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The will to end Boko Haram menace

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By Sunny Ikhioya

WITH a firm will, the Boko Haram scourge can be ended within a short time. But do we have the will? Are those in authority willing to stop this war? Are we all not being sentimental about this Boko Haram thing?

We have to give it to them: our combined armed forces have been at it since the era of Yar’Adua-Jonathan and now Buhari, over 10 years and still counting. They have tried their best, especially having to confront the novel asymmetric style of warfare, where you cannot see the enemy and he keeps coming; he could be your immediate colleague with whom you sleep and dine with daily.

The death toll keeps rising; our leaders are exasperated and the President is still surprised that the Boko Haram is still around. But, must we continue in this manner? It is a trite saying that “no matter how far you have gone down a wrong route, it is never too late to take a reverse turn and chart the correct route”.

That seem to be our dilemma with the Boko Haram war. If our armed forces are truly doing enough as some claim, why are we not winning? Have we reviewed our strategies?

Do we have the right intelligence gathering in place? Are the people properly carried along? Are people sentimental because of religious and cultural reasons? Are people ethnically biased?

If the strategies have been wrong all these while, then we must change tactics; if the personnel we have put in charge to execute the Boko Haram challenge have fallen below expectations, we must change them. If the equipment we are using are not up to the standard to enable us win this war, then we must upgrade at all cost.

What matters most is that we must prosecute this war to a decisive conclusion. The longer it persists, the more difficult it will be to put it to rest and if that is not done now, you can bet that will be a big threat to the existence of this nation.

There are no two ways to it: it is either we put Boko Haram to rest or risk the continued existence of this country. There must be no sentiment to our approach to it; the terrorists are very wicked and devilish in the manner they prosecute their wars and if you want to bring the humanism of modern warfare into tackling them, you will find it difficult to get the desired result.

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This is not an assumption, we have witnessed it with the Tamil Tigers in Sri-Lanka. After prosecuting a war for decades, the rebels were able to carve out territories out for themselves. The war was dragging but the Sri Lanka army decided to take the battle to the enemy; there was no looking back, it was a zero sum game, you either win completely or you lose completely.

The New Yorker of January 17, 2011, recorded it like this: “When the end came for the Liberation of Tigers of Tamil Ealam in May 2009, it was overwhelming and unmerciful”. And that was the end of that insurgency, it is only a piece of history in that country’s record today.

You do not need to pet and pamper criminals and insurgents as we have done here in Nigeria, to the extent of conscripting so-called “repentant” Boko Haram terrorists into our military. This will not work in cases of deeply radicalised individuals; they will only succeed in manipulating the authorities. The drug war in Colombia did not come to an end too until the authorities chose to take the battle to the war lords led by Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug lord and terrorist leader of the Medellin cartel.

We all know the history, we must take the battle to the insurgents/Boko Haram without sentiment, and until they are totally decimated. We are prosecuting this war with sympathy for bandits, terrorists and insurgents, that must stop.

The Military High Command must declare total war on these people and equip our army with the right manpower and equipment to carry out this task, with a time frame put in place. We must follow the Niccolo Machiavelli school of thought: “Never do your enemy a minor injury”.

Meaning, if you are to defeat an enemy, you should ensure that you deal with him so thoroughly that he will never have the capacity to rise against you again; because if you allow otherwise, you will be leaving room for an act of future revenge against you.

That is the solution this piece is advocating here in dealing with the Boko Haram and halting their destructive and beastly activities presently taking us back to the Stone Age era. Those in our war control rooms must begin to fashion out strategies that will bring this war to an end. It must not be looked at as a brother-brother thing anymore.

It is time to put a full stop to their activities and this must begin with restructuring- this word again- in our military. As it is now, can we say that the army is well represented in every department by merit?

Amongst our commanders, is there a preponderance of any religion and ethnic group? Are promotions and postings done on merit? Because you have to motivate our soldiers to fight at the risk of their lives, they have to see that you are fair and just in the way assignments are given. The North which is daily being ravaged by insurgents must produce a preponderance of those fighting against Boko Haram insurgents. This begins with indoctrination and a belief that their survival and that of future generations are at stake. You cannot fight any war without information. We must know the Boko Haram mode of operations, their movements, their suppliers, etc.

The Boko Haram insurgents do not respect religion or ethnicity; so we must all put heads together to destroy them so that our country can have peace.

Ikhioya wrote via


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