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FG’s deafening silence over Boko Haram occupation of LGs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barely 7 months after assumption of office President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2015, the Federal Government announced that the country had “technically” won the war against terror.

The president at the time bragged that the jihadist group Boko Haram could no longer mount “conventional attacks” against security forces or population centres like it did prior to 2015. He ascribed the supposed victory to the reorganising, retraining and reequipping of the army.

The war against insurgency had featured prominently in the build up to the 2015 general elections, as the then opposition APC had severally accused the ruling party of laxity in the fight against terrorism. Its presidential candidate, Buhari had then promised to end Boko Haram’s reign of terror in its first six months in office.

The president, in a December 2015 interview with BBC, had said that the jihadists had been all but driven out from Adamawa and Yobe states, and their operations curtailed.

“Boko Haram has reverted to using improvised explosive devices, IEDs,” he said.

“But articulated conventional attacks on centres of communication and populations... they are no longer capable of doing that effectively.

“So I think technically we have won the war because people are going back into their neighbourhoods. Boko Haram as an organised fighting force, I assure you, that we have dealt with them.”

One year after in December 2016, during a national broadcast celebrating the capture of Boko Haram’s operational headquarters in Sambisa Forest, President Buhari again used the expression ‘technical defeat’, and since then the concept has been part of our political lexicon.

But despite several claims by the President Buhari’s regime that the terrorist group Boko Haram no longer holds any major territories in the North-East, a lawmaker representing Damboa/Gwoza/Chibok federal constituency, Ahmadu Jaha, recently said the insurgents are occupying eight out of 10 local government areas in the northern part of Borno State.

Hon. Jaha while contributing to a motion on the need for special funding for security agencies alleged that, “A number of geographical locations in Borno State and other insurgency-related areas are under the occupation of Boko Haram.”

“Let us take for instance, in a local government that has 13 electoral wards like my own Gwoza, only three or four are not under the occupation of Boko Haram.

“In Chibok, I have 10 electoral wards, only two are not under the occupation of Boko Haram. In Damboa, I have 10 electoral wards, only one is not under the occupation of Boko Haram. This is as far as Chibok/Damboa/Gwoza federal constituency is concerned.

“The Chief Whip to the House can bear me witness, out of the 10 local governments in northern Borno, only two local governments and it is only their headquarters, are still not under the occupation of Boko Haram.”

Jaha’s revelation sent shock waves around the country, as many had been under the impression that the group had to a large extent, been crushed. What is even more shocking is that the Presidency has been mum over this allegation. Little or nothing has been said to counter the claim or at least explain to what extent the occupation has been.

Even more critical is the wrong signal this will send to potential investors hoping to do business in the country as no investor will be willing to do business in a volatile environment.

Though some successes have been recorded in the fight against insurgency, the claim that Boko Haram has been defeated is grossly exaggerated, as the realities on the ground clearly suggest that terrorist attacks have not been completely eliminated.

Boko Haram has continues to attack soldiers and citizens across north-eastern Nigeria and in neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon. The crisis has left 27,000 people dead, destroyed more than 1,000 schools and displaced more than 2 million people.

There have been reports suggesting that Boko Haram collect taxes from local communities under its control in return for providing security, they claim the terrorist imposed a levy of N10,000 Naira on fishermen using the waters of Lake Chad.

The war is said to have cost the country over $9billion yet a raid on a military base at Metele in 2018, near the border with Niger and Chad left around 100 soldiers dead and more than 150 missing, even though the army insists the death toll was 23.

Buratai had in 2018 advised that the army “must start to plan and strategise on how to end the operations in the north-east,” he claim to have directed the army to a change from “a wholly defensive posture to one where we defend in numbers and conduct offensive operations in smaller packets but simultaneously in different fronts.”

The concept of “technical defeat” as was used by President Buhari may not be entirely wrong, as it could connote degrading, slowing down, or demoralizing the enemy in an incremental manner, leading them to retreat rather than advance.

While we agree that a technically defeated enemy is no longer in a position to pose a major threat and could be said to be on the verge of total annihilation, the current government must focus on when “technical” defeat will result in total defeat.

This can be achieved with the combination of military success and winning over the hearts and minds of sympathizers of extremist ideologies. The various levels of government, faith-based organizations, and local communities must therefore engage in a conversation aimed at reforming the people’s mind by pushing massages of peace and unity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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