That Boko Haram has continued to wreak havoc in the North-East of Nigeria with regularity and recklessness is a fact that gives cause for concern. But of more concern is the daring nature of the attacks. The sect has become so emboldened that it now invades military formations with impunity. The Federal Government had repeatedly said that Boko Haram had been degraded, but the destructive activities of the group in the last few months have not borne out this overly optimistic assessment of the situation on ground. Obviously, a major part of the problem is the misinformation or half-truths as far as the situation with Boko Haram is concerned.
Government’s positive evaluation of the situation had given Nigerians false sense of hope and security that the group had been, indeed, defeated.
They had hitherto come to believe that the capacity of the sect to cause mayhem had been reduced, hence its recourse to the use of suicide bombers to hit soft targets. For instance, on April 24, 2018, three suspected suicide bombers were killed after a foiled attack near Maiduguri. Suicide bombings by teenagers is one of the ways Boko Haram had continued to carry out attacks especially on civilian targets.
But the daring attack on the 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele in Borno State on November 18, where several soldiers were killed in the dusk invasion has now dispelled any lingering hope that the murderous sect had indeed been degraded. The huge casualty rate in the Metele assault was not limited to the men alone as those who lost their lives included the commander of the battalion, a lieutenant colonel.
The second-in-command, the intelligence officer of the battalion and two other officers, were also among those killed by Boko Haram in the attack. Similarly, Baga, a community in northern Borno which hosts the headquarters of the Multi-National Joint Task Force combating Boko Haram insurgents, was attacked by the terrorists late in December.
These latest assaults on military formations, not churches, mosques or other soft targets, clearly show a resurgence in the activities of the insurgents. So, government cannot afford any longer to regale Nigerians with tales of how they’ve bombed this or that hideout. It is imperative that Nigerians are told the true situation in the fight against the insurgents, so that they can have realistic expectations.
The tendency of the army to be economical with the truth especially in regards to casualty figures after any of Boko Haram’s attacks doesn’t help in any way. Does lying about the figure reduce the actual number of its men killed? In the particular case of Metele, the army took so long to respond to enquiries and when it finally did, after been forced to due to the outcry by Nigerians, it spent more time castigating the media, accusing them of spreading falsehoods.
To stop such claims of speculation in the future, the army needs to quickly respond. Even the response time of the army in evacuating its own fallen soldiers after the Metele invasion, leaves much to be desired.
Decomposing bodies of fallen soldiers were said to have littered the place days after their brutal massacre. As if these shortcomings were not enough it has emerged that massive corruption among top military chiefs appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari is the reason Nigeria is losing the war against Boko Haram.
Defence and Foreign Affairs made this damning revelation in its Special Analysis released on December 28. The Defence and Foreign Affairs reports are published by the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) based in the United States of America. ISSA is a Washington-based nongovernmental organisation with a worldwide membership of professionals involved in national and international security and strategic policy. Excerpts from the reports show the typical nature of response of security top brass. “…
The only significant engagement which the Nigerian military leadership seems to prioritise is the fight to stop the leakage of information about massive corruption, running into the equivalent of several billions of dollars, in the purchase by senior military officers of major military capital goods and military consumables, including the troops’ own food.”
The report further stated: “No significant economic or political progress can be achieved in Nigeria until the issue of the Boko Haram insurgency is resolved….” Expectedly, the Nigerian Armed Forces have consistently denied any allegation of corruption against the leadership. They have also repeatedly said they are capable of not only stopping the insurgents but rooting them out completely. We have heard such assurances before. Unfortunately, they didn’t amount to anything.
The only news that Nigerians want to hear now is complete annihilation of Boko Haram. Anything short of that will not appeal to them in the face of endless decimation of young military men by Boko Haram.
So, we cannot emphasise enough the urgency in dealing a decisive blow to Boko Haram. The government owes it as a duty to the young, courageous military men fighting the butchering band of insurgents.