Thursday 29th June, 2017
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Whither the fight against Boko Haram?

Whither the fight against Boko Haram?

It was recently disclosed that the Buhari Government has spent a whopping $2.6bil­lion to address challenges arising from the destructions caused by Islamic militants, the Boko Haram. Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Gabriel Olonishaki who made the disclosure at the meeting of the ‘Global Coalition Working to Defeat ISIS’ in Washington, D.C., United States of America was quoted to have said, “After over 2.6 billion dollars was spent by the Nigerian Government to ad­dress humanitarian needs in 2016 – more needs were seen when areas were recovered from Boko Haram.
“Many in this room joined us in Oslo, Norway just last Febru­ary to show support with Nige­ria. Coalition is fundamental”, Olonishaki insisted to fighting the global enemy of us all called terrorism. $2.6 billion translates to some trillions of naira, an amount by any economic analy­sis is colossal in present day Nige­ria. But it is not the huge amount that is the issue because having gone through the harrowing ex­perience Nigerians went through from attacks by Boko Haram, every Nigerian seems convinced that even if the entire annual na­tional budget of about N6 trillion is spent to contain the Islamist fighters, it is still a worthy nation­al cause.
A group, Network of Civil So­ciety Organisations, NECSO, re­ported that no fewer than 23,000 Nigerians have been killed since the outbreak of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-eastern part of Nigeria. Within the same period, a total of 2.15 million per­sons have been displaced from their homes and communities as a result of the conflagration. The startling figures were disclosed at the Northeast Humanitarian Summit held as part of the activi­ties designed by the United Na­tions General Assembly, to hon­our those brutally murdered by terrorists in Bagdad, Iraq, includ­ing a UN envoy, Sergio Vieira De Mello.
Similarly, officials of the Nigeri­an Union of Teachers (NUT) said that the Islamist militants killed over 600 teachers and displaced more than 19000 others in some parts of the North. This was dis­closed by Michael Olukoya, the national president of the union, who gave a break down of the ca­sualties as follows: 308 in Borno, Adamawa (75), Yobe (18), Kadu­na (25), Plateau (120), Kano (63) and Gombe (2).
These horrifying figures only go to confirm that these Islamist militants are real dangerous en­emies of the nation for which no amount of national resources is too much to expend to neutralize them. But arising from the Chief of Defence Staff’s disclosure are some worrisome questions on the fight against the terrorist group in the north.
Nigerians have had cause to call to question, the federal govern­ment’s declaration that the Boko Haram has been technically de­feated because since that declara­tion, the group has become more daring. Its leader, the invincible Imam Shekau, claimed by sol­diers to have been killed has not only been speaking but appears to have overcome the recent lead­ership crisis in his evil camp that threatened to overthrow him. The splinter Boko Haram group that emerged seems to have died on arrival. Sadly, on the March 27, the Federal Government fi­nally admitted that Shekau has not been killed. The Minister of Defence, General Mansur Dan-Ali, disclosed this to State House reporters after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on the se­curity situation in Nigeria ex­plaining that it had been difficult to arrest Shekau because the in­surgents usually put on masks to conceal their identities.
It does appear that the term “technical defeat” was properly understood only by the Federal Government’s administrative and political appointees while the rest of the government’s institutions and ordinary Nigerians only un­derstood the proclaimed defeat as a total defeat. Consequently, these institutions and people seem to have dropped their guards there­by creating the loopholes for the Boko Haram to unleash more fe­rocious attacks. So many soldiers have been killed in the last one year, after the so-called technical defeat, that many now wonder if military personnel were dying at that rate when they were fighting the insurgents at the peak of the hostilities.
There is also the perplexity that after the capture of the Sambisa Forest, the headquarters of the insurgents, no Chibok girl was found. All Nigerians are being told is that the Boko Haram fight­ers are easily joining the military and paramilitary agencies, places that they would list be allowed to be found whether they repented or not.
Even as the insurgency recedes, chilling stories of fraudulent handling of relief materials and government money released to tackle all aspects of the militants’ destructions leave much to be desired especially given the anti-corruption stance of the Buhari administration. In our opinion, the whole issues surrounding the handling of Boko Haram call to question, the capabilities of the intelligence units of our secu­rity outfits, the integrity, political neutrality and honesty of govern­ment agents in the management of the crisis.

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