By Bisi Lawrence
The religious sect known as Boko Haram is at war with Nigeria. It attacks and kills men, women ‘and children indiscriminately for no other reason than that their victims are Nigerians.
It spreads a trail of hollow propaganda in the wake of its horrendous actions against the honour and security of Nigeria as a country. It ridicules our situation as a people expected to be able to ensure our own safety, and disrespects the ability of our government to protect its institutions.
It seems to openly make a mockery of the essence of our existence. It must embarrass quite a number of people in authority; its activities certainly bewilder a host of concerned citizens; the Boko Haram frightens me.
No one seems to be safe above the Niger—at least for now. The fearsome, fearless horde hits at will. The chances of making a score are enhanced by the fact that the loss of the aggressors’ lives is factored into the operation. How then can they lose in a project to which all, everything, has been committed as a basis of the modus operandi? How can you stop a foe that is not just able and willing, but also ready and programmed to die to prove his point?
It would appear that the first step is to fully recognize that the aggression of the Boko Haram must be categorized and accepted as a full-scale war. It has been regrettably confined to the status of an “insurrection” in our estimate for quite some time, but only its spread of operation has been limited to certain area of the country. The nature has all the traits of an out-and-out military onslaught, howbeit of a guerilla conduct. The hit-and-run tactics is expressive of that.
The element of surprise enables the infliction of terror which is further heightened by the suicidal dimension of the scattered but sustained missions.
The guerilla motif also sparkles through the impudence by which the presentation is overlaid.
A rich example is the demand that the President of Nigeria, His Excellency Dr, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, should dump Christianity and become a Muslim. As unlikely an event as that is, it serves as an occasion for the terrorist organization to thumb its nose at the Nigerian posture of an independent nation.
Other flagrant demands have also been made affecting the appointment or removal of security officials and their deployment, and developments seemed to have fortuitously, and uncomfortably, moved close to one or two of the outlandish ultimatums in the past.
That has sometimes left some ponderings about how much influence the Boko Haram could directly exert on official action in some direction, especially when its demand falls on all fours with the express desire of some articulate citizens of appreciably eminent positions.
The much-touted issue of “dialogue” is a case in point. The Boko Haram’s true identity is shrouded in mystery.
It would be impractical, and therefore unproductive, to conduct a conversation, to the intent of resolving a problem, with the echo of pronouncement from an indistinct shadow. The campaign for a dialogue raged for months before the organization finally released its format for such a meeting.
The terms were typically bizarre, and were apparently designed to embarrass some respectable citizens and, of course, discomfit the government. It fell in line with the spirit and tone of the insincerity upon which any communication from the Boko Haram has always been based.
Yet there were still some people who came out openly in support of such a preposterous agenda which was no more than a strip off the monumental psychological aggression that the organization wantonly visits on the country.
Such distractions are mere aspects of the disdain with which an intelligent foe organizes its armament of confrontation, and holds the enemy at bay, while playing for time. But unimpressive as the government’s efforts may be especially with the seeming acceptance of the proposition of dialogue, significant strides have been taken in the recent past towards a resolute stand against the evil activities of the sect. Arrests have been made of several of these miscreants; caches of ammunition have been discovered and destroyed; some important connections have been established and are being investigated; the sect’s foot soldiers have been engaged and bested on a number of occasions. The days of merely giving reassurances of being “on top of the situation”, and having “everything under control” are fast receding into the distant past. The situation is now calling for action, swift and sustained action, thanks to the rampant attitude of the Boko Haram.
In a direct response, On Friday, November 23rd, the Joint Military Task Force made a release on line in which various cash rewards were offered for information leading to the capture of some important officials of the sect.
They included, in particular, members of the “Shurra Committee”, the inner council within which the important decisions of the sect are taken. The announcement indicated that the JTF was closing in on the control centre of the terrorist organization and spoiling for an open engagement. Two days later, a church within the prestigious Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, was bombed in a spectacular manner.
A suicide attack was first launched within the compound, and while spectators had gathered on the scene, a second suicide attack was visited on the crowd. It bespoke a programmed onslaught of sophisticated guerilla warfare and dispels any doubt about the professionalism which underlies the activities of the organization. That was followed by another cheeky engagement when a host of gunmen attacked the office of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Abuja and got their comeuppance.
While all that can be done about suicide attacks is pre-emptive action, direct confrontations seem to be appreciably contained these days with adequate preparations. Of course, more can still be done — still has to be done. The storm of the Boko Haram will not suddenly die down and be swept away.
The problem has to be solved by our own efforts against an unrelenting foe, through our understanding of the predicament that assails our lives. This calls for sincerity of purpose and serious thinking. We have to come to an honest evaluation of the danger to which we are exposed as individuals and as a nation. We must join the Joint Task Force in cooperation against this general emergency
The arch-crime of kidnapping which emanated from the creeks during the Delta crisis has attained the heights of a full-blown union, according to reports. This was announced in the university citadel of Nsukka, where organized crime has come to town.
There are probably other groups of practitioners of the heinous crime, who would want to emulate what from a distance seems a sophisticated rise into a life of felony because kidnapping has become a highly lucrative pastime in some parts of the country, with all our other headaches. And why not? We ourselves allowed it to attain that status.
We failed to evaluate the appeal of the crime and its attractive returns from the start, just as we tended to consider Boko Haram as slightly more dangerous than a child’s play by moonlight at the beginning.
Now that the so-called insurrection problem has grown horns, we are dilly-dallying with the idea of dialogue. It is said in some quarters that poverty, lack of employment and youth neglect fueled the rise of the Boko Haram.
So, one might suggest, it would be held true for kidnappers if the problem is allowed to become too hot to handle. And then those who have a ready solution for every problem would resort to a call for dialogue.