Boko Haram and the military’s avowal

February 12th, 2018

By Fred Nwaozor

Sometime ago, an uncle of mine told me among my siblings during a casual family gathering that one of the prime idiosyncrasies of any security outfit anywhere in the world was over-confidence coupled with pride. He stressed that the aforementioned features invariably “make them to exaggerate as well as embrace victory in advance”, which according to him was a good step if one really means a battle he is involved.  In a bid to throw more light, he further said “over-confidence, which is often begotten by pride, has a very strong way of subduing your opponents and could make them surrender even before the battle commences”. In other words, he was actually opining that security agencies strive successfully with the help of the said tools.

 I was yet to concur with the perspective which he tendered over a decade now, not until barely two weeks ago. It isn’t anymore news that on Saturday, 3rd February 2018, the Nigeria’s military, precisely the Army, boasted publicly that the world’s third dreaded terrorist group – Boko Haram – had been ‘completely defeated’ by them. The disclosure, which came up during the inauguration of the Nigeria – Cameroon Military Joint mission in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, was presented by the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole in the person of Major General Rogers Nicholas. He said “troops under the operation Deep Punch II on Friday dislodged the terrorists at their factional ground, Camp Zero”.

 In an effort to throw more light, the commander disclosed “my soldiers are in the heart of the Boko Haram enclave. The gallant troops have broken the heart and soul of Shekau’s group, taking over the camp and its environs”. He went further to say “they are on the run and we are pursuing them to wherever they go”. Maj. Gen. Nicholas who urged the fleeing terrorists and abducted persons in the bush to come out and surrender to the troops, promising they would not be harmed or killed, informed that “this time around, there is no place for escape anywhere” as he equally revealed that hundreds of them had already surrendered and about 100 civilians rescued in the process.

 Intriguingly, just the following day after the announcement, on Sunday 4th February 2018 to be precise, the ‘completely defeated’ Boko Haram unleashed an attack on Kala village situated in Dalori, Borno State. In the mayhem, a person was reportedly murdered and several houses set ablaze. I couldn’t reconcile that barely 24 hours after we were notified that the Boko Haram had been totally crushed, the extremist sect practically disabused the army of its claim.

 It’s noteworthy that the avowal came up barely a few weeks after the leader of the jihadist group, Mr. Abubakar Shekau appeared in a latest video. In the 31-minute display, the elusive leader having boasted that his men were in good health, threatened that the battle wasn’t yet over. This is the same man who had for the umpteenth time been reportedly killed by the army. Come to think of it. It’s worth noting that the army’s declaration came just a few weeks after the State’s Security Council approved the withdrawal of one billion dollars from the country’s Excess Crude Account (ECA) towards tackling the ongoing battle against the extremists; an approval that had raised tremendous dust and ripples among millions of Nigerians.

Although I never expected the army to sound like defeatists, which they aren’t, it’s noteworthy that that boast was contradictory. We aren’t unaware how the people – particularly those from the North-Eastern part – longed to hear the military announce to the global community that the dreaded sect had been totally crushed, but it’s imperative to comprehend that such report wouldn’t be consequential if any area across the federation is still unsafe as regards terrorism. I personally understand that such information by the army might be a strategy targeted toward provoking the enemy group in order to fish their members out from their various hidden places, but it’s understandable that several other Nigerians wouldn’t be able to interpret the message as such owing to their level of understanding, hence the need for the revered security outfit to acknowledge the reality of individual differences whenever we are bound to take any action or tender any utterance, as the case may be.

In line with his campaign pledges, the President Muhammadu Buhari – led administration has thus far since assumption of power convincingly strived to tactically end the ugly existence of the Boko Haram. The Nigerian Army (NA) among other Armed Forces, on its part, has apparently proven its determination to fight doggedly in regard to the ongoing terrorism war. However, it’s pertinent for both parties leading the war in question – the Federal Government and the military – to comprehend that the extremists can only be said to have been ‘completely defeated’ when every nook and cranny of not just the North-East but the entire Nigeria obviously becomes inhabitable, and our various borders duly safeguarded at all times.

In view of the above assertion, I’m strongly of the view that exaggeration might be helpful in winning the war but could on the contrary, do more harm than good. So, it’s therefore high time every stakeholder involved squarely faced the battle as required, so that, our success thus far wouldn’t turn into fiasco. 

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