Boko Haram: The Forces Against Nigeria
IN his Democracy Day message, President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the military to spare nothing in wiping out terrorism that is now rocking the foundation of the country.
He had made such orders many times in the past. However, the more his directives, the more Boko Haram sect wreaked havoc on Nigerians.
Certainly, Nigeria is not yet winning the war against terror although there seems to be hope going by the promises of USA, Britain, France and some other countries to assist Nigeria in this battle the President has admitted is alien to us.
A combination of factors can be attributed to the seeming inability of the military to defeat Boko Haram as the President continuously orders. The military say they are poorly funded and that they hardly receive what is appropriated to them in annual budgets. Government says, globally, no amount of money will ever be enough for the military in times of war as the situation in Nigeria now depicts, maintaining that it is doing its best in terms of funding to ensure the battle against terror is won.
Poor funding could be a strong factor but what have the military been doing with the “little” that they have been receiving, especially with intelligence aspect of the military? Once, they announced that they planned to comb Sambisa, the den of Boko Haram. Last week, they said that they were closing in on the abducted girls of Government Secondary School, Chibok, now under captivity for more than six weeks. And only four days ago they said that they had sighted the girls.
How reasonable or strategic is it for the military to be exposing their plans or strategy? Is it not part of intelligence to keep your plans to yourself and take the enemy unawares? Could this be why the US say they would not share intelligence with the Nigerian forces?
And so the fight against Boko Haram has certainly taken much longer than the Nigerian public and the international community had anticipated. Rather than defeating the sect, the military appears to have been waging a war for which it was not fully prepared or has suffered various impediments.
Boko Haram, translated literally as “Western Education is Sin,” started as a group that is against Christianity and Western civilisation and has metamorphosed into a nightmare for Nigerians. Its original name is Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, which in Arabic means “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”, some writers translate it simply as “Association of Sunnis for the Propagation of Islam and for Holy War”.
The public is asking: “Nigerian soldiers have won laurels at peace keeping missions across the world and even drove rogue coupists from thrones in Liberia and Sierra Leone where they installed civilian administrations and recently chased away extremists who were trying to overrun the Northern African country of Mali. So what is happening at home? Why can’t the military end Boko haram’s reign of terror more than five years after?
Certainly, the Nigerian military needs help. And it will be unfair to lay all the blame on them. They have their story. Government has its story. And the people also have an idea of what the problems are, from politics of the sect to poor funding of the military to corruption and even the insincerity of politicians who politicise the problem. We serve you our findings below.
Politics of Boko Haram
Boko Haram has a very strong footing in religious politics, if the claims and counter-claims of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, and its main opposition, All Progressives Party, APC are anything to go by.
From the early days of the sect, it was alleged to be an off-shoot of former governor Ali Modu Sheriff’s political thugs “ECOMOG” which he used against his opponents and which helped him to win a second term in 2007 in Borno State.
It was alleged that Sheriff promised the group that he would transform Borno into a Sharia state if he won again, a promise he was said to have failed to keep, necessitating his Commissioner for Religious Affairs, and front-line member of Boko Haram… to resign from the cabinet. The said commissioner was killed in the first onslaught against the sect in 2009.
Sheriff’s camp denied the allegations and insisted that the crackdown on the sect during his second term was an indication that he had nothing to do with the extremists.
Many people in Borno State allege that Boko Haram has continued its deadly attacks owing to the backing they receive from either the camp of current Governor Ibrahim Shettima or his predecessor in government.
Kabiru Sokoto, who has been given life sentence for his role in the 2012 Christmas day bombing of St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madala, near Abuja was arrested by security forces in the Borno Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja.
The political angle has been elevated to the national level. President Jonathan said last Sunday that Boko Haram was meant to stop his government. It was not the first time that the PDP and its leaders were making such allegations.
When the Chibok girls were abducted on April 14, APC’s reaction was that President Jonathan should resign for failing in a primary duty of securing the lives of Nigerians. It was not APC’s first time of expressing that position.
The “PDP Youth Frontier’, immediately took on the APC and asked it to desist from calling for the resignation of President Jonathan. Rather, it argued that Governor Ibrahim Shettima of Borno State, who ignored WAEC’s warning not to open the school, should be the one to resign.
“APC should stop shedding crocodile tears. It is no longer news that many innocent souls have gone, businesses folded and students kidnapped by the enemies of Nigeria called Boko Haram. Their spate of killing goes beyond religion.
“ It is, however, curious that last three weeks after Boko Haram abducted SS3 students of Borno State Government Secondary school ready for WAEC, Borno State Government has been unable to tell Nigerians and the whole world, the exact number of students that were abducted. All we keep hearing is that students from 200 and above were abducted”.
A statement by its National Coordinator, Usman Austin Okhai stated that despite several questions surrounding this abduction, the nation would like to know how such a number of students were conveyed from the schools and how many people witnessed the abduction. “Were they loaded inside buses or trucks, or were they made to trek from school to the forest? Who did the principal contact before she voluntarily released the students? How come neither the vice principal nor other teachers even witnessed this act or followed the abducted students? These unanswered questions give rise to suspicion as to whether this abduction was orchestrated by the enemy of the Federal Government or Boko Haram working with some elements that want the Federal Government to fail at all cost.”
Inadequate budgetary allocation
Gov. Shettima has said several times that the Nigerian security forces were ill-equipped to win the war against Boko Haram. He first told State House Correspondents at the Villa after a meeting with President Jonathan. The Federal Government reacted angrily with several aides of the president accusing him of trying to destroy the morale of the Nigerian troops. But he repeated the position several times, thereafter. He said Boko Haram fighters were better equipped and better motivated.
About two weeks, ago, the authorities of the Nigerian Army raised the alarm over the negative impact of inadequate funding for military operations currently going on in the North East and other parts of the country, noting that the development needed to be addressed urgently.
Chief of Accounts and Budget, Army, Major General Abdullah Muraina cried out at the training week for Warrant Officers and Senior NCO’s in Kaduna.
His words: “Currently, budgetary allocations for the military are inadequate to meet the contemporary security challenges and also cater for the welfare of the Nigeria Army. This calls for a review as the increasing effects of conflict in the operational environment will continue to challenge military Commanders”.
Consequently, Muraina said: “It is our humble appeal that government should evolve other means of funding and supporting military operations other than the normal budgetary allocation. Such means include but not limited to strategic cooperation and liaison with other civil industries for the production of uniforms and other equipment. A special operation fund could be included in defence budget and placed under the control of the Chief of Army Staff for immediate disbursement to the required operation areas”.
Explaining the magnitude of the problem, the CAB continued: “This year, N4.8billion was allocated for Capital projects for the Nigerian Army. Of this amount, if, because of the security challenges, the army decides to buy ballistic helmets and fragmented jackets (2 items) for 20, 000 soldiers, at a cost of $1500, it will amount to about N3billion. Meanwhile, about nine items are needed for the soldiers”.
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