Boko Haram: Buhari’s Earliest Challenge | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Boko Haram: Buhari’s Earliest Challenge

Posted: Jun 3, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Augustine Adah,  Lagos


Despite the successes so far recorded by security agents few weeks to the end of the last administration in combating the menace of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, the terrorist group continues to unleash terror on the people, especially in Borno and Yobe states. In the last few days, Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, has come under severe attacks by members of the dreaded sect. For example, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), believed to be planted by suspected members of the Boko Haram sect, on Sunday, exploded at a popular market, Gamboru Market, in Maiduguri, leaving four persons critically injured.

This happened less than 24 hours after attempts by members of the group to invade the town was repelled by the military. It was gathered that not less than 16 persons died in the attack.  Few hours later a mosque located at the main market in the town, Monday Market, was attacked by a suicide bomber, during which 26 persons were reportedly killed and 28 others injured. Members of the sect also attacked some markets in Yobe and looted some shops.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari, who has ordered the military to relocate to Maiduguri in order to tackle the insurgents, has reacted to the spate of attacks in the wake of his taking over the reins of government. In a statement issued by the head of his media team, Garba Shehu, the President warned that the new administration would not tolerate wanton and willful destruction of lives by criminal elements bent on anarchy. He stated that his administration meant business in its determination to tackle terrorism with all the resources available to his government. Buhari described terrorists as cowardly murderers whose target is to kill innocent Nigerians.

He declared that as the Commander-in-Chief, he had sworn to protect the security of Nigerians everywhere. The President called on local communities to intensify vigilance while assuring them of his administration’s preparedness to give security close attention. He further pledged that his government was committed to boosting the morale of the armed forces by effectively funding them and attending to their welfare. While condoning with families of the victims of the latest terrorist attacks on the town, he assured them that the worst days of the criminal elements would soon be over.

Speaking on the renewed hostility, the former governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, said the action is most expected, because the group would want to demonstrate their strength before the new administration in order to possibly get a solid base for negotiation. According to Musa, the government should expect more attacks in the coming weeks until the new government is able to take a better approach towards combating the sect. Musa who had on several occasions criticized the approach adopted by the former administration believe that with the link of Boko Haram to ISIS in Middle-East, it is unthinkable for any person to say that the insurgency would disappear within few weeks or months. While appreciating the success record of the military, Musa urged the new administration to be forthright and determined in its approach towards finding the best solution to the problem.

The former governor of Kaduna State attributed the failure of previous administration to combat Boko Haram group was due to the government’s inability to take a right approach. He said he expected the new government to through open suggestions on how to deal with the group especially among the political class. “The government (of Goodluck Jonathan) failed because it restricted its searchlight for solution among PDP leaders and members,” Musa said.

The Jonathan government which handed over power to Muhammadu Buhari on May 29 inherited the Boko Haram problem when it came into office in 2010. Throughout the life span of the government, Jonathan took several steps aimed at solving the problem, such as creating a special joint military task force to eliminate Boko Haram, installing numerous closed circuit televisions throughout the Federal Capital Territory, and tapping Ambassador Usman Gaji Galtimari to head a committee with the specific goal of dealing with Boko Haram.

The government, sometime last year, engaged the service of a security expert in negotiating with the group. But at the end, what appeared to be a solution and possible release of Chibok girls who were kidnapped on April 14, 2014, turned out to be mere deceit.  However, Nigerians expressed optimism that the new administration would be able to do better than the former administration, especially on the effort to release over 200 Chibok girls who have spent over one year in the den of insurgents.

Based on Buhari’s military background and experience, he is expected to approach the matter in a more result-oriented manner than his predecessor, especially as he has made insecurity one of the priorities of his administration. It is argued that Jonathan’s administration could not do much to curtail the activities of the group until the last days of his administration because the people into whose hands he committed the job were not sincere in handling the matter. At a point the former president disclosed that members of Boko Haram have infiltrated into his administration, yet he was handicapped in handling the matter. The Nigerian Military who were in the vanguard of fighting the battle were alleged to have compromised. It was believed that a lot of them have links with sect members, thereby leaking information to them on several occasions.