By Kayode Ogundamisi
It is a very painful week for me, but whatever pain I feel is nothing compared to the pain more than 30 families are feeling in Maiduguri Nigeria right now.
Boko Haram attacked a major road close to the Maiduguri Air Force base and Maiduguri airport, I know the area, I stayed in that side of town for days when I visited Maiduguri and photos from the area bring back memories. The terrorists according to reports killed over 30 people, operated for hours unchallenged, photos of roasted Nigerians are being shared on social media some out of concern and outrage, others to mock and celebrate, some with outlandish captions, one wrote on twitter to the Maiduguri people ‘enjoy your Buhari’ as if Maiduguri was heaven pre 2015 but even as insensitive as the comments may sound, those who support the government must raise the bar. Victory against Boko Haram shouldn’t be limited to ‘at least it is better than before’.
That the terrorists scored a major cowardly victory against unprotected civilians is not in dispute, it is a ‘victory’ meant to demoralise the brave men and women of our armed forces who I must say are fighting a war and defending every corner of our country despite many barrages of mockery and demoralising comments from the same Nigerians they serve and many of their comrades die to protect, they deserve our support, anyone who volunteers to bear arm in protection of Nigeria is a better human being than many of us. Boko Haram methods are shocking and dreadful, it is a strategy used by ISIS and being adopted by Boko Haram to strike fear into the local populace.
Decapitating captives, kidnapping and raping young girls, stoking Christians against Muslims and Muslims against Christians is a strategy Boko Haram and its associates adopted and sadly in a very effective way, we know Boko Haram strategy. The question is what is the strategy of the President and Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces President Buhari? In case the President does not know it, his strategy is waning, the people want better, they want Boko Haram not our military and our civilian population on the defence if not completely wiped out.
The excuse of ‘things are at least better than the Jonathan days’ or ‘at least Boko Haram no longer attack Abuja and other places’ is no longer tenable.
The response of government is becoming more predictable, reactive rather than proactive, an attack happens, the presidency issues a condolence message, promise to deal with Boko Haram, some appointees insults our intelligence with unguarded statements then we all move on until the next attack. In a rare demonstration of unity, both opponents and supporters of the government have called for the removal of the service Chiefs, the Presidency seems to have its own strategy, whatever that strategy is, it obviously isn’t working. Change your service chiefs and change your strategy, get help from outside if need be. This is a battle for the soul of Nigeria.
The bulk stops at the desk of the President and Commander in Chief Mohammad Buhari, it is his responsibility to protect Nigerians. Lead, pick the best available in crushing Boko Haram and other criminal elements. Nigeria’s defence spending’s have increased since 2015, are our men and women getting the best of equipment’s? are they motivated?
How come Boko Haram appear to have better intelligence on our troop movements and vulnerable spots than we have on them? We allocate billions on National Intelligence Agency, State Security Services, Military Intelligence and multiple agencies meant to embed in crisis areas and top leaders of Boko Haram are still in action.
The President needs to demonstrate his concerns not just with press releases but physical empathy that can reach the heart and minds of victims and our brave soldiers. Terrorism isn’t a battle that can be won at a go, it is a global scourge and even the best of countries are still battling with insurgents but their elected leaders lead, they inspire, they demonstrate the best of their abilities and when terrorists strikes, the populace side with the government knowing they have done all that is humanly possible to stop the bad guys, we are yet to see that in the past leadership of Nigeria and we are not seeing that in the current government both at Federal, State, Local and Legislative arms of government, everyone is complaining, even elected officials who should be resolving the issues are complaining. How will that hard working farmer not pay tax to Boko Haram when his elected official with all his security apparatus stay away from Biu out of fear from Boko Haram attack, how will my people in Ikare not just give up knowing the Governor of the State won’t dare send any of his family members to ply Akure-Ikare road without at least 15 armed security men.
Terrorists, Kidnappers and the bad guys don’t ask for part affiliations, they do not ask for state of origin or religious affiliations, they get the evil job done to satisfy their thirst for blood. The President and his team MUST change tactics. We can’t have the bad guys take over our commonwealth.