Why Boko Haram seems to be having an upper hand

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Why Boko Haram seems to be having an upper hand

What ought to be done or should have been done is the apprehension of those people who are aiding, financing, coordinating and covering the insurgents. This group of people are highly influential in the society, some of them are business men but a considerable number are top politicians. It is sad to say that President Muhammadu Buhari, after three years as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces couldn’t arrest lest of all prosecute one single member of this group. And so this insurgency which I have labeled as Terrorism Incorporated will continue for some time.

Dr. Abubakar M.S

It is no longer news that Boko Haram insurgents recorded some successes in their wild escapades of destroying lives and ransacking rural communities in Borno state this November. I am still unable to fathom the reason why the insurgents only target the poor peasants outside the state capital. Clear signs have revealed that the insurgents will eventually unleash their anger on the local populace and reverse the narrative that tends to portray them as a group of vanquished rag tag militia. The only sad dimension to this development is that military authorities and other stakeholders didn’t take these warnings seriously.

I have always said it that the disappearance or otherwise of Abubakar Shekau,Abumusab AlBarnawi and the others will not end this insurgency, neither will the extermination of their numerous foot soldiers achieve the same. What ought to be done or should have been done is the apprehension of those people who are aiding, financing, coordinating and covering the insurgents. This group of people are highly influential in the society, some of them are business men but a considerable number are top politicians. It is sad to say that President Muhammadu Buhari, after three years as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces couldn’t arrest lest of all prosecute one single member of this group. And so this insurgency which I have labeled as Terrorism Incorporated will continue for some time.

Now earlier on I was making reference to some signs that Boko Haram insurgents will make a deadly come back. What were those signs? First of all, we are approaching elections which have always been characterized by violence because of the inordinate desire of political players to tame their passions, manage successes and failures. It is not unusual for politicians to team up or support deadly groups like Boko Haram to attack, frustrate and de market their opponents. They will do anything in their power to make the masses to resent their opponent especially where such opponent is in power. The only way to inflict pain on the opponent is to make life unbearable to the masses who will in turn blame their leaders and rally round to vote him out.

Secondly and this is very important, the level of complaints and grumbling within the military has reached an alarming rate. Troops serving in the northeast especially Borno have been complaining bitterly because of what they claimed to be negligence by their commanders to the extent that they volunteer vital information laced with truths, half truths and lies to the media. There are instances where these soldiers and their officers allegedly collaborate with the insurgents to sabotage the Nigerian state.

Thirdly, the inability of the Nigerian Government to devote enough money to intelligence gathering, weakness in intelligence sharing and inter agency rivalry is not helping matters. There is need to devote money to private security concerns, media houses to help in investigative journalism and community leaders to gather intelligence which the military needs to defeat the insurgents. The media must be empowered with grants to investigate this insurgency and also hold people accountable. The media must be empowered to name and shame the sponsors and financiers of this criminal enterprise.

Another major area is the issue of unemployment, poverty and injustice by the political leaders. The gains recorded by the military in 2015-16 may be lost if political leaders do not sit down to provide solutions to the humanitarian crisis in Borno state. At the moment they have left that duty to the INGOs. There is no way insurgency will be uprooted from Borno state if the humanitarian crisis in the state continue to persist because insurgency thrives in an environment that is associated with poverty, joblessness, hunger, purposelessness and injustice. We have heard tales of how the Borno State Government spent a whooping N25 billion to procure agricultural equipments and machineries to engage the young people of the state. I doubt if this is true otherwise the investment has not achieved the desired result. Still this is beyond Borno as a state. Where is the Presidential Committee on Northeast Initiatives, Victim Support Fund and the Federal Ministry of Youths?

Enough of this wailing and complaining. Now what is the way out?

First of all, soldiers serving in the northeast for more than three years (and there are many of them ) should be redeployed and the living conditions of troops should be improved upon. There is no harm in increasing their operational allowance to 50,000 instead of the present 45,000.Modern equipments and sophisticated assault rifles must be made available to them. In addition to this the President must take the bull by the horn and fire his National Security Advisor and the Minister of Defense because the two couldn’t provide useful intelligence on insurgents and criminals destabilizing their respective states. I hear a lot of complaints about the need to sack the service chiefs. This is wrong because they are trying their best but the NSA and the Defense minister are simply a disgrace.

Secondly, the media should desist from patronizing soldiers and officers who sell intelligence for whatever reason because this habit will eventually lead to the corruption of the soldiers and the officers. At the moment this practice has made some soldiers and officers to gather intelligence on operations and then sell it to the highest bidder. Where a soldier or an officer has an issue to report and he or she is scared of revealing his or identity, the military can provide a special phone number or email to channel these grievances because sometimes these soldiers and officers have genuine grievances that must be heard.

There is need for the military to launch massive and sustainable offensive attacks on insurgents lurking around the Damboa  and Munguno axis with immediate effect. But beyond that the Borno State Government must make effort to negotiate with the insurgents. The fact that this war is reaching its tenth landmark means that both warring factions are weary and so everyone is eager to now sit on the table to put an end to this madness once and for all. This issue of dialogue and negotiation should not be left to the Federal Government alone, no. The State Government must also get involved since the leaders and commanders of Boko Haram are not ghosts but locales who are known and reachable, the political leaders must reach out to them.

Let me also make this important observation here. The Nigeria Police Force should also be reinvigorated and empowered to get actively involved in issues of internal security. We have seen how super cops like DCP Abba Kyari,ACP AM Bello and others are fighting crimes with meager resources. I am of the opinion that if government can increase the funding of the police, they will do wonders.

The last but not the least is to channeled resources into reconstruction of livelihoods, job creation and poverty eradication. Now that Professor B.U Zullum is most likely going to be the next Governor of Borno and as someone who is conversant with the challenges, we expect him to mobilize the INGOs, agencies like PCNI,VSF and BoI to archive this goal.

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