By Nwangwu Ubah
Ahead of the 2019 general elections, President Muhammadu Buhari appears set to redeem his 2015 electioneering Campaign promise of going to mobilise forces to defeat the BokoHaram insurgents in the north east geo-political region of the country by providing better fighting equipment, training and more accurate intelligence for the soldiers.
Buhari may have won the heart of Nigerians when he announced within six months of taking over from former President Goodluck Jonathan that the militant group had been technically deefeated. It was a cheering news to Nigerians who had wished to see the end of the Boko Haram crisis. But that was how far the President could go. Barely six months to the end of his first term in office, the insurgents appear to have grown from strength that they could attack military formations without blinking in borno state which had been at the receiving end despite being the operational base of the the Lake Chad Basin Commission, LCBC, Multinational Joint Task Force, MJTF and the Nigeria soldiers.
The militant group may have sent a signal to Buhari that they could not be easily defeated by the MJTF and the Nigeria forces because of their network of surveillance in the state. and other parts of the Lake Chad Basin when they killed over 100 soldiers on Sunday, November 25, 2018 at the 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele , Borno state. The initial claim of the Army, according sources was that only 39 soldiers lost their lives during the insurgent attack . They may have told the lies to water down the anger of the President and Nigerians. The killing of the soldiers may have exposed the lies and deceit of the security operatives on the security situation in Borno state.
An angry Abubakar Elkanemi, the Shehu of Borno, could not hide his royal feelings when the President paid a courtesy visit to his Palace after the high profile security meeting with the Heads of State and Governments of the member countries of the LCBC, at N’jemena, Capital of Republic of Niger , last Wednesday.
The revered traditional ruler had told the President that Borno state is ‘under siege”. He stopped short at telling the President not to listen to the lies of his security operatives over reports about the security situation in the state. The monarch reportedly dismissed claims by security operatives that the ongoing military operations in the state and other parts of the Lake Chad region was yielding result.
He insists that there is still much that needed to be done to save the people from the repeated attacks of the insurgents. He lamented that as at now, ” nobody dares moves 10 kilometers out of the state without being attacked by the insurgents. ”. The Shehu of Borno’s no hold bar discussion with the President in his Palace may have exposed the security lapses in the state.
The Metele killing of soldiers in Borno state may have informed the decision of the Nigerian President to rally round the Heads of States and Governments of Republic of Niger, Cameroun and Chad and an extended invitation to Patrice Talon, the President of Republic of Benin, though not a member of the LCBC, for a meeting to find a lasting solution to the renewed onslaught in the north east, particular Borno state. Femi Adesina, Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, in a Statement, said the one day Consultation was basically to address the recent upsurge in terrorist activities in the Lake Chad Basin region. Worried by the activities of the insurgents, an aggrieved Buhari was said to have used the opportunity of the meeting to plead with his counterparts in the LCBC member countries to increase their support for the MJTF, for a renewed fresh onslaught against the insurgents.
He admitted that the region in the recent times had witnessed increasing attacks of the the BokoHaram insurgents which requires quick intervention measures. He also revealed why the terrorists may be making a headway in their attacks on military formations and civilian populations because of their recent deployment of Unmanned erial Vehicles for Surveillance operations in the region.
Perhaps, to ensure that the member countries of the LCBC effort this time around to curtail the activities of the insurgents may not be in vain Buhari was said to have requested that the ”bilateral and multilateral platforms of engagements by member countries affected by the insurgents activities which had been in the limbo over the years be revamped to ensure collective actions” towards stamping out the remnants of the terrorists from the region”.
Many believe that Buhari may have taken the battle against the BokoHaram insurgents seriously because of the 2019 general elections to boost his chance of being re-elected for a second term. He knew that that the inability to crush the insurgents might rub him of vital votes in the region that he had to seek the support of the other Heads of State and Government of the LCBC to increase their arms supply to the MJTF,to sustain the tempo of attack on the insurgents until they are finally crushed and pushed out of the region.
Already, the killing of the over 100 soldiers in Metele 157 Task force Battalion in Borno have turned into a Campaign issue that Buhari had warned his opponents in other parties, particular, Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic party, PDP, not to politicise the killing of the soldiers to avoid heating up the polity.
Abubakar was said to have told those that care to listen that funding has been the major challenge for the Nigerian military , thus making it impossible to order for new fighting equipment from their oversea suppliers. He had said that the funding challenge of the military would not be allowed to linger on if elected as the next President in the 2019 general election. The PDP Presidential flag bearer regretted that , ”neither the Presidency nor the military has issued a statement about the tragedy , which had occurred on November 18, 2018.
The President may have made people to believe that BokoHaram was created out of poverty in the north east but Abubakar, the Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, thinks differently. Giving a privilaged information, he confirmed that ” it was formed by youths abandoned by politicians”.
He was said to have revealed in an interview, with African Report that he knew how the military group came into being, noting that ”I happen to know how BokoHaram came into being. They are offshoots of political thuggery, noting that”politicians used those boys in BokoHaram to win elections and then abandoned them and then, thus leaving them with no other job to do”.
He lamented, ” In 1998, I saw it myself and I warned people ” about the implications. Going the Buhari way, he had said if elected as the next President of Nigeria, it would not be much of a problem to deal with the group , noting that he would adopt a multifaceted approach that would involve ”negotiations and military actions”. It would be recalled that Falmata Abubakarr, the mother of Abubakar Shekau , the acclaimed leader of the Boko Haram insurgents had blamed the politicians for turning her son into a terrorist after using him and his group to win election. This is where the next elected President may have to look inwards to get to the root of the Boko Haram emergence to be able fish out the sponsors and their oversea collaborators to be able to clip their wings from further launching of attack on military targets and civilian populations. Until this done, the fight against the insurgents, according to a security expert who spoke to the Magazine on condition of anonymity would be a wasted effort.
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