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Boko Haram’s new offensive

By Editorial Board
09 January 2019   |   4:28 am
Boko Haram, the violent group, which has made headlines with its savage tactics, is again on the offensive. News reports suggest that it has made inroads into hitherto safe territories.

Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State

Boko Haram, the violent group, which has made headlines with its savage tactics, is again on the offensive. News reports suggest that it has made inroads into hitherto safe territories. Governor Kashim Shettima, ostensibly the Chief Security Officer of Borno State, is reported to have broken down in tears over the onslaught. His Katsina counterpart, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, has also raised the alarm about the level of insecurity in the President’s home state. Specifically, Boko Haram has seized six towns in Borno State. It has also been reported that some naval jets are stranded in Baga and the Navy Commander has fled to Munguno in Borno State. A few weeks ago about 40 soldiers lost their lives to the insurgents in one fell swoop. This is frightening.

Furthermore, thousands are reported to have fled to Maiduguri to avoid the bloodhounds, once described as “one of the world’s deadliest terror groups.’ We are compelled to ask the Army High Command: what exactly is going on? What has the military done with the millions of naira allocated to prosecute the war? We are also compelled to ask: Mr. President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, does the nation not deserve a better deal than the current fiasco? Is this the group that President Muhammadu Buhari once declared had been technically defeated? If the situation is so dangerous, what is the business of the Army sending soldiers across Nigeria in preparation for the forthcoming elections? It is either that some officials have not got their priority right or mischief is afoot!

One of the election promises of candidate Muhammadu Buhari was that he would end the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast. The nation was elated when on December 24, 2015, the President declared that the Nigerian army had ‘technically won the war’ and that the group ‘could no longer mount conventional attacks against security forces or population centres.’ These words we are sure have haunted the incumbent government in the light of what has followed since 2017. Boko Haram seems to have grown in weaponry and capacity to embarrass the Nigerian Army.

We acknowledge the fact that it is more difficult to fight insurgents who adopt eclectic tactics than regular forces, which fight by conventional methods. Yet the report, which suggests that whole towns have been seized by the insurgents, is a damning verdict on the armed forces. How could whole towns and cities be seized from the Nigerian Army? What is the Army not doing right? Is it a problem of inferior equipment or low morale or both? Is it true that the insurgents have been strengthened by ransom sums paid to them by the government? Are there enough men on the ground to do the job? Have funds meant to prosecute the war been diverted by senior officers? Can an army that is faced with such a herculean task have the time and resources to deploy men and material to peaceful territories outside the war zone?

There is no cause for cheer. Countless lives have been lost. The morale of soldiers is low. Less than six weeks to the general elections Boko Haram seems to have stepped up its activities. Apart from loss of lives, people in the ‘conquered territory’ will not exercise their constitutional right to vote. Is there a grand agenda against the election or against the government by fifth columnists? What has suddenly breathed life into Boko Haram?

The President should wake up from his slumber. The army needs a shake-up. This is not the time for excuses. The war must be fought and won and the captured territories set free. If the resources, which the army asked for have been released, if the right equipment have been purchased then it has no excuse whatsoever to cede territories to the scoundrels. If it is true that on the watch of the current Army Command the scoundrels have expanded their territory then we need new blood, tactics and strategies. Routinely, army commands are tinkered with when the desired results are not achieved. If the President really means business this is the time to act. Stop Boko Haram now!

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