Nigeria’s president vowed that Boko Haram would be beaten by the end of 2015 but the terror group has continued to mount attacks, despite the efforts that has been made by the Nigerian military. Critics say corruption and lack of coordination are among the factors which have helped Boko Haram flourish, Ryan Cummings, writes this piece, culled from cnn. Africa news
“And I assure you that we will defeat Boko Haram by the end of this year (2015).” This was the pledge made by the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari to his Beninese counterpart, Boni Yayi, during a gala dinner commemorating Benin’s independence during the summer of 2015.
It was a promise that the Nigerian head of state would also reiterate to fellow Nigerians, who eagerly waited for him to make good on his promise and act with the decisiveness that Buhari had accused his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, of lacking. Yet as 2015 drew to a close, the specter of Boko Haram loomed as large as ever over Africa’s most populous state.
Indeed, less than 48 hours after the Buhari regime announced that it had fulfilled its vow of defeating the group, at least 50 people were killed in a wave of violence in Nigeria’s insurgent-embattled Borno and Adamawa states. Those skeptical of Boko Haram’s defeat were vindicated; those residing within the terrorists’ deadly reach continue to live in fear.
Nigeria’s information minister, however, downplayed the December 27 attacks and further reaffirmed that Boko Haram was on the precipice of being “wiped out.” Lai Mohammed claimed to local media that all insurgent-held territory had been reclaimed and that Boko Haram no longer possessed the operational capabilities to achieve its raison d’etre, the creation of a “dawlah” — or Islamic-state — in north-eastern Nigeria.
The problem with Mohammed’s “impending demise” narrative is that it equated loss of territory with defeat. Prior to Boko Haram’s capture in July 2014 of Damboa, the first Nigerian town to fall to the extremist sect, its near decade-long insurgency had been characterised by traditional guerilla warfare. The group’s favoured modus operandi had been suicide bombings and hit-and-run raids, not the capture and control of territory.
The acts of violence which the Nigerian government has derided as indicative of Boko Haram’s weaknesses are actually the very mechanisms which have made it one of the — if not the — deadliest terrorist organisation in the world.
Apart from being face-saving exercises, accounts of Boko Haram’s imminent destruction may also be an attempt by the Buhari regime to misdirect attention from the myriad issues which have — and continue to — hamper its counter-insurgency strategy.
The foremost of these is the failure of Nigeria and her Lake Chad neighbors to formulate a regionally coordinated response to the insurgency. Although it originated as a grassroots Nigerian organisation, Boko Haram’s ambitions and operations have become transnational as it increasingly exported its insurgency across the border to Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
While these countries agreed to form a joint anti-Boko Haram task force in 2014, rumors of strained diplomatic tensions, disagreements over the direction of operations and a lack of financing have all seen the unit miss several deployment deadlines.
Despite an intensification in anti-terrorism initiatives by the Nigerian military, the failure by neighboring countries to respond in kind has afforded Boko Haram space in which to regroup, recruit and re-energise its armed uprising against the Nigerian state.
Alleged maladministration within the Nigerian military is another issue diluting the efficacy of the country’s counter-terrorism response. In June 2015, Amnesty International released a damning report detailing alleged war crimes committed by the Nigerian military in its counter-insurgency initiatives. These included arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture and the extrajudicial killings of thousands of Boko Haram suspects, according to the Amnesty report.
Although both the Nigerian presidency and military leadership promised to investigate these claims, it remains unclear as to whether any steps have been made toward the inquiry.
If the clams are true, then such actions may see the army not only lose the hearts and minds of local communities, which are essential to any successful counter-insurgency cooperation, but also aid Boko Haram in its radicalisation and recruitment process.


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