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.