It will be a tragedy if President Buhari and his military chiefs would continue to give us excuses about ending Boko Haram insurgency that has cost the nation so much.