he current renewed horrendous activities of Boko Haram and its IS affiliates in many parts of Borno State bespeak of government’s ineffectuality to eliminate these Jihadists in their artfully contrived mission against the country. Coming years after Federal Government’s claim to have technically defeated the virulent criminals, it goes without saying that we must evolve more productive strategies to wipe out these extremists.
Interestingly, many strategies, collaborations with the countries of the Chad Basin Commission inclusive have been adopted, and not a few conferences of military chiefs in Africa have been held to identify causes, appraise effects and formulate solutions to these terrorist attacks and its cross-border nature, it remains inconceivable that the atrocious activities of the groups have continued unabated.
It is instructive that these terrorists have unleashed reign of terror in the last 10 years of the protracted attacks across the North-East and major parts of the North-Central, but truth be told, the spate and scope of the horrific terrorist attacks have been reasonably reduced since the present government assumed office in 2015, leading to the reclamation of some of the 14 local governments hitherto under the Boko Haram’s control.
We are not equally oblivious of the asymmetrical nature of the warfare and the fact that these terrorists now enjoy weapons and personnel support from various insurgent groups from North and Central Africa, it has become more imperative for the Federal Government and the military leadership to rise to the situation through more productive international military collaboration like the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and intelligence cooperation and desist from further excuses.
This has become more crucial because of the series of shocking, most unsettling and very condemnable murderous activities of the terrorists. On July 25 last year, four Nigerian employees of Action Against Hunger (AAH) who were kidnapped by ISWAP insurgents in Damasak, Borno State were executed and more recently, the disclosure via a video of the beheading on December 26, 2019, of 11 Christians who were aid workers by IS ostensibly to “avenge” the death of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a U.S. raid in Syria in October was most shocking to many.
It is on record that last Sunday, Mandaragirau, an agrarian village in Biu Local Government Area of Borno State, was attacked by Boko Haram insurgents, who incinerated churches, schools and residential houses. Last October, these same Boko Haram insurgents had opened fire on the convoy of the Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum who was returning from a trip to the Bama Local Government Area.
Governor Zulum who had visited Bayo, Kwaya Kusar, Askira Uba and Gwoza as part of his familiarity and need assessment tour of the 27 local government areas in the state, had recently complained that about three local governments in the state are under the control of the insurgents.
Such attack on Borno governor’s convoy was hardly novel, since in February last year, the same group had displayed their dare-devilry by unleashing volley of bullets on Governor Kashim Shettim, in Konduga, an area near Sambisa Forest. The former governor came under many attacks from the faction of Boko Haram under the control of Abubakar Shekau leaving some security personnel seriously injured.
As a retired General and Commander-in-Chief who made national security one of the tripod on which his campaign promises rested, President Muhammadu Buhari cannot feign ignorance of the fact that the nation expects him to objectively confront the extremists, while not discountenancing the possibility that they enjoy the support of some countries and splinter terrorist groups within and outside the continent.
Besides the procurement and deployment of new weapons, the Federal Government must also pay serious attention to the welfare, logistics and supply of the troops, especially during this current unfriendly harmattan in the desert, in order to boost their commitment to the prosecution of the war, which unfortunately had led to the loss of hundreds of soldiers. Deployment of troops to the theatre of war without the requisite supplies amounts to suicide and gradual decimation of our youths.
Equally, in view of the recent history of the military where defence budgets are diverted or siphoned by top military brass, it is also of equal significance for government to carry out periodic probe of funds and logistic deployment to the troops under the current Operation Lafia Dole, to ensure such funds actually cascade to the troops.
Also noteworthy is the need to reappraise the integration of repentant former Boko Haram members into the war on terror and Governor Zulum’s recent move to hire 150 Cameroonian vigilantes to combat the terrorist, because this has the propensity to increase security threats in the country, leaving us with more enemies within – which might be deadlier to deal with.
While military operations receive greater impetus, civilian collaboration should also be given a huge level of support as hundreds of capable youths could be hired from the state as vigilantes and be trained and equipped to carry out joint operations with the soldiers to combat Boko Haram. The time to combat this criminals is now.