The arrest of a former National Security Adviser has also highlighted how corruption has allegedly influenced Nigeria’s response to Boko Haram. Sambo Dasuki has been charged with embezzling military funds earmarked for the fight against Boko Haram at a time when Nigerian soldiers complained about lack of ammunition, fuel and even food while deployed in the field of battle. Dasuki has denied the corruption charges. He remains in custody.
Although the arrest of Dasuki and others demonstrates Buhari’s commitment to fighting alleged corruption, its systemic presence in Nigeria suggests that possible malfeasance within the defense sector is unlikely to be remedied overnight. Transparency International, which monitors corruption round the world, reported in 2014 that Nigeria scored only 27 out of 100 on the corruption perception index. Buhari has made fighting Nigeria’s official corruption a key part of his presidency since he came to power in 2015.
A final consideration is the impact that Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance to Islamic State in March has had on the African group’s longevity. While the Nigerian government denounced the oath of fidelity as being nothing more than superficial propaganda, the fact is we know little about the ISIS model for expansion — and even less about Boko Haram’s inner-workings — to know definitively the implications of the pledge.
What we do know is that Boko Haram has become the largest ISIS affiliate anywhere and has increased its jihadist credentials within an area of sub-Saharan Africa where the prevailing social, political and economic climate is seen as conducive to radicalisation.
The inconvenient truth is that Nigeria has not defeated Boko Haram but simply reversed the gains that the terror group has scored against it. While territory has been recaptured from rebel hands, innocent lives have, and continue, to be taken by it.
No victory can be declared in this war until the day that the Nigerian government can secure both land and human life from Boko Haram’s deadly reach. Despite claims to the contrary, it is a day which will now have to be ushered in with the dawn of a new year.
Ryan Cummings is the chief security analyst for sub-Saharan Africa at red24, a crisis management consultancy, and also a founding member of the Nigeria Security Network, a non-profit think tank.