Nigeria On The Precipice: Why It Has Failed To Defeat Boko Haram And What Must Be Done Now! By Dr. Ijabla Raymond

I do not believe that the government fully understands the
nature or the gravity of the problem that confronts it. There
appears to be greater preoccupation with winning next year’s
elections than with fighting BH. This is unfortunate because
more northern Nigerian towns and villages are falling under
the control of jihadist terrorists by the day. In the last two months the world has been preoccupied with
events in the Middle East, namely the Israel-Palestinian
conflict and the Islamic State in Iraq & Syria (ISIS). The
stories and pictures emanating from these places are
absolutely gruesome and the world is right to focus on them.
But I do not understand why the genocide and displacement of
communities in northern Nigeria by Boko Haram (BH) has
escaped the attention of the world, even though the situation
there is arguably on a similar scale to what we are seeing in
the Middle East right now. In the last week alone, BH has captured three towns – Gwoza,
Limankara and Madagali – in the northeastern states of Borno
and Adamawa. In the style of ISIS fighters, the group has
captured military bases, seized military hardware, burnt down
entire villages, killed the inhabitants in the process, executed
soldiers and civilians by beheading them, and caused the
displacements of communities.
We all recall the abduction of nearly 250 girls and the #
BringBackOurGirls campaign. Since then there have been more
reports of abductions, attacks on schools and the murder of
innocent students. I do not mean to trivialise the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict but no one needs to be reminded about the
degree of global news coverage that followed the abduction
and murder of three Israeli teenagers and the conflict that
Nigeria is a regional power and has taken part in many
successful peacekeeping missions in Africa and around the
world. Unfortunately, this giant is now confronted with a type
of problem that it seems incapable of solving on its own. Only
last week, a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary entitled
“Nigeria’s Hidden War” revealed damning footages of
unprofessional behaviour and gross human rights abuses by
Nigerian soldiers in their attempt to contain BH. Their
methods were indistinguishable from those employed by BH
and have been rightly condemned by Amnesty International.
Quite why the largest army in Africa with its impressive record
of successful international peacekeeping missions cannot
defeat a domestic terrorist organisation is everybody’s guess.
Why was this organisation even allowed to grow when it could
have been nipped in the bud? The failure of the army to
defeat BH has been attributed to corruption,
unprofessionalism, under-resourcefulness, lack of equipment,
poor motivation, the deliberate crippling of the military by
successive military governments to prevent coups, and the
infiltration of the army’s rank and file by BH sympathisers
and saboteurs. But there is a more important reason – poor
understanding of BH’s mission or a denial of it.
terrorism is arguably the biggest threat to world
peace in the 21st century. There is only one correct way to view
BH, and that is, as terrorists. It is a serious error of
judgement to presume that BH is a political tool put in place to
humiliate a Christian president or to topple his government or
to re-establish northern hegemony or that it is even a political
party of some description. I suspect this is the advice that
President Jonathan has received, and this may explain his
apparent indecisiveness in dealing with BH. Lest we forget, BH
started its violent campaigns during the presidency of
Yar’Adua who was a Muslim from northern Nigeria. If BH
wants to re-establish northern hegemony, then attempting to
assassinate respected Northern leaders such as the Emir of
Kano and the Shehu of Borno would seem like a stupid,
counterintuitive and counterproductive thing to do.
BH is a terror-fascist organisation whose only objective is to
create their version of an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria. It does not respect
Nigeria’s internal borders, and like other fascist groups
such as ISIS, the ultimate goal is the establishment of a
worldwide caliphate.
Shekau has repeatedly threatened that his targets are Christians and muslims who do not agree with his ideology .
The Quran refers to Christians and Jews as “people of the
BOOK. It is the way of life of these people (of the book) that
BH refers to as “haram” or forbidden. Non-
islamic education, democracy, civic institutions such as the
police, military, judiciary are synonymous with Western
Civilization. This is why BH wants
to destroy these institutions and replace them with their caliphate.
Shekau has also repeatedly said that any Muslim who does not
subscribe to the ideology of BH or its version of Islam is a
legitimate target for attack. This includes Muslims who
participate in any process that is considered un-Islamic by the group or
non-compliant with Sharia e.g. politicians, democrats,
policemen, military personnel, school students or university
students. This is why BH sought to kill those respected emirs. It
is why Shekau referred to the late but respected Muslim
politicians, Sir Balewa and Mallam Aminu Kano, as infidels. He
even called the king and princes of Saudi Arabia infidels.
Otherwise, the death of any Muslim during BH campaigns is
unintended and is purely collateral damage. This simply put  defines the mindset of BH and it is not designed to stir up
hatred between Christians and Muslims. All peace-loving
Nigerians, whether they be Christians or Muslims, must rise
and fight this ideology.
I do not believe that the government fully understands the
nature or the gravity of the problem that confronts it. There
appears to be greater preoccupation with winning next year’s
elections than with fighting BH. This is unfortunate because
more northern Nigerian towns and villages are falling under
the control of jihadist terrorists by the day. If you live outside
the northeast zone and think you are immune from this
problem, then think again!
Ladies and gentlemen, our country is at the edge of the
precipice. Forgive me if this sounds alarmist but the video
released by BH showing our soldiers fleeing into the mountains
and across the border into Cameroon should raise alarm. We
should be asking whether the Nigeria army has the capability
to defeat BH, and if so, why this has not been used. How did
our prestigious army, the largest in Africa, get to the point
where it now runs away from a group of insurgents? If our
army cannot defeat or contain these insurgents, shouldn’t we
be asking for regional or international help now? After all, our
army has helped to stabilise the governments of many
countries around the world on it’s many peacekeeping missions
– so why shouldn’t we get help when we need one?
Last year, I wrote an article in which I discussed the factors
responsible for the birth of BH as well as short and long-term
strategies for combating the insurgency. Fourteen months
later, I am sad to note that we now have a terrorist group that
has become more capable and daring, mainly because our
government has only focused on military power and a state-
of-emergency ruling.
It is pertinent to repeat some of my advice here. Military force
alone is not sufficient to overcome violent religious extremism.
We need to develop and propagate counter-narratives against
the ideology that breeds such extremism.
There needs to be urgent action to address the problem of
Almajiri destitution and to regulate what the Almajiris are
being taught in Koranic schools. We can no longer afford to let
fundamentalist preachers (whether native or invited from
foreign countries) to continue running wild without some form
of censorship.
President Jonathan and his advisers must change their tactic –
we are a country at war against terrorists. It is
regrettable that our president did not make a public
statement on the Chibok abductions until he was forced to do
so (many weeks after the abductions) by international
pressure from the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Until now,
the president has yet to visit these troubled spots. It was
Malala Yusuf who finally managed to convince him fairly
recently to meet the family of the abducted girls. The
president must be advised that this is not a war by a group of
enemies to topple his government and he must, from now on,
fight this war with all the will, power and resources at his
As experience has shown in Rwanda, Bosnia, Somalia and with
ISIS fighters in Iraq, situations like ours can degenerate very
rapidly, but lives can be saved if the international community
acts decisively and timely. Nigeria needs urgent help with
training, intelligence gathering and reconnaissance. We need to
put the focus back on Nigeria. With a population of nearly 170
million people, nobody should want to see a refugee crisis
situation develop in Nigeria!

Ijabla Raymond, a medical doctor of Nigerian heritage writes
from the UK. Contact him at


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