Like other belligerent groups before it, the end of Boko Haram insurgency is certain. Nigerians look forward with enthusiasm their impending doom’s day. Between technical, marginal or complete defeat of the sect, the promise made by the All Progressive Congress (APC) to end the insurgency served as a desert to winning the 2015 presidential elections. That magnanimous declaration earned the ruling party, a considerable level of goodwill especially in the north where the havoc wrecked by this sect was evidently heart-rending and unbearable. To this end, the Presidential mandate to the military to crush Boko Haram less than three months to the end of 2015 and possibly come home with Shekau’s head on a platter was cheering news. How the president intended to achieve such a military exploit within that shortest possible time against a formidable force squaring it up with the military and other security agencies for almost seven years remained unknown. Despite this presidential directive which received national acclaim, the group has instead evolved new outlandish tactics, become more daring and ferocious in their attacks. Between 27 and 28, December, the vampires ambushed Madagali and Adawari villages using two female suicide bombers leaving in the wake of the dastardly act more than 50 dead people. These audacious attacks show that more need to be done to finally incapacitate the sect.
Nigeria hopes to enjoy a new lease of life with the end of this insurgency. However, the unprecedented attacks launched against the nation even within the framework of military interventions have foreclosed the realisation of the presidential mandate to crush the insurgency within that deadline. In fact, no one was left in doubt that with the necessary support, the military is equal to the task of rooting out the insurgents and snatch away victory for Nigeria. But government’s complacency coupled with the asymmetric approach of the sect in its campaign poses a major challenge to winning the war. The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed believed the military will triumph within the deadline. He visited the troops in Maiduguri and undertook on the spot assessment of situations and extent of damages done. Back to Abuja, he tried frantically without success to convince Nigerians that the war has been fairly and squarely won. The minister has developed and added trending lexicons to national discourse on Boko Haram insurgency ranging from “technical and marginal” defeat of the sect which to him explains their debilitating state at the moment.
The approach to combating Boko Haram must change before we expect a novel result. The seeming mismanagement of the fight against the insurgency by the previous administrations and issues related thereof stoutly castigated by Lai Mohammed have found their places in this present government. Government’s penchant for feeding the public with half-truth is here again. The semantics engaged by the minister to explain away the status of Boko Haram as weak and frustrated is befuddling. In fact, how could an enemy of the state launch a vicious attack on the nation few days after being defeated? As the spokesman of the then opposition party, APC, Lai Mohammed could afford to manipulate public emotions and deliberately employ all sorts of propagandist mechanism at his disposal to discredit government at that time. Presently, the minister’s role as the mirror of government demands greater clarity, facts, truth and integrity on issues of national discourse especially on Boko Haram. Resorting to propaganda as a tool for government’s information management will do more harm than good in this era of change.
The quantum of damage done to our national consciousness by Boko Haram is ineffable. The raging fire ignited by these barbarians is already blazing and has assumed a national and international crisis-dimension. The savagery of this group can be measure in material and human capital destroyed. The problems created are inherent in the numbers of Internally Displaced Persons around the country, economic down-turn of affected states and staggering evidence of desolation in villages and hamlets.
The best intentions of the past, present administration and the concerted efforts of citizens to end this misfortune seem to have come to naught. Today, the earnest prayer and sincere wishes of both government and every patriotic Nigerian is to bring to its knees the vicious pass-times of this cruel and manic group. Government needs to constructively engage the citizens with sincere enlightenment; information and education on the successes recorded and not grammatically confuse Nigerians. Winning the war on insurgency cannot be achieved using only the mass media as a weapon for prosecuting and winning the war, apportioning every blame on the past administration or outright deployment of deliberate falsehood. The reality of the defeat of Boko Haram will dawn on all of us like a brand new day. The news of the conquest is potent enough to resonate across the length and breadth of Nigeria on its own. Nigerians will definitely know without being told.
There is no hard and fast rule to dealing with any belligerency or social disorders in the world. The efficacy of deliberate measures aimed at curbing them lie the point. The funding of Boko Haram insurgency and sponsors should be properly scrutinised. The logistics, arms and ammunitions deployed against the state are not picked from the streets of Borno, Yobe or Adamawa States. They were bought locally, imported legally or illegally and fully paid for. Thorough identification of the sponsors of this group, arrest and blockage of flow of sources of their income is paramount. When starved of fund, it will demoralise the sect and plunge their camp into confusion. That the society is in serious dilemma or terrible condition is to the benefit of some people. The environment where this evil is perpetrated must be ready to confront, expose and renounce this endemic group. We must all be ready to unite against Boko Haram and volunteer useful information to the authorities to perform better. Military effort alone has minimal effect if the people fail to cooperate and provide useful information. It is in our best interest and our duty as well to support the government in every way possible to defeat Boko Haram. But government should be forthright with information. Citizens’ right to know should respected. It is the dawn of another brand new year. Nigerians are optimistic that 2016 will usher in greater hopes, rewards and opportunities. In addition to that, Boko Haram will not only be defeated technically and marginally but entirely and completely.
Eze, a Media and Communications Specialist wrote via [email protected]