Nigerians were already acclaiming the decimation of Boko Haram Islamist insurgency as a major accomplishment of the President Muhammadu Buhari government after two years in power when, suddenly, it made a disheartening resurgence.
The signs that encouraged Nigerians to feel that we might be taking the war against terror off the front burner included the massive reconstruction efforts by the Borno State Government, plans to resettle internally-displaced persons in their communities, the recent release of a large number of Chibok girls from Boko Haram captivity and resumption of oil exploration in the Lake Chad Basin.
The build-up to the feeling of victory that has now turned out to be false also emanated from the Federal Government’s declaration, back in December 2016, that the Boko Haram terrorists had been “technically defeated” and no longer occupied any territory. The Army and Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State repeated this seeming good news so many times and the Army even announced it would set up a base in Sambisa Forest.
It is obvious that the exchanges of money and top commanders of Boko Haram for the Chibok girls added new impetus to the dwindling fortunes of agents of terror. It is also widely believed that the scourge of fifth columnists have returned to betray the gallant activities of our armed forces. Media reports have it that some individuals have turned into merchants of death, profiting from the activities of the insurgents as it so often happens in situations of conflict.
The killing of over 50 people and abduction of oil exploration personnel in the Magumeri area and the massacre of 30 fishermen in the Lake Chad Islands, added to the frequent invasions of the University of Maiduguri by suicide bombers, signpost a sad rebound of Boko Haram. We are worried over the demand of N100 million ransom by the terrorists to free the abducted oil workers.
We are, however, happy to note the speed with which the Armed Forces were mobilised by the Federal Government to counter the resurgence. We must, once again, close ranks with the military to ensure their success. A major weakness of the past was inability to hold down captured territories. Efforts must be made to correct this lapse to enable displaced persons return to their native communities.
We call on government and military information managers to guard against undue propaganda in disseminating information on progress made in the war against terror to avoid giving Nigerians false sense of victory. It is too serious an issue to be politicised.
More efforts must be made to pin down local collaborators and sponsors of Boko Haram and bring them to book. Without local support, Boko Haram would have been eliminated.