By Hussaini Monguno,
Nigerians are the forgetful type. They can exert pressure on government alright and on several occasions, they have proved their ability to hold government to account. It is this pressure and the persistent spirit of the Nigerian people that had forced the military to hurry out of power in 1999. With a media that has proved its mettle long before independence, Nigerians are Africa’s pace setters in many respects.
But their undoing has always proved damn costly, most times in needless wastage of human lives. When Acting President Yemi Osinbajo ordered all the country’s service chiefs to relocate to Maiduguri in order to take charge of the war against the Boko Haram insurgency, Nigerians were at their best clapping and showering encomiums on the federal government for the renewed vigor and valve in the fight to deal with the resurgence of suicide bombings, hostage taking and daring attacks on several targets in parts of Borno state. As soon as that order was issued, the mainstream media and their online counterparts were agog with all manner of praises and eulogy for the Acting President and this has led to the rekindling of hopes of a magical wand on end.
How can we be so forgetful? Have we quickly forgotten that there has always been a subsisting order from the Commander-In-Chief himself on the service chiefs to relocate to Maiduguri to hasten the fall of Boko Haram? To my knowledge, the order given by President Muhammadu Buhari shortly on assumption of office in 2015 to the top security helmsmen has never been abdicated by the President.
In other words, the security chiefs had obeyed President Buhari’s order but however, disregarded it soon after as they all scrambled back to their air-conditioned offices in Abuja without accomplishing the original objective of fully degrading the militants. The new order, issued by Osinbajo is therefore an order too many. The razzmatazz that accompanied the relocation of the service chiefs is a pointer that Nigerians can easily be sold dummies, regardless of their much-touted resilience and the spirit of holding government accountable. We are therefore constrained to conclude that the fight against the insurgents has been politicized and degraded to its lowest level so far.
What exactly is happening in Borno state? Why are we witnessing this resurgence only in Borno state? Why is the fight, bombings and attacks consigned to only one particular area? We are curious to know why everywhere else other than Borno is quite. The Chadians have successfully dealt with the terrorists, ditto for Niger and Cameroun Republics. Even in Nigeria, we are inquisitive as to why Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe are bereft of these mindless acts of bloodletting, leaving Borno to continue to suffer untold loss of lives and property. Today, the whole terror campaign has been restricted to Borno state and around the city of Maiduguri in particular.
Is it a mere coincidence that while the University of Maiduguri was battling with the daily acts of suicide bombings within its premises, its academic personnel and students suddenly became targets of hostage taking and murder in the hands of the same insurgents and far away from the capital city? The report of the ambush on a group of University of Maiduguri students and staff of geology department who were on an oil exploration assignment around Magumeri cannot be just a mere happenstance. Even the Military had issued out a statement reinforcing the belief that there was more to it than met the eye. This angle also underlined the general suspicion that the terror campaign in Borno state has very unusual currents that are amplifying and fanning its embers.
The order to relocate to Maiduguri served on service chiefs by Acting President Osinbajo raises more questions and strengthened the suspicion that the fight against terror has now been fully politicized, in the Maiduguri axis, at least. What has happened to the original ‘’relocate to Maiduguri’’ order issued to the same service chiefs by President Muhammadu Buhari on assumption of office in 2015? The order is supposed to still be subsisting because no counter order has emanated from the President. Issuing another similar order therefore tantamount to an order ‘’too many.’’
Another aberration in the entire gamut of inconsistencies was the call by the service chiefs on the people of Borno state to provide ‘’useful information’’ on the location of the insurgents. Are they telling us that after all these years that they have been involved in several multimillion dollar air sorties and surveillance, blocking and fighting patrols, intelligence gathering and effective ambushes on the terrorists, our security forces have not yet mastered the territory of Borno state even by head? What about the daily cases of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) volunteering to lead the way to Boko Haram locations in the bushes and the soldiers flatly refusing to take advantage? What about the several groups of hunters whose heads contained the map of the Sambisa Forest and who have, several times, agreed to be in the lead to take the fight to the bad boys?
Two distinct options are available to Governor Kashim Shettima, Acting President Osinbajo or President Buhari if he returns soon. Option number one is: call a summit of all top ex-security officers of Borno extraction to sound them out on what their perceptions are on the way out of this quagmire. Borno is blessed with top serving and former security men who have reached the apex of their chosen callings. I am talking about people like, Former Chief of General Staff, Air Marshal Al-Amin Daggash; former Director General of the SSS, Afakiriya Gadzama; former Chief of Defence Intelligence, General Ibrahim Saeed; Air Vice Marshal Abba Ali Zanna; AIG Muktar Alkali; DCP Babaduna Shettima and many others whom I am sure will have very positive and useful ideas on how to contain the fire of this insurgency. Calling them to spit their suggestions out will add value to the effort to nip the Boko Haram madness.
The other option is: invite the leadership of all CJTF formations in Borno state to a closed door meeting in order to have an update on the hideouts and other locations of the terrorists. We in Borno state are aware that the operatives of the CJTF have awesome knowledge of these hideouts and it is on record that on several occasions, they have volunteered such information and have agreed to lead the way, only for such patriotic sacrifices to be rejected or discountenanced.
This is at the heart of the inability of the security operatives to take the fight to the insurgents and to decimate them for peace to prevail. While the service chiefs are publicly calling for information on hideouts on one hand, here we have young men and women armed with clubs and sticks, on the other hand, who have awesome area knowledge inviting the military to locations where Boko Haram terrorists are positioned. Why are they foot-dragging? Are we truly serious about ending this insurgency at all? If we are, then why the apathy?
Monguno is an Abuja based security analyst.