EMBATTLED Governor Kassim Shettima of Borno State told newsmen that the appointment of two top defence functionaries from the state is a sign that the war against the Boko Haram terrorists will soon enter the end-game stage. The new National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Major General Babagana Monguno, and the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Tukur Buratai, are from the State.
Both have been involved in one capacity or the other in the efforts of the federal government to rein in the terrorists, with Buratai having just recently commanded the Multinational Joint Task Force, the military coalition of Nigeria and her neighbours dedicated to the defeat of Boko Haram.
Since Buratai took over, a flurry of activities has pointed to a possible recharge of the lingering war on Boko Haram. He has renamed the code of the operations from “Operation Zaman Lafia” (campaign to bring peace) to “Operation Lafia Dole” (campaign to enforce peace). He has visited many traditional rulers in the theatre of war to solicit cooperation of the populace, and opted to celebrate the I EL Fitri Sallah with the troops at the war from.
There are merits in assuming that when a “son of the soil” takes over command of a military operation he is likely to give something extra; he is likely to exhibit more “ownership”. A case in point was that of the immediate former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Marshall Alex Badeh, whose hometown, Vimtim, in Adamawa State was overrun by the terrorists, but he later coordinated efforts to retrieve not only his hometown but also recovered almost every territory occupied by the insurgents during the six-week surge under ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
Buratai must bear in mind that since the President Muhammadu Buhari assumed power, Boko Haram has become much more murderous than ever, wreaking a death toll of nearly 1,000 people under two months. They have returned to the asymmetrical strategy of suicide bombings. They have gone back to residing among the people and using deceptive couriers, such as children, women and disabled people to penetrate crowded places to do their evil deed.
To effectively confront the menace, the cooperation that Buratai seeks cannot be over-emphasised. Efforts must be put in mobilising the citizenry all over the terror-prone areas and the country at large to be vigilant. People must be sensitised on how to identify danger and report to the military authorities. Greater cooperation between the military and the Civilian JTF vigilantes is a sine qua non.
New strategies must be created to cope with the changing dynamics of the terrorist offence. The new “home boys” in charge cannot afford to fail. The end of Boko Haram must begin now.