DO WE REALLY WANT TO WIN THE WAR AGAINST BOKO HARAM?

This Country of ours is very intriguing. And many times I get thoroughly confounded by our double speak. It is becoming clearer to me why things which are simple and straight forward, or should be so end up becoming complex and convoluted in our Nation. Somehow,every issue or matter has to be viewed from narrow ethnic, religious or political prisms and then emerges in different colours. So,some thing which ordinarily looks white may end up being described as grey or colourless,not because of any physiological or pathological malfunctioning of the eyes of the viewers but largely because of their ethnic or political bias.


When the Boko Haram group came unto national consciousness with their weekly raiding of worship centres in the North East of Nigeria, some people said nothing, they did not condemn their activities,because the trouble did not affect their own worship centres and those killed came from a different region of the Country. They bombed the UN Plaza and Police HQ in Abuja and no word came from them. They bombed the Church in Madala on Christmas day and they said nothing. And then they bombed Kano and killed many people including Christians and Muslims and then they began to speak. Now their own have been touched and it is time to condemn Boko Haram. Haba! Why did they keep quiet all this while ?


For a long time, this writer and many other well meaning Nigerians called for stiffer action against these criminals and vandals who shed innocent blood without a qualm. Many of us felt that the government was treating the terrorists with kid gloves. Then the government responded by declaring state of Emergency in three North eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. This same group of Elders stood against it and complained and criticised and tried all they could to stop it. Then they suggested dialogue and amnesty,and when the government listened and tried to set up a committee to try that option, this group of elders led by Prof Ango Abdullahi began to criticise and could not give any helping hand to bring the leaders of the boko haram to the table. And yet some of them were named by Boko haram as acceptable contact persons. Eventually the dialogue option collapsed despite all the effort by the federal government.


Subsequently,following from the intensified action of the security forces, the terrorist group was contained in the Far Northern fringes of the troubled zone. What did we get from these elders? Rather than commend the work of the military, Ango Abdullahi and his group now threatened to take the former chief of Army staff to the international court of Justice. For doing what?, one may ask .This was like a ploy to demoralise the Army leadership and discourage them from continuing the offensive against the terrorists. But thank God, the Military was not demoralised. Because rather than flinch, Air Marshall Alex BADEH, the new chief of Defence staff came blazing,informing a grateful Nation that they would rout these criminals by the end of April this year. As typical,the elders failed to applaud or even encourage the military while many patriots were elated at the prospect of seeing this war come to an end.


In the last week, with incessant killing of hapless citizens of Nigeria in the villages of Borno state, there has been a cacophony of voices which are sufficient to confuse issues and demoralise, not only the Security forces but most Patriots. Some of these elders who do not want the military to operate or who wish to constrain their operational abilities have joined in blaming the military for not doing enough. The choir master this time was Governor Shettima of Borno state who did not only assert that the Boko haram insurgents were better equipped than our military forces,in addition to being better motivated but concluded that we could never win the war! What an assertion!


My question then is, what are we to do? Surrender and withdraw our military forces so that Bokoharam and their sponsors and allies will overrun the Nation and establish their kind of government. Some people say governor Shettima spoke the truth.I ask truth to who? To Boko haram? What more do they need to be motivated than for a State governor who is the chief security officer of the state to declare in the open that we can not win the war against them. If he must tell the truth, then he should have told it to the President whom he had just gone to see. If he could not realise the security implication of that statement in the open, then his maturity as a state governor is called to question.Others say he spoke out of desperation and frustration. But I find no evidence that he did not mean what he said. His response to the federal Government's effort to balance his statement, was patently disappointing. He chose to attack the President's aide who in my opinion was only trying to refute his damaging assertion that our military was inferior to the band of murderers who have only been successful in causing much mayhem because they have enjoyed overt and covert support of some powerful Nigerians including some of the elders.


This is why iam posing the question: do we really want to win the war against Boko haram?.It looks to me that some well connected people, many with heavy political weights and ready access to the media do not want this war to be won or even to end. They seem to see it as a political weapon to fight the federal government by projecting it as weak and incapable of protecting Nigerians. So whenever the government decides to take any action that will improve the chances of ending the war, they will rise up in arms and accuse the government of waging war against its citizens and when ever the terrorists seem to have the upper hand like last week, they rise to shout that the government and it's military are weak and incapable of defeating Bokoharam. I have no problem with people playing politics and fighting the President or his government in their struggle for power,as this seems to be part of the Political game but doing so with the lives of innocent and defenceless Nigerians is most distasteful.


It is a pity that in this Country, we can not stand up as a Nation and look at issues on their merit without ethnic, and political considerations. But on this war being waged by Boko Haram, we must stand together. All Nigerians, especially the political leaders, the traditional leaders, the military and security leaders, the business leaders, the civil society, particularly the media must stand up as one and condemn in unequivocal terms the war which some deranged people and their equally deranged financiers and supporters are waging against our Country without any acceptable justification. Thank God, that General MUHAMMED Buhari who all along seemed nonchallant or so to the activities of the sect has finally this week,for the first time,to my knowledge,since Boko haram assumed centre stage after the 2011 elections, issued a statement condemning their activities. This is most welcome and represents the approach, Iam campaigning for. I pray that other elders who have been making statements to show that they are unconcerned or making statements that could be construed to be supportive of the miscreants should emulate this fairly belated but better-than- never action of General Buhari.


Secondly, we must also genuinely support government's effort at bringing this malady to a speedy end. I believe that there is so much that our Northern Governors can do if they decide to support the federal government to bring this matter to a close.It is not enough to issue empty statements or unforceable declarations. Even if Boko haram is supported by any other external organ, the combined muscle of the 18 Northern governors can go a long way to halting this dastardly insurgency. I will like to appeal to the Arewa Consultative Forum, The Arewa Elders Council and all the groups who are stakeholders in this conflict( willy or nilly) to bury all their political hatchets and rally round the government efforts. Boko haram can not defeat us if we are united in words and action. Our division( real or apparent)helps to motivate the marauders.


Thirdly and lastly, the security forces must be given all the logistic support needed to rout these bands of murderers and when such resources are provided, they must be prudently applied to the project in hand exclusively. I trust that what Air Marshall Alex BADEH said that the military will do, they will do. That is to bring this insurgency to an end by the end of April. I really want us to win this war and I am asking all lovers of humanity and indeed all Nigerians( Patriots or not) to agree with me.


Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR




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