It Can End In A Week But Officials in Security Services & Govt. Profit From Boko Haram Crises

Jan. 31, 2014

Idang Alibi

Idang Alibi

“If the Federal Government decides today that the Boko Haram insurgency should end in one week or one month or one year or even for much longer, that is exactly what will happen’’. This is the most shocking disclosure which a very senior Borno State Government official made over the week end at a social event I was privileged to attend. Wearing a very sad and grave countenance, the senior official went on to say, ‘’I say this because the armed forces fighting the insurgency have literally succeeded in chasing the insurgents and limiting them to one corner of Borno state’’. ‘’Today,’’ he went on, ‘’we have not more than one thousand Boko Haram terrorists and they have been consigned to no more than six local government areas of the state namely Bama, Gwoza, Kaga and some are scattered on some islands of Abadam, Kukawa and Marte local government areas”.

Having heard these remarks which were not specifically addressed to me, the journalistic instinct in me compelled me to move closer to the official to ask him more because I could not understand why anyone in Nigeria will not be interested in putting a quick end to the activities of an insanely violent outfit that has done much to undermine development in the north east region of the country in particular and in the nation in general in the past four years. So devastating has been the impact of the insurgents that the Federal Government itself has been moved to pledge that a sort of Marshall Plan is needed to get the entire North East region back on its development feet. I am fully aware of the fact that some Nigerians are given to making wild allegations and talking authoritatively about some matters they know little or nothing about. But the calibre of the official who made the above quoted public remarks and who also told me much more about the various intrigues surrounding the fight against Boko Haram when I met him in a one-on-one interview later, cannot be doubted because I know him to be sufficiently well placed, sufficiently responsible and well informed enough to know what he is talking about.

My conversation with that official opened the eyes of my understanding to shake my head in disbelief about some of the things I got to hear about our country. It emerged that there are some officials in the security services and in the government who profit handsomely from this Boko Haram crisis and other crises and therefore are interested in a prolongation of the war in Borno and the North East axis. To put it more diplomatically, there are some for which it is not in their best interest to be very anxious about a quick end to the Boko Haram crisis or any other crisis for that matter.

What passes for governance in our country is truly a mystery to those who seek to understand some issues. I was informed that when the crisis broke out and the Joint Task Force (JTF) was constituted and placed under the authority of the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Alex Badeh who is now the Chief of Defence Staff, there was some fierce inter-service rivalry of which President Jonathan had occasion recently to warn our men under arms against.

It is quite unfortunate that while hundreds and thousands of lives are being lost; while property is being destroyed and economic activities severely disrupted, what is uppermost on the minds of those charged with the responsibility of putting the insurgency down is turf war and petty rivalries and jealousies.

From what I heard, I invite President Jonathan to investigate what is clearly a cynical attitude on the part of our soldiers involved in the fight against the Boko Haram. We hear that in spite of the public claims of some members of the armed forces, some of them are interested in the prolongation of the crisis because they feed fat on it. If after a presidential investigation this accusation is found to be uncharitable, Jonathan should make it clear because some hold dear to that belief.

There is also the feeling among the people of the North East that the Federal Government is rather lukewarm about quickly ending the insurgency because it is taking place in a corner of the country that media attention is severely lacking. The people also think that there is the attitude among the federal authorities that the insurgents are essentially fighting, killing and maiming their people and destroying their infrastructure so it is not something to worry too much about. This type of thinking is no doubt an expression of frustration on the part of the North Easterners who are feeling the pains of the madness that has been their lot in the past four years.

This frustration however arises from their belief that now that the Boko Haram fighters have been virtually consigned to one known corner of the place, all that the Federal Government needs to do is to muster a massive force backed with arms and ammunition to surgically extirpate the severely depleted forces of the enemies. Living under the terror and cruelty of the Boko Haram fighters has turned many North Easterners into some emergency military strategists. You need to hear the passion with which some of them speak about how a decisive end can be put to the Boko Haram menace if the Federal authorities are keen and concerned enough.

It is possible that President Jonathan and some of the high ups in Abuja are satisfied that the insurgency which had engulfed much of the North and spread to Abuja and even gone beyond to Kogi State has now been essentially limited to Borno. But what is needed now is not to be content with that achievement, significant though it obviously is. A more determined and decisive efforts should be mobilised to put a definitive end to what has become a festering cancerous sore on the body of Nigeria. If foreign assistance is needed for the final onslaught, let the Federal Government seek it by all means.

The Boko Haram insurgency is not just the problem of the North or of the North East; it has become a major Nigerian problem. It is the reason that soldiers have today become so dangerously exposed to civilian life, manning checkpoints and openly collecting bribe as if they were policemen. It has also done much harm to our economy and the image of our country. None can today successfully estimate how much billions of dollars of Direct Foreign Investment this country has lost as a result of this problem. The sight of many of our roads and streets partially blocked as a result of the fear of Boko Haram terror makes me feel ashamed of my country. Have we become Iraq, Pakistan or Afghanistan? A siege mentally has developed in some Nigerians as a result of this unfortunate development in our country.

If, as some North Easterners claim, Jonathan can do something to put an end to the open sore plaguing our nation, he should today summon his war council and advance on Borno to liberate his country from some misguided souls who have held it hostage in the past four harrowing years.