By: Bukar Raheem
One really wonders why some people still can not stand the fact that their doomsday predictions for Nigeria failed. Despite glaring realities, said group of people choose to disbelieve the fact that the Nigerian military, indeed, is the best. This is evidenced in the incontrovertible fact that they, the Nigerian military, have been able to defeat one of the world’s deadliest and once dreaded terrorist groups; the Boko Haram.This is a feat other nations could not attain despite mass availability of public support and unlimited resources. These people coming in various hues churn out unsubstantiated allegations. The recent article posted on Punch website headlined “Boko Haram battle stalls as population starves” fits into this category.
What the World Food Programme has called “famine-like” conditions have prompted experts to warn against seeking victory over the jihadists at all costs”, has been turned into something that Nigerians would one day have cause to grieve. Some days back, the Nigerian Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai issued a directive for troops to crush whatever was left of the Boko Haram terrorists by the end of this month. In turn, this lead to a counter attack. Surprisingly, the attack did not come directly from the Boko Haram terrorists or on the physical theatre of war but, by way of slanted news reports, analysis and comments by organizations whose true intent one must now interrogate.
There is also the question of timing. There must be something about such news stories surfacing whenever a decisive push is about to be made against the Boko Haram terrorists. Had the Chief of Army Staff not given the directive, would this “in-depth” news report have been published? The answer to this question is best arrived at using the antecedents of those spurring the reports.
A fact that can not be ignored is that the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are suffering in the various camps. Before considering other hardships they must have been faced with, one must first consider that it is never easy to come to terms with the fact that one has lost their home and, or livelihood. This as we know, interrupts the normal lifestyle of the individuals.
The accommodations in the camps, as one might guess, are not of high standards as these are mere makeshift contraptions for many of the IDPs. Adding to the depressing situations, the camps are also faced with feeding problems. This, which is directly linked to the destruction wreaked by the Boko Haram insurgency, is not the making of the army. Donor agencies made pledges that took long to be fulfilled and others where not redeemed at all. Furthermore, administrative issues and other unforeseen problems muddles an already complex logistics of reaching the right people.
If this was not bad enough, inadequate nutrition, paired with substandard living quarters, results in the deadly mix that has left the camps witnessing more deaths than were possible if these factors are not mixed.
Sadly, even the desperate outlook of the camp has not stopped the last of the insurgents from still strapping explosives to themselves, or to drugged, and brainwashed, couriers that target the IDPs Camps as soft targets. Unfortunately, a few carried out attacks while most were neutralized before they could do much damage. If the insurgents were to have their way, they would storm the camps in their infamous convoys of Hilux pickups that have now become history with successful military operations.
As observed, the dry terrain makes for rapid movement as there is no waterlogged soil to slow down insurgents and troops. The advantage offered by the season can therefore be exploited both ways. Whether anything can be gained by delaying further onslaught on a terror group that is attempting to resurge after being degraded is left for military strategists and experts to articulate.
From a layman’s point of view, the directive to smash whatever is left from these demented fanatics is a welcomed one. The year 2017 would be better ushered in if one can be rest assured that those who leave trails of wailing and sorrow are no longer in business.
To slow down the campaign against Boko Haram on account of the plight of the IDPs would be a great disservice to these people as they themselves would like the last of the insurgents purged as this would facilitate the return of the displaced persons to their homelands.
It must be noted that several seemingly normal development had in the past cluttered the anti-terror war in favour of terrorists. Questionable NGOs usually chose when the army is making progress to issue disconcerting report that are actually targeted at undermining troops morale. Although Nigeria was refused the grants to procure the critical hardware needed to defeat the terrorists, the army found its way around the problem to make headway. This is apparently not acceptable in some quarters as the matter is continually raised just to see what dissensions could be whipped up among troops.
Even more distressing is the way international corporate media often turn into the propaganda tools for Boko Haram. The kind of AFP report referenced can only help provide talking points for Boko Haram recruiters that will use it to convince other youths to join its depleted ranks. They do this at the expense of the kind of reports that contribute to defeating terrorism that has been identified as a global threat. In as much as some strategy upgrade will benefit the military, there is a need for a change in the manner of approach by which international media reports the issue of terrorism.The attitude of donor agencies and NGOs working in the world’s crisis areas also needs to be revamped.
The international media must muster the courage to speak truth to power. If ISIS is spreading its poison south of Libya into Niger, Chad, and Cameroon to worsen the Boko Haram evil, then, the corporate media must urge the cowboy nations that manufactured the wars and situations that birthed ISIS to accept responsibility for the monster they created. Nigeria, using its army, cannot be dealing with the mess created by others and then be vilified for it.
The COAS and the entire Army must therefore see through the smokescreen of deploying the challenges in the IDPs camp as the latest weapons in the hands of the terrorists for slowing down the military onslaught against them. It must be noted that if the directive to crush the last of the insurgency is vacated then the terrorists would successfully use the period of lull to recruit fresh fighters and swell its ranks.
Raheem, a public affairs analyst writes from Katsina