Impediment to decisive victory over Boko Haram

Impediment to decisive victory over Boko Haram

By Mohammad Qaddam Sidq Isa |

After nearly a decade since the eruption of the protracted war between the Nigerian state and Boko Haram insurgents, and in view of the failure of the Nigerian military to achieve a decisive victory over the terrorists, it’s high time the federal government identified and addressed the underlying impediment(s) to achieving it.

This is absolutely imperative as it appears that the already barely prepared and largely demoralized Nigerian military has practically exhausted its tactical capabilities, which explains the preventable yet recurrent massacre of its personnel at the hands of the terrorists who are growing more audacious and exhibiting more sophisticated attack and tactical maneuver, thanks to their apparently growing links with some transnational terror groups, e.g. the so-called ISIS from and/or through which they receive more terror training, more funding, more weapons and equipment.

Though the recently reported intense aerial bombardments by the Nigerian Air force against some terrorists’ hideouts, which reportedly killed hundreds of them were quite reassuring, which many Nigerians celebrated following the extremely distressing developments on the warfronts where the terrorists killed tens of Nigerian soldiers, I for one never considered the bombardments consoling enough anyway. This is even if the reports are actually accurate in the first place, as it’s obvious that exaggeration can’t be ruled out under these circumstances.

Besides, from my experience in following the developments about this war since its outbreak on which I have also written many articles in this paper, I have grown much wiser towards the official narratives about developments on the warfronts. On several occasions, the narratives sounded so reassuring inspiring Nigerians to expect an imminent decisive victory over the terrorists. In 2013, for instance, the military claimed to have killed Shekau, the terrorists’ leader; a claim they still haven’t retracted even after it appeared clearly that Shekau was/is still alive after all.

In fact, at a point, President Buhari himself declared that Boko Haram was “technically defeated”. On a subsequent occasion also, the military presented him with what they claimed was the Boko Haram’s flag, as a symbol of their purported achievement of a decisive victory following their supposed capture of the so-called “Camp Zero”, which they claimed was the most important and last main Boko Haram stronghold in the Sambisa forest, claiming further that military personnel had already begun mopping-up operations to clear the forest of any remnants of the terror group.

Of course, on each of such occasions, Nigerians would celebrate only to be shocked afterwards by a devastating terror attack(s) disproving the official narratives and signaling a resumption of another wave of attacks targeting civilians and even military units.

However, for the sake of clarity, the foregoing doesn’t dismiss the efforts of the soldiers on the warfronts in their struggle to defeat the terrorists, especially considering the hugely challenging working conditions and operating environment they operate in, which some observers sometimes ignore in their assessments of the army’s performance. After all, the military is like any other government institution in Nigeria where inefficiency and ineptitude characterize performance and service delivery.

Faced with this dilemma, the federal government should understand that achieving a decisive victory over Boko Haram terrorists requires much more than the combat capabilities of the Nigerian military. Because on the world stage today even fighting terrorism isn’t spared from the influence of global politics, geopolitical struggles and other considerations at the expense of human values. Consequently, the potential of any terror-affected country to decisively defeat terrorism depends to a large extent on its understanding of the intricacies of the underlying global politics of the war, and indeed its ability to play the political game correctly, i.e. in such a way that it secures appropriate international cooperation it necessarily needs in order to defeat it within and around its geographical boundaries.

The Buhari administration, like its two immediate predecessors i.e. the ‘Yar’ adua and Jonathan administrations respectively, equally betrays a lack of such understanding thereby inadvertently allowing the war to persist amid inexcusable global apathy towards the war even though it’s one of the worst of its kind in the world today.

To address this situation, the federal government should, for a start, identify its potential, assets, circumstances and whatever can be used as an advantageous tool to push for appropriate global recognition of its war against Boko Haram as a war that the world simply can’t afford to ignore.

This is quite achievable by, for instance, engaging relevant leading international consulting firms, international pressure groups and influential lobby groups with unhindered access to the corridors of, say, the Capitol Hill and the White House in Washington, the Palace of Westminster and 10 Downing Street in London, the Élysée Palace in Paris and the European diplomatic and military institutions headquartered in Brussels, to pursue this agenda on behalf of the federal government.

Of course, this necessarily involves a significant investment of resources, yet it’s absolutely worth it, and if sustained, it would certainly begin to result in more international media interest and wider coverage of the crisis, more cooperation from international community especially in terms of intelligence gathering and processing about the terrorists’ sources of funding and weapons as well as the methods and routes through which they secure them. It would also begin to result in more foreign humanitarian assistance for the internally displaced people (IPD’s) and perhaps even assistance for post-conflict reconstruction and microeconomic recovery projects for the worst affected people.

Credit: Daily Trust

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