In the buildup to the 2015 general elections, the major issue which dominated national discourses at that time was the Boko Haram issue and its damning and constant attacks on the nation. On the lips of many including those in the corridors of power was “how do we tackle Boko Haram? “.
Coincidentally, as the elections drew nearer, the terrorists sect increased tempo in their attacks as though it was planned. Their attacks preceding the election period led to the capture of so many local governments precisely in the three North-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States. It even reached a stage whereby it threatened the 2015 elections.
It was chief among the reasons which the then President, Goodluck Jonathan offered as his government’s excuse for the infamous postponement of the 2015 elections. Little wonder why the then opposition party, the APC relied on the Boko Haram issue as one of its key campaign reference as to the need why Jonathan has to be kicked out.
After the infamous postponement however, the then administration of Goodluck Jonathan managed to achieve some success by reclaiming the lost territories. Nevertheless, despite the successes recorded by the then Jonathan regime, the Boko Haram issue costed him his reelection bid as widely believed. Also the zone worst hit by the insurgency which is the Northeast massively voted against the candidacy of Jonathan who they felt didn’t do enough or was non-chalant to their plight.
As expected, the Buhari administration immediately after assuming office made tackling Boko Haram one of their key mandate and has also given the Service Chiefs a six month deadline to tackle Boko Haram from May 2015. In the six months period given to them by the Commander in Chief, the Nigerian Army and the other Armed Forces engaged in hostile attacks against the dreaded terrorists sect which has materialised into making the terrorists suffer losses. In an unusual manner in December 2015, the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen T. Y. Buratai declared that they have defeated Boko Haram. He went further to carry their flag and a Quran allegedly belonging to Shekau to the Villa as evidence of their defeat.
However, one thing was missing: the notorious Shekau!
In re-echoing the position of his COAS, President Muhammadu Buhari declared Boko Haram as “technically” defeated too. That was my first time of hearing of a “technical” defeat. Only God knows what they meant by that. Many people have expressed reservations about Buhari’s hurried declaration of victory. Many felt it was premature and was just done to score cheap political points. The reservations expressed by many was however justified in the subsequent days after the declaration when Boko Haram resurfaced and launched attacks on soldiers and communities.
The Boko Haram by their attacks, has told all those who cared to listen that it wasn’t technically defeated or defeated. The notorious leader of the sect, Shekau dished out videos threatening more attacks and in the subsequent days, his boys went on rampage.
Going by available statistics, the soldiers killed from 2015 to date has been unprecedented.
However one needs to give it to the Buhari administration on one thing in its war against insurgency. They have succesfully reduced the hitherto frequent rate of suicide bombings to the most minimum level. They have also confined Boko Haram now to the villages and bushes of Borno and Yobe unlike in the past where they confidently held sway in local governments and even entered Adamawa.
Also, if one is to take note now, the Boko Haram has changed its tactics. They have moved from attacking civilians to now attacking soldiers of a recent. The soldier casualty rate in this year has surpassed the civilian casualty recorded. Even though the military and media has been concealing the killings. Although the Boko Haram war is far from over, the Nigerian Army has tried and has achieved alot but still alot has to be done. The Nigerian Army needs to re-equip its soldiers on the battlefield, motivate them and provide them with all the necessary support needed for us to win this war.
This war is not for the troops on the battlefield alone. This war is for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is a war we have to win for the sake of our unborn generation.
Boko Haram is not defeated nor has it been technically defeated but progress has been made. We can defeat them with the right strategy and the required support.
Mustapha writes from Yola, Adamawa State