Let’s Be Clear, They Are Still Here!
The message from terrorist group, Boko Haram over the past couple of days could not have been clearer if they painted it over Aso Rock in white or broadcast it in seven different languages over the radio – We are here, what are you going to do about it?
The egg on face moments being faced by Nigeria’s army chiefs would have been comical sans the loss of lives, which has cumulatively surpassed any reason. The calculated attacks have been nothing short of an intelligence nightmare for the military intelligence who seemingly appear to be in absolute disarray; following the latest attack where two women suicide bombers killed 16 people, including themselves, early Wednesday in Northeast Nigeria at a mosque in the compound of a government workers’ housing estate known as the Buhari Estate, in Damaturu, Yobe State.
This has been termed as arguably the loudest syllable in a strong message currently being sent out by the terrorist group. When the Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman stated on the 3rd of September, 2015 during a press briefing that Boko Haram would be defeated by December, more eye brows were raised than hopes. The reiteration, which came a month after, from the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Tukur Buratai was considered an even stronger statement, which many believed had the backing of intelligence the public was simply not to privy to.
Following, the President’s keenness to distance himself from affirmative statements made in his name and the recent attacks, more questions have been raised than the answers which were expected at the start of the president’s term. Chief among these questions – does the army have any sort of intelligence on the sleeper cells within the state?
Rooting out the terrorist group from large open areas where they confidently occupy seems like the very direct task and in that regard, the army’s victories are testament of the fact that they have the upper-hand in these encounters. The real battle however comes from deciphering attacks before they happen and this rests completely on intelligence. A battle the army is obviously losing and doing so to the detriment of scores of lives.
The attacks have become more focused on areas within the towns and cities – with one directly within the country’s capital city, Abuja. Public outcry has not been muted and questions of how the army intends to tackle this scourge before the foolhardy deadline they have unwittingly set for themselves, are now raised.
The previous boy-band approach, which comprised of blanketed statements, chorused apologies and rehearsed regrets can simply no longer be tolerated in a country desperately determined to see the back of Boko Haram. A sure and result-oriented response will help greatly in restoring a level of confidence in the army, while availing fears that might have gripped residents in the affected areas.
The army’s recent victories on the border towns and Sambisa forest are quietly being forgotten with every salvo dealt by the terrorists and a half-handed response will be piled on the desk of the President by pockets of the opposition who argue that for all his tough talking, the President simply has no answer to the terrorist scourge. An attack on an estate named after him, should only be the slap he was unprepared for and unpreparedness is not a quality, you want your President to have when fighting a war.
The present situation is one that is not alien to a country that has recorded over 5,000 casualties so far to the Boko Haram scourge, whether this is a resurgence of the group or a dying blow, is yet to be seen. All eyes are focused on the December deadline, as a nation holds its breath…in preparation for the next attack.