That BBOG tour of Sambisa forest
Having been allowed first-hand experience of what may be termed ‘situational reality’ in the theatre of war against insurgency, the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) pressure group has issued what may be read as a commendatory assessment of the effort by the Federal Government, and the Nigerian military forces in particular, to rid Nigeria of Boko Haram insurgency as well as bring home, either by military rescue or by negotiation with their captors, the 195 remaining school girls abducted on April 14, 2014 from their school in Chibok.
Oby Ezekwesili, Aisha Yesufu, Ibrahim Usman, and Dr. Manasseh Allen, representing the Chibok community, formally reported that ‘We can confirm that the air component of the counter-insurgency war is being prosecuted by a highly professional, capable, motivated, and committed team of NAF (the Nigerian Air Force).’ The team added that ‘our exposure to the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform and the technical room of the NAF indicated the level of adoption of technology in the prosecution of the war.’
Contrary to the popular perception that the efforts to save the girls may be inadequate, this report of the team claimed to see evidence that ‘the search for the Chibok girls and other abducted citizens is a daily activity by the NAF that in the last 18 months has conducted over the Sambisa Area 2,105 missions, 3534 sorties in 6,323 time/hour flights at a fuel cost of N2.4 billion.’
For one, it was quite noble on the part of the government to have allowed the BBOG group into the heart of its operations with a view to dispelling all misgivings. It was equally noble of the group to take the challenge, whatever the risks on both sides.
Shortly after the abduction of 276 young girls from their school in the northeastern part of Borno State three years ago, the BBOG group swung into action and has neither relented nor allowed itself to be deterred – even in the face of hostile police action in some instances, and pro-government, anti-BBOG rented crowds. There can be no gainsaying the outstanding and commendable role of the group to keep on the front burner, locally and globally, the case of the abducted girls in particular, and in general, the sorry condition of Nigerians in the Boko Haram-ravaged part of the country. They have also sustained a necessary pressure on successive governments that have incurable tendency to care little about the lowly people. BBOG has boldly challenged the country’s leadership to do more in respect of a matter that not only highlights an abject failure of government to protect the citizens, but which constitutes a national embarrassment. To these extents, the BBOG group serves both symbolic and real purposes.
The group’s objective is quite clear and simple: to bring back our girls, as well as other people, from the den of Boko Haram insurgents. The members certainly did not seek to pry into the strategy and tactics of security forces to achieve this incontrovertible objective, or fly sorties in NAF planes. Nevertheless, the government, in its wisdom invited the group to see things first hand. This may be justified as a politically expedient, even a public relations act that, in the spirit of open government holds up the Federal Government as transparent in the prosecution of the war against Boko Haram. However, in military terms, some might consider the mission an ill-advised as well as a needless one.
It is said that the view of the road changes when position changes from the passenger’s seat to the driver’s. It may be admitted that too often, it is easy to stay in the comfort zone and comment one way or the other on the running of government, and even on high risk military operations. And against this background, it would seem sensible to invite interested parties to honestly experience, indeed, appreciate the reality of what is being done and how it is being done. The report of the BBOG group proves that government took a wise step to bring people into the picture.
All said, however, the girls are still missing. All efforts should therefore concentrate on bringing them, and indeed every citizen, back from captivity and restoring peace to conflict areas in order for this government to claim to have fulfilled its constitutionally defined primary purpose.
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