Boko Haram: How not to fight the insurgents

The hostilities that broke out since the declaration of emergency rule in Yobe, Adamawa and Borno States between the Federal troops and the Boko-Haram sect had claimed casualties on both sides. But the battle that took place on Thursday, September, 12, 2013, between the two sides in Borno State could be described as the mother of all battles with very high casualties recorded with conflicting reports.

While some news reports claimed that the Nigerian army lost 40 soldiers, with 65 soldiers declared missing, another medium reported that 16 soldiers died, including a lieutenant, while the battle claimed the lives of 150 Boko-Haram insurgents.

Some online reports quoted some sources that operational blunders and communication gap on the part of the Federal troops led to the high casualties suffered by the men of the Nigeria Army.

It should be noted that Nigerian contingents to peace-keeping missions in the West African sub region and the African continent has distinguished itself over the years in all its assignments in countries like Liberia, Sierra-Leone, Uganda, Cote D’Ivoire, and recently in Mali.

It is, therefore, disturbing if such a well disciplined and fine army is being embarrassed with the activities of local insurgents like Boko-Haram.

According to the Army spokesman, Brigadier-General Ibrahim “the enemy’s camp was well-fortified with anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns mounted on vehicles” (Nigerian Tribune, Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, page 12).

To avoid unnecessary high casualty rate in future, the Nigerian Army may need to do more homework within and fish out more fifth columnists that are throwing spanners in the wheels of its progress in this particular assignment. While the Federal Government should continue with the dialogue option in tackling the menace, the Nigerian Army should fish out her members who may be leaking high level operational strategies to the insurgents.

Unfortunately, the Nigerian state is fighting a needless war with her own citizens and recording high casualties on both sides of the same coin. And to think that this is an avoidable war that has been caused by the actions and inactions of our politicians makes one to shed tears for a nation that is fighting a fratricidal war with herself.

At the moment, development of infrastructure in Borno State, and other areas in the North, has been put on a perpetual hold until the insurgency is either crushed or appeased.

Once again, we call on opinion leaders in Borno State, who have the ears of the Boko Haram members to appeal to them and let them embrace the dialogue option offered by the Federal Government so that the state, and Nigeria, can move forward.

Gbemiga Olakunle, General Secretary, National Prayer Movement.



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