The authorities need to do more to win the war

The murder last week of a Christian cleric, Rev. Lawan Andimi, by Boko Haram militants is whipping up public outrage and raising serious questions about the counter-insurgency operations. Andimi, chairman of a local chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), was abducted on 3rd January during the attack on Michika local government area in Adamawa State. Three days later, a young man named Ropvil Daciya Dalep, student of University of Maiduguri earlier abducted by the Islamic State West Africa Province, (ISWAP), was executed by a hooded child in a chilling video, the same group that killed 11 Christians on last Christmas day. President Muhammadu Buhari called Andimi’s murder “cruel, inhuman and deliberately provocative.”

Indeed, these latest killings have further sowed mistrust and suspicion at all levels, prompting the CAN leadership to declare three days of fasting and prayers for the country in all churches. Rev. Felix Omobude, National President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), said, “We are shocked that the activities of Boko Haram have, of late, been on the upward swing, in spite of the claims by the federal government that the group has been technically defeated.” Similarly, the Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC) has called on the government to intensify efforts and “ensure that our shared future is more positive than our current state.”

The worsening state of security was acknowledged last week by the European Parliament which expressed concern that progress had been stalled in the decade-long fight against Boko Haram and its mutant, ISWAP. Many of the roads in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, even though ringed with military checkpoints, are infiltrated by insurgents who kill, maim and abduct at will. On 5th January, the militants with reputation for brutality, blew up Gamboru Ngala bridge in Borno State and killed about 30 people. A few days later, some 17 soldiers were reportedly killed on the Bama-Gwoza highway in two separate confrontations between insurgents and troops. And only last week Wednesday, a terrorist group, Ansaru, attacked the convoy of Emir of Potiskum, Yobe State, Umaru Bubaram, on Kaduna –Zaria road and killed six people.

However, despite their inability to rise to the occasion by containing the violence and mute the growing public disaffection, the army headquarters claimed “tremendous successes across the various theatres of operation.” The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen. Tukur Buratai indeed trumpeted “recent decimation of many Boko Haram/ISWAP criminals” and likened their recent “moribund” activities to the kicks of a dying horse. And in apparent response to the EU parliament, the Defence Headquarters said the military had been innovative in handling the security challenges in the country “in the face of conspiracies to deny Nigeria requisite military ware that will enhance the fight against terrorism and insurgency.”
We have consistently in this space commended the men and officers of the armed forces for their gallantry and sense of duty, many of whom had made the ultimate sacrifices. But for the military to insist that all is well in the face of the daily carnage in the North east and elsewhere borders on self-deceit. Why are the armed forces asking for and purchasing superior weapons if what they are getting from the battle field are “kicks of a dying horse?” Why should this insurgency last 10 years plus? Even though asymmetrical, why is our military which ended the civil war in two and half years, ended wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone, stranded by a ragtag collective of untrained sectarian zealots?

Given what has transpired in recent years in prosecuting the war against Boko Haram and affiliates, something is definitely wrong with our military in terms of doctrine, training, morale and strategic orientation. The earlier they are addressed the better for everyone and the security of the homeland.

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