By Sunny Ikhioya
WITH the way the Boko Haram ins urgency is playing out, it is apt to ask the question once again: How prepared are we for this battle? It is not a matter of mouthing it, we must let our actions speak.
It is shocking to read the story, online, about the wives of soldiers in the Enugu division of the Nigerian Army, complaining/protesting the posting of their husbands to Boko Haram affected states. If our soldiers, through the actions of their spouses, are dreading postings to Borno and neighbouring states, how confident will they be when confronting the insurgents.
In any battle fear is the greatest enemy. In fact, if you are afraid of going into a battle, the battle is half lost.
Does this explain the ease with which the insurgents go in and come out of these areas despite the state of emergencies and imposed curfews? If this is so, then it is not too late to do a re-assessment of our strategies, and urgently effect corrections where necessary.
First, we must go back to the basics, down to the training and orientation s for our troops. To what extent have they been trained, both in the combat and military psychology? I do not mean officers alone, I am referring to the rank and file, anyone that is in a position to do battle and offer support service to troops in the war zones. Do we just put them together, based on their past training as soldiers, and send them to the front lines, or, we carry out fresh training? Training is not exhaustive, it must be regular and constant. For each batch that is to go to war, there must be fresh comprehensive trainings, including the psychology of the conflict.
So, the training and indoctrination departments of all of our armed forces have a lot of work to do in designing programmes that will take care of such challenges. If they already have it in place, then it must be upgraded to suit present day realities. Today’s military challenges call for new strategies and we must quicken our pace to cope in these areas.
Having highlighted the above, the success or failure of the Boko Haram challenges and its type will depend on two major factors: Technology and Intelligence. How we put these two to use will determine the future stability of the nation.
For example, how can a convoy of 30 hilux vehicles attack a military base in Borno and neighbouring towns, carry out dastardly actions and retreat successfully to their base in the forest without detection or counter measures? More surprising is the fact that the area is under emergency rule and so, subject to curfew.
The military response against the invaders of Timbuktu and other towns in the North of Mali was swift and brief because of the use of superior technology by the French army.
The satellite cameras were detecting the movements of the rebels and picking their positions which enabled the air force and ground troops to know the positions of the enemy and helped checkmate their moves. In fact, the invaders were overwhelmed by the French army and allied troops; despite their bravery and fierce opposition, they could not match the superior force.
That is the impact technology can create. If we do not have the instruments to detect positions of the insurgents via satellite, it is time for us to swallow our pride and reach out to Israel, France, Britain or the US to assist us. Without an effective satellite communication system, our plan to flush out the Boko Haram will remain a pipe dream.
Our team must now begin to evolve strategies, to make the people open up to them for information. All possible channels must be explored: faith based organisations, community leaders, youth groups, farmers and cattle rearers associations, all types, must be factored in.
The Boko Haram scourge is wiping out a whole generation of Northern youths; it is, therefore, of no benefit to any true citizen of this country. Anyone talking in support or trying to find justification for their actions, for any reason whatsoever, is only helping to destroy his country. There is no justification for the killings of innocent children and women, defenceless men and women, Muslims, Christians and so forth. It is plain madness and the government must give them the madness treatment.
Now the bombings are getting closer, the Nyanya bombing is a pointer to the fact that we must all take our destiny in our own hands. Everyone must be placed on permanent alert and be on constant surveillance all over the country. Let everyone of our information agencies carry out sensitization campaigns to all nooks and crannies of this country, harping on the dangers of complacency in the issue of Boko Haram. The country is in a state of war and everyone must wake up. If the Boko Haram insurgency is allowed to fester, the future of this country will remain a question mark. Have we forgotten Afghanistan and Somalia? Picture a Nigerian Afghanistan and think. It is other peoples turn to weep now, tomorrow can be anybody else if we do not act now.
There have been a deluge of criticisms on the decision of the President Goodluck Jonathan to embark on the Kano campaign a day after the Nyanya bombing. At first, I was also outraged but on second thought, I felt otherwise.
In Israel after any suicide bombing,anywhere in the state of Israel, the place is cleared and normalcy is restored within minutes. This is to discourage the bombers from gloating in victory. In that sense, I will not criticise President Jonathan for his action. The only difference is that, as a set of troop is busy clearing the bomb area, another set is airborne in pursuit of the bombers and anyone remotely connected with them. The Israeli army will retaliate and inflict greater damages than the one inflicted on the people.
In that area, our soldiers are slow to respond. It does give the people a sense of protection and belongingness to realise that the state can avenge for any misdirected attack against them. This is food for thought for the authorities.