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Where are Nigeria’s allies on the war against Boko Haram?

By Simon Abah
22 September 2020   |   3:44 am
The 1991 ground war in Iraqi desert chaperoned by the United States of America lasted only 100 hours but Nigeria’s war against Boko Haram has raged on for more than a decade.

Boko Haram

“He who defends everywhere defends nowhere.” Frederick the Great
The 1991 ground war in Iraqi desert chaperoned by the United States of America lasted only 100 hours but Nigeria’s war against Boko Haram has raged on for more than a decade. What is wrong with Nigeria’s strategy on the war against insurgency? Some say there is a collective betrayal by the political elites against Nigeria. Others have said there is brisk business going on; no-thanks to the war and beneficiaries do not want the war to end. Many of these beneficiaries have turned quislings passing information to terrorists to sustain the war at their own benefits. But doesn’t Nigeria have allies that can help her win this war.

Allies are needed to ferret out information to soldiers on the whereabouts of these bad people so Nigerians can sleep with both eyes closed. Nigerians ask too many questions but get few answers.

The United States could put the fear of military-machine in 1991 in the hearts of Iraqis to surrender, through hard work, intelligence gathering, and combat training exercises and, the acquisition of sophisticated military hardware. In 1918 the British government waged a ruthless campaign against the terrorist insurgency group in Ireland and forced them to the negotiating table. A commander recruited to support the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1920 was once quoted thus: “if the persons approaching carry their hands in their pockets, or are in any way suspicious-looking, shoot them down. You may make mistakes occasionally and innocent persons may be shot, but that cannot be helped, and you are bound to get the right parties some time. The more you shoot, the better I will like you, and I assure you no policeman will get into trouble for shooting any man.”

No sane society allow the emergence of guerrilla groups, neither do societies bandy words such as “repented” to praise depraved groups. Nigeria is a country where anything is possible indeed. It is time that Nigeria request for help. It is obvious that she cannot win the war alone without help internally and most of all with help from allies abroad. The political persons that started this war have all gone rogue and the state has gone broke. The United States should take the lead to help Nigeria end this war; the sub-regional forces work at cross purposes with no direction. Chadian forces on their own with direction from their warrior president routed Boko Haram fighters the other day. This should have been a collaborative effort with other sub-regional government. China has proven over time that she is only interested in business with Nigeria more than friendship.

India contributed the highest volunteer force in history during the World War. The Chinese government, India and the United States can help end this war for Nigeria but it will take strong presidential leadership from Nigeria to do so. So far Nigeria has never had a strong president, only people interested in making money and history without clear-cut political goal. I often times wonder where the direction of our foreign policy lies, is it a policy of non-alignment as it was in the regime of Murtala Ramat Muhammed? Which country does Nigeria run to for help in case of an emergency? Golda Meir asked the United States to help Israel during the Yom Kippur war. That request saved Israel although her detractors blamed her for tactical blunders and she lost her job as Prime Minister.

What role does Britain play in Nigeria’s national life as is France that inundates Nigerians with request to learn the French Language and attend her cultural festival? They appear to pay lip-service to the development of Nigeria. If they mean well for Nigeria at all they should have been in the front helping Nigeria with men and weapons to end these insurgencies once and for all. I have heard people from close quarters say that it might be better if Nigeria draft ex-militants from the Niger Delta to fight the war against insurgency or even recruit mercenaries to comb Sambisa Forest that has proven to be impenetrable for soldiers. It is galling to hear some people say that soldiers do not know the Sambisa terrain. Where do these terrorist get their supplies (food and military hard ware)? Leadership begins at the top before developing subordinates below.  Allies should help clear the route for consistent patrol of the borders, so that infantry men with knowledge of the terrain can smoke out Nigeria’s enemies.

No country can win a war without knowing the whereabouts of the enemy. A territorial army that is not road-bound but waits for insurgents to bring the battle to them as Boko Haram has done in a decade cannot win the war on insurgency without help.

The military with support from allies must take the war to Sambisa Forest to end the war, on air and land. Pilots should be given the latitude to bomb enemies without waiting for orders. Many pilots Nigerians gather have had to abort bombing raids even when they saw raiding parties because they were not given orders to kill. In this age of digital command, Nigeria needs to beg for help so as to have access to data, intelligence and monitor the status of insurgents’ clusters in Sambisa forest, to plan and crush them.

It remains to be seen if they can be crushed. Insurgents in Nigeria latch in on the lack of national and military goals? And political persons lack ideas, all they care about is carrying women, making free money and cannot communicate clearly to make Nigerians stakeholders in the fight against insurgency or find a way to inspire the military to fight on an asymmetrical battlefield. All told, Nigeria needs to ask for help and be humble about it. She has reacted enough, it is time she began to anticipate and avert problems before they rear their ugly heads. Allies can help Nigeria achieve this if they care.

Abah, wrote from Abuja.