4th November, 2014
Insurgency in Nigeria reached a disgraceful crescendo last Thursday when the Boko Haram terrorist group invaded and overran Vimtim, the home town of the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, turning it into their playground after effectively sending Nigerian soldiers scamperingfrom various surrounding towns.
The latest territorial conquest by the terrosists would no doubt further erode the confidence Nigerians have in the team currently heading the Nigerian military. Top military commanders should stop sitting in the cozy comfort of their offices in Abuja and lead the campaign against the insurgents who keep humiliating our hitherto highly respected armed forces through their seemingly unstoppable conquests in northern Nigeria.
What is happening is akin to our leaders burying their heads in the sand like the ostrich blisfully oblivious of the danger lurking everywhere. They are more interested in the 2015 elections than exterminating the terrorists.
Who will they govern if Boko Haram kills everybody? Before Bade’s Vimtim became the latest victim of the Boko Haram insurgency, there were reports last Thursday that the terrorists were approaching Mubi, Adamawa’s second largest city. Yet the Nigerian military did nothing about it till the attack was carried out and the insurgents extended their rout to Vimtim without any resistance from any quarters.
Bade had announced with excitement on 20 January this year that the Boko Haram menace would end last April. He quickly recanted when security experts dismissed his futile optimism, considering the enormity of the task ahead of the newly appointed service chiefs at the time. Since then, the Boko Haram members have not only become emboldened, they have taken the fight to Bade’s town, with devastating consequences.
For Boko Haram the successful capture of Bade’s town is a symbolic victory over the man that equally symbolises the nation’s security forces. In the aftermath of the attack on Adamawa, the military was said to have arrested some army commanders and soldiers for absconding while the confrontation lasted. You do not expect a man to stay and fight someone with superior firepower.
Many of our soldiers are demoralised as their colleagues have died in battles because of allegations that they were ill-equipped. We trust that if our soldiers are well empowered, they would defeat the Boko Haram sect. But in a situation where they are frustrated even before embarking on the battle, nobody should expect a miracle.
The issue of ceasefire talks is a different kettle of fish. If there is ceasefire as government officials have claimed, why have the insurgents intensified their attacks that have claimed scores of lives in recent days? It is now apparent that most of the official statements emanating from the military and the government could just be mere propaganda.
If the claim that the territories captured by Boko Haram are as large three states, then the assertion that Nigeria’s military has been overwhelmed by the insurgents should be taken seriously.
The Nigerian government does not have any reason to continue to dangle the carrot before the insurgents. Abubakar Shekau has said the Chibok girls have been married out and are in despicable conditions. The government has also got the approval of the House to secure a loan to equip the military with superior arsenal. What is delaying this phase of the war against the terrorists? If the country cannot contain the terrorists, it should invite the African Union to send forces to assist in routing the jihadists. Enough of this deceit.