FOLLOWING the Metele disaster in which 23 (according to the Nigerian Army) and 118 soldiers (according to independent sources) lost their lives and scores wounded, the Federal Government and the Armed Forces responded with defiance as most governments are wont to do in the face of terror attacks.
This year’s Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference was shifted from Benin, Edo State to Maiduguri in Borno State in a manner of “taking the fight closer to the enemy”. President Muhammadu Buhari stormed the capital of embattled Borno State, visited injured soldiers in hospitals and delivered a message he hoped would boost the troops’ morale.
After condoling with the families whose loved ones were killed in the anti-terror war, he made it clear that there was no alternative to the defeat of Boko Haram, and that the Federal Government is prepared to improve the welfare of the military and provide them with modern armaments.
While we commend the President for responding positively to the slap on our faces by the Islamist terrorists, we recall with sadness that this was exactly the way the regime had reacted to the upsurge of Boko Haram attacks in the early days after he assumed power in 2015. The President, who had during his inauguration speech vowed to “lead from the front” in the war against terrorism, also ordered the command headquarters for “Operation Lafiya Dole” relocated from Abuja to Maiduguri.
The stance of the Federal and Borno State governments was never to give Boko Haram the impression that their attacks can in any way affect the normal running of governance. That was probably why in December that year the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced that the terrorists had been “technically defeated”. The Army not only announced several capture and destruction of their camps, we were also told that Boko Haram no longer occupied an inch of Nigeria’s territory.
On its own part, the Borno State Government commenced massive reconstruction of liberated communities, rebuilding of schools and the steady return of the internally-displaced persons to their communities.
Nigerians were already looking forward to the final announcement of the end of Boko Haram activities until recently when the terrorists resumed a series of painful strikes on our military formations with heavy tolls on our troops.
The Federal Government must look inward and identify the reasons behind the recent resurgence and ensure that the lapses that led to them are conclusively addressed. The President must be reminded that the Boko Haram war was partly responsible for the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, and if care is not taken it could also affect his electoral fortunes next year.
We can defeat Boko Haram; we must!