The Sagging War against Boko Haram

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Ring True 

By Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 07013940521 (text only)

The murder of Saifura Hussaini Khorsa, a Red Cross aid worker, by Boko Haram early this week is a clear confirmation that the terrorists are alive, kicking and control territories in Nigeria. Saifura was kidnapped by Boko Haram alongside two others about six months ago at the Rann camp for IDPs in Borno State. News of the heinous and despicable murder of the aid worker sent shock waves around the world. However, those that have been honest about the state of the war against Boko Haram would not be shocked by this latest devilish act. This government emboldens the terrorists by persistently paying ransom to them. Those who murdered Saifura have murdered sleep. They will never sleep again. The terrorists have only killed Saifura’s body. Her spirit lives on. She will hunt these coldblooded people to hell.

It is a shame that the war against Boko Haram is sagging while the Buhari administration continues with its sham story of success against the terrorists. For most of last week, the military struggled to push out a “degraded” Boko Haram from Damasak Local Government Area of Borno State. The terrorists had taken over almost the entire local government, forcing residents to flee.They subsequently took the fight to the military formation in Damasak; our gallant soldiers had to battle very hard to push them back. Military authorities confirmed that it was a fierce fight.

I am dismayed that the “degraded” Boko Haram fighters are the ones taking the fight to our soldiers. As at press time, troops of 145 Battalion in Damasak were still working to assert control over the entire town.

The story from Gudumbali town, in Guzamala Local Government Area of Borno State is worse. Boko Haram fighters from the Abu-Mosad Al-Barnawi faction are roaming freely in this town after they attacked it 17 days ago, forcing thousands of residents of Gudumbali fled to flee neighbouring towns. Scores of terrorists in gun trucks with various calibre of arms stormed the town and launched a fierce attack on the military base in Gudumbali, with several soldiers yet to be accounted for. At least eight members of the civilian JTF are believed to have been killed in the Gudumbali attack.

An official of Guzamala Local Government, of which Gudumbali is the headquarters, confirmed to AFP that Nigerian troops had been pushed out of the town and Boko Haram was in full control. A military source also confirmed that troops “were forced to withdraw from Gudumbali”.

Gudumbali is firmly under Boko Haram control. This is the truth that must be told. Abdul Bari, a local in the area, confirmed this, saying, “the insurgents assured that they did not come with intention to kill civilians.”

Bari gave an eye witness account of what happened on the day of the attack thus: “Their target was the military and not civilians. This is what they told us as they asked us to get out of their sight within a blink of an eye. The insurgents were fully kitted with khaki and covered their faces. After one minute, they began shooting from the gun truck facing the military location. There were sounds of sporadic gunshots from many directions. I don’t know what happened but the army was engaging with the terrorists.”

Borno State Deputy Governor, Mamman Durkwa, remarked: “It is unfortunate to confirm to you that there was an attack by Boko Haram extremists on a military base and other communities of Gudumbali.”

The other painful part of the attack in Gudumbali was that thousands of displaced residents who had returned to the town from IDP camps in Maiduguri had to scamper back to the state’s capital. Some of the new shelters constructed for the returnees by the Kashim Shettima administration were also destroyed during the attack.

The military authorities have been evidently economical with the truth concerning Boko Haram attacks on army posts in the last three years. The truth is that the terrorists are very much alive and active, with sophisticated equipment. The attacks pour daily. A military post in Zari, Guzamala Local Government Area of Borno State, was attacked few weeks back. While the army has denied the heavy casualty on its side, unofficial sources in Zari, located close to the border with Niger Republic, revealed that Nigerian soldiers were left exposed and that scores of our gallant soldiers and two officers were killed by the terrorists. Hundreds of Boko Haram fighters in trucks stormed the base and briefly seized it after a fierce battle. When the troops were overwhelmed by the terrorists, they withdrew in different directions.

Just as I stated few weeks back, the soldiers and officers killed in Zari were obviously exposed and did not get reinforcement when they were overwhelmed. This happens persistently to our ill-equipped and ill-motivated heroes. Unfortunately, there is no hope that this will end very soon.

Again, early last month, Boko Haram ambushed a military convoy in Bama, Borno State. In the ensuing fight, scores of soldiers from the 21 Brigade and some Civilian JTF members were killed. Also, on July 14, the terrorists attacked a military base in Jilli village, Geidam, Yobe State, killing dozens of soldiers, with many others injured. Boko Haram simply overwhelmed men of the 81 Division Forward Brigade located in the village. All the lies about having degraded Boko Haram have collapsed like a pack of cards.

Military authorities have been doing everything possible to cover up persistent massacre of our heroes. But it can’t happen in this era of social media. It seems that they have also forgotten that these fallen heroes have families, friends and relations, who will willingly, give information to the press. It is a shame that our heroes are persistently exposed and cheaply killed by these terrorists.

For how long shall we continue to bury our gallant soldiers? For how long shall Boko Haram continue to kill them cheaply? The embarrassing invasion of a military base in Garunda, Mobar Local Government Area of Borno State, by the terrorists remains fresh in our memory. They looted weapons and vehicles from the Garunda military base, killing 17 soldiers while unspecified number of soldiers is yet to be accounted for.

Recently, Senator Ali Ndume representing Borno South, picked up courage to openly express concern over the escalation of Boko Haram attacks on Nigerian troops and residents in the North-east. Chicken Ndume, who had kept quiet, while scores of his people are slaughtered daily by Boko Haram, suddenly woke up and remarked: “I am worried about the sudden resurgence of Boko Haram in the North-east. Some weeks ago, it was alleged that 48 soldiers were killed. On Tuesday, there was another attack in Wala Pulka in Gwoza where it was alleged that many passengers were abducted. There was an attack some time ago in Jilli where many soldiers were killed, another came in Zari. There was another one in Njimtilo and Bama axis. There was an attack on commuters along Maiduguri to Ngala toad. All these attacks occurred in two months… I think there should be some changes so that Boko Haram don’t even think of coming to troops. I am not a military man, but when somebody always comes to your house without any fear, that means you are relapsed or sleeping.”

Our gallant soldiers are evidently dissolution. They are ill-equipped and ill-motivated. Their field allowances are poor and irregular. Many of them have over-stayed on the war front, contrary to the rules of engagement. That was why some soldiers openly protested at the Maiduguri Airport.

The war against Boko Haram is sagging. President Buhari must wake up and face this reality. Under his watch, Boko Haram still controls territories in the North-east and slaughter scores of civilians and soldiers daily.

An additional challenge Nigeria is facing in this war against Boko Haram is that most of those managing the war don’t want it to end. These heartless people are profiting immensely from the blood of our gallant soldiers and that of innocent Nigerians. This is why soldiers on the war front are cruelly denied operation allowances, ill-equipped and ill-motivated. As long as the war is on, there will be more money for these coldblooded war managers. This is the truth that must be told about this war.

I have persistently clamoured for the return of mercenaries. We all saw their impact when they were briefly used by the Jonathan administration. Buhari came and unwisely sacked them. This country must employ the best fighters from anywhere in the world to end this trauma called Boko Haram. The ultimate aim is to genuinely decapitate Boko Haram. These mercenaries will storm the North-east with highly sophisticated war manpower and war machines. Any leader that is genuinely interested in ending the Boko Haram madness must look in this direction. If our President is patriotic enough to take this decision, within few months, Boko Haram will become history.

A Word for Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed

Teachers in public schools in Kwara State have never had it so bad in the history of this state. The last seven years of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed have been horrendous, with huge unpaid salaries and allowances. The traumatised teachers were again on the streets of Ilorin on Monday, protesting over unpaid salaries and pensions, running into several months.

They staged a peaceful rally starting from Ilorin Grammar School (around Gari-Alimi area) to the headquarters of the Nigeria Union of Teachers along Asa Dam. During the protest, pupils who resumed for the new academic session were turned back from the various public schools in the state. 

My dear Governor Abdulfatah, you have to take urgent steps to ameliorate the suffering of public school teachers in Kwara State. You have evidently been traumatising these hapless teachers. I sincerely hope that you will change your ways during the few months left of your tenure. You can’t be talking about grabbing a senatorial ticket when thousands of civil servants in your state are gasping for breath.

The Nigeria Air Scam

News that the federal government had suspended the implementation of the national carrier project, Nigeria Air, did not come as a surprise to me. The government simply confirmed my earlier reports that the project was fake. Nigerians Air is one of the most expensive propaganda projects of the Buhari government. It was an obvious scam and they went about spending huge undisclosed forex.

Many will not forget in a hurry how the junior minister in charge of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, went to London with scores of aides and civil servants to launch the imaginary airline with pomp. Huge amount of money went down the drain during this launch in an era of change.

Sirika wants the federal government to commit $308.8 million to the ludicrous project. Where will the money come from, with the federal government borrowing so much to fund its budget? Where will the foreign investors come from after the failed Virgin Nigeria experience?

Nigeria Air was just on paper. It was a hype to score cheap political point. No single foreign investor made any commitment to Air Nigeria during the London show of shame by Sirika. No foreign investor participated at the fraudulent launch in London. It is preposterous that this government allowed Sirika to waste huge tax payers’ money on preambles before calling him to order.