State Of The Nation: Army High Command And Ten Years Of Boko Haram Gaming

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The narrative is common knowledge that ten years ago, in July 2009 precisely, Nigeria’s security forces swooped in on what was then a relatively little-known Islamic group in the northeast of the country. At the time, that group’s focus was preaching, although it believed al-Qaeda’s path would bring Nigerian Muslims out of their abyss by living a Taliban lifestyle. The joint security clampdown led to the death of scores of its members, including the leader and cleric, Muhammed Yusuf. As a result, the man who succeeded him, Abubakar Shekau, vowed to revenge the killing of their leader and members and a merciless bloody campaign ensued.

As said by an analyst, Matthew Page, Associate Fellow with the London-based international affairs group Chatham House, in his comment: “Boko Haram is a very decentralized group, which contrasts with other jihadist groups that are tightly organized. Boko Haram doesn’t have much in the way of coherent strategy and focus, yet they have defied the odds and survived.”

At times, the government’s sincerity in addressing the menace of the group looks suspicious and this has been responsible for the allegations whether right or wrong that some politicians and top military officers may clandestinely be fuelling the activities of the group for pecuniary reasons.

 It is on record that the Nigerian military personnel at the forefront in the fight against this extremist group are deliberately neglected to weaken or rather demoralize them. All these support the allegations of complicity and the Nigerian Army High Command is not telling us everything there is to this now cancerous Boko Haram menace in the northern parts of the country.

Whether anybody wants to hear this or not, the recent spate of violence visited on Nigerians in the Northwest cannot be denied of being a metamorph of the Boko Haram menace in the Northeast. Call them “bandits” or “cattle rustlers” from hell, we know they are a detachment of the same people operating in the northeast but probably dislodged by the military campaign of the “Operation Lafia Dole”.

Several observers both foreign and locals have alleged that certain Nigerian officials are profiting from the unrest via corruption and have little interest in ending the bloodshed. Do we need an outsider to tell us that the Nigerian government/Army has been ineffective in combating Boko Haram, largely as a result of insincerity and corruption? Thus, despite serial claims that the armed group has been “technically defeated” the Nigerian Army still struggles to contain the violence.

Today, a decade since it was almost wiped out, Boko Haram has an estimated 6,000 fighters broken into two factions. The larger and more sophisticated group claimed to be affiliated with the so-called Islamic State and known as the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP). The smaller and cruder faction is led by the notorious Abubakar Shekau and is called Jama’at Ahl al-Sunnah li-l-Dawah wa-l-Jihad (JAS).

Whether our military is winning the fight against these insurgents or not is even a lesser issue in this entire Boko Haram conspiracy. The main cause of concern to every genuine patriotic Nigerian should actually be the ongoing Nigerian government/Army policy of not only de-radicalizing and rehabilitating the so-called repentant terrorists but automatically re-engaging them into the Nigerian military. There is a big problem there!

The commentary on “Roots Tv” that was widely shared on the Youtube and across several other social media platforms cannot but jolt any concerned Nigerian into thinking deep on the way our political leaders including the leadership of the Nigerian Army have handled this Boko Haram issue making the insurgents now look as if they have become “omnipotent and omnipresent.”

Agreeing with the worries expressed by the “Roots Tv” commentator, it is very crucial we do a recap here: As said in the broadcast, “What Nigerian army is doing is simply recycling insurgency. It is easier for you to rehabilitate somebody who is mentally derailed either as a result of drug abuse or from any other factor. It is easier to rehabilitate and redefine his mindset and make him a better person and re-engage him into society.

“A terrorist is an extremist; he is doing all his doing not based on how much you are giving him or whatever he is going to gain. He is an extremist that can sacrifice even his life and still thinks what he is doing is to the glory of God almighty.”

Now let’s look at it from where we are coming from as a nation of people: Once upon a time we had Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) and these people terrorized the South-West and the government dislodged them because of the excesses in their activities. They were never seen as potentials to be re-engaged into the Nigerian Army.

We had Bakassi Boys in the South East, they were also pushed away by the Nigerian security and their activities banned. They were never seen as potentials to be re-engaged into the Nigerian military.

We also had the Niger Delta militants under different franchises- MEND, Avengers and the rest of them. Though they were given amnesty by the federal government these young men who displayed the potentiality to dislodge the Nigerian military joint taskforce and confronted them headlong in so many instances were never seen as potentials to be re-engaged into the Nigerian military.

MEND never killed a single innocent person, never threw bombs in markets, churches/mosques, bus stops, etc. They made their grouse clearly known at the onset that they were protesting the marginalization of the region that produces the oil wealth that has been carrying the entire nation for decades. Yet, two of their leaders are currently serving a life sentence in prison.

The recent one is IPOB whose members were dislodged and even proscribed by the Nigerian government and most of them are still in detention. This group of persons has never been seen as potentials that will be rehabilitated and engaged in the Nigerian military.

“Now, here we have confirmed terrorists and unrepentant mass murderers; people who have seen the Nigerian military to be their number one enemies; people who have come out headlong to confront Nigerian army killing them and other innocent people, they will just go and say they have surrendered and the next thing Nigerian Army and the government aside the billions of dollars being spent on security because of this Boko Haram will go and again pay more money rehabilitating them and the worst of it engage them into the Nigerian military.

This is the real danger: In the next 10-20 years we will have thousands of Boko Haram terrorists in our Nigerian military and what else does this mean if not “recycling insurgency.” So what the Military High Command is encouraging is that if you want to join the Nigerian military, simply go and join Boko Haram first, after one or two months surrender yourself and the Nigerian military will carry you to do what they call rehabilitation after which engage you straightaway, that’s what it means.

Meanwhile, this country has more than enough vibrant and able youths who want to join the Nigerian army but the opportunity is not given to them but here are terrorists being given automatic tickets to join the Nigerian Army.

What is so important that it will make these terrorist officers of the Nigerian military? There is the danger that lies ahead and let Nigerians including the docile leaders of the various ethnic groups see this and wake up and speak up now that there’s time.

Is this not multiplying insecurity and terrorism in the land? This is dangerous for this nation and except all Nigerians in unison speak up against this ugly trend now, when the problem will start manifesting, what we are seeing in the North East will be a child’s play. God Bless Nigeria!

(IFEANYI IZEZE: iizeze@yahoo.com; 234-8033043009)

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