Dealing With The New Face Of Boko Haram | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Dealing With The New Face Of Boko Haram

Posted: Jul 22, 2015 at 2:51 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The violence and antics of Boko Haram, Nigeria’s mindless havoc-wreaking terror group, have hit a worrisome depth lately, seemingly making nonsense the gains the nation celebrated in the closing days of the Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration. Our gallant troops, reversed the setbacks we experienced, following the capture of several local government territories in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa by the blood-letting warriors of Boko Haram.

But rapidly, by the time of the departure of the former government, the Nigerian soldiers with the cooperation of local militias and forces of neighbouring countries were able to flush out the terrorists and regain complete control of our sovereignty in the occupied zones. It was a salutary victory that also enabled the country to hold peaceful ballot nationwide, particularly in the troubled North East.

Now this was no mean feat as it also brought back global confidence in the never-say-die Nigerian spirit to surmount its challenges. Until then the prevalent view was that the Boko Haram war would couple with a disagreeable poll outcome to fulfill the prediction of the breakup of Nigeria in 2015. This did not happen, thanks to a number of factors one of them being the victory over Boko Haram.

But Boko Haram’s divisive forces have not given up. Now without a command base as they had in Sambisa Forest, Gwoza, Mubi and other areas before they were dislodged, they are resorting to the time-worn strategy of guerrillas and terrorists: attacking soft targets. They are hitting churches, mosques, markets, motor parks, schools etc. Boys, girls and teenagers have been used in suicide missions that have claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent citizens in less than two months of the coming into office of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Nigerian leader, like his compatriots, is obviously disturbed to observe that under his watch a group that appeared to have been routed is suddenly returning even more fiercely with deadly blasts on almost daily basis. Casualties are scandalous. In one single explosion on July 1, the insurgents killed 97 persons at Kukwa, near Lake Chad. On June 30, 48 men were shot dead near Monguno in Borno State. There have been blasts in Jos, killing 51. And in Zaria, Kaduna the serene atmosphere at a workers’ verification exercise was blown apart by the renegades, causing the death of more than 25 with several more critically injured.

President Buhari has been to neighbouring countries and the United States of America to, among other objectives, seek a lasting solution to the Boko Haram menace in the face of the fatalities we are incurring. This is in addition to the relocation of Nigeria’s military command to the theatres of conflict in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.

Whatever bouquet of ideas, strategies and solutions the president returns with, the clarion call remains that Nigeria should adopt a more radical approach to battle and crush the new phase and face of Boko Haram. Chief among the short term tactics is that we should build on the gains of the military that saw them smoke out the group from their hideout. Our defense chiefs should also apply military intelligence ploys to be ahead of the insurgents and take the battle to them. Winning wars in modern times is more about brain work and little about brawn.

We have for too long been on the defensive. Now, it is time to be on the offensive. This will entail a combination of much undercover study of the sect and a direct combat confrontation. But this can be done only by a highly motivated and disciplined corps of troops well kitted for war. The government must possess the political will to raise such a force and do so, as if it is the only agenda on the table. We must also employ and encourage the patriotic militias to the brim, since they know the terrain and habitat of Boko Haram.

We also need to launch an aggressive enlightenment campaign in the conventional media-radio, TV, newspapers-as well as through traditional and religious leaders educating the youths on the dangers of joining the sect to war against the society.

The long term solution is to embark on a meaningful and rapid economic development, which would create employment opportunities for all Nigerians. There should also be a dynamic social welfare program for the country to accommodate the vulnerable in our midst.  There is need also to get the youths in the volatile North East into schools, vocational centers or put them to work. In a word, we need to creatively move the entire society into a productive mode, into a work mode, so there would be no idle hand waiting for the devil.

Let us remember that this war cannot be won for us by outsiders; we must fight and win it by ourselves.