FOREIGN FUNDING FOR BOKO HARAM

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The authorities must do more to get to the root of those fuelling the insurgency

A recent intelligence report which links the possession of sophisticated weapons by Boko Haram insurgents to foreign interests gives cause for concern. And it must not be treated with levity by the authorities. Indeed, the decade-long war by this deadly group actually lends credence to the maxim that there is no smoke without fire. The report has underscored the suspicion that certain foreign powers with vested interests are the unseen forces mobilising the insurgents to sustain the level of havocs and devastation they have been perpetrating in our country.

The Global Terrorism Index confirms what has since been an open secret: Boko Haram is aligned with the vicious Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, described as the world’s deadliest terror group. Following that alignment, a faction of the group known as Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) has been operating without let. In the past one decade, no fewer than tens of thousands of persons have been gruesomely killed by these brutal groups while about 2.3 million others have been displaced. Also, thousands of children have been orphaned and several hitherto comfortable people rendered homeless and turned into refugees in their fatherland.

This is aside the loss of hundreds of the men and women of armed forces and a growing number of foreign and local humanitarian workers who pay the supreme sacrifice as well as the large-scale destruction of the state of education and the economy of the North-east. Besides, the weight of the negative impact of terrorism on Nigeria’s resources is overwhelming, making progress an uphill task. In the past six years, the major chunk of the annual budget has gone into prosecuting the war against the insurgency.

In the 2020 budget, for instance, N100 billion has been earmarked for defence, aside several billions of others that have been invested in the purchase of military equipment in the last four years. Only last year, the federal government took a whopping sum of $1 billion for the purchase of Super Tucano aircraft from the United States to aid the war against terrorism.

It is therefore disturbing that despite the weight of the war against insurgency, there is no reprieve. The question therefore remains: How can the government continue to do the same thing and expect a different result? Despite several claims that Boko Haram has been ‘technically defeated’, terror attacks in the North-east have continued to devastate the region, what with frequent reports of the ambush and gruesome slaughtering of civilians and men and women of armed forces.

The situation assumed a bizarre level recently when the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, almost threw up his hands in surrender when he said some spiritual intervention may be necessary to defeat the insurgency. This was clearly an admission of the lack of capacity by the military to deal with the challenge at hand. The time has therefore come for the federal government to ask critical questions: Which country is supplying weapons to Boko Haram and ISWAP? Which countries are involved in their medical supplies? Who provides their logistics? What are the vested interests of those pushing the acts of terror against Nigeria? What do they stand to gain? In clear terms, who are the sponsors of these terrorists?

It is high time the federal government found answers to all these questions if we are to achieve any appreciable progress in the efforts to rid the country of the Boko Haram insurgency. The authorities must be ready to join issues with countries, individuals and organisations found culpable in this evil act.