The Offensive Against Boko Haram: Four Years Late By Babayola Toungo

President Goodluck Jonathan is
irritatingly boring and endlessly
annoying in equal measures. For a
Commander in Chief to come out and
tell Nigerians that he underestimated a
threat like the Boko Haram is the height
of irresponsibility. This same man who is
now telling us he underestimated Boko
Haram was the same man who declared
state of emergency on three north-
eastern states on three different
occasions for a total of eighteen months.
If he underestimated Boko Haram, why
did he declare the state of emergency
that was ruinous to the people and the
area all this while? His state of
emergency only emboldened the
insurgents to take control of a swathe of
land the size of Belgium and spread
over the three states under the
emergency rule. For those living in the
three states it was a case of double
jeopardy – bombings, killings, and
abductions by the insurgents and
harassment by the military. I think
Jonathan believed all Nigerians are
either stupid or naïve. In my view, he
either has an addled brain or we are all
dander heads.
How can the federal government that
Jonathan is the Commander in chief be
voting one trillion Naira consecutively
for four years to the military and yet
tell us that the military lacks the
requisite equipment to fight a rag tag
army that started out as a gun-
snatching bunch of miscreants? In a
period spanning over four years, we
have been told the same yarn while
15,000 souls perished and properties
worth billions of Naira was destroyed.
While we are told that the military has
no equipment to fight the insurgents,
our military fat cats are competing with
the politicians on who drive the flashiest
cars, no doubt procured from the votes
meant for the purchase of military
hardware. I therefore find it rather
strange that Nigerians of all hue are
falling head over heels to praise the
military on the current offensive
against the Boko Haram – where were
the military all this while?
Within this period, with Jonathan as
Commander in Chief, Baga was wiped
off the map and many local
governments fell to the insurgents. We
witnessed how big towns like Mubi, Bama,
Gwoza, Gamboru, Baga, etc. was
occupied for long spells by the insurgents
with no effort by the government and its
military chiefs to liberate them before
now. Where did the president and his
military chiefs get the balls for the new
tactics – in the past they usually hold a
position and wait for the insurgents to
attack. They only ‘repel’. When the
February elections were shifted,
Nigerians were given a timeline within
which the insurgency will be brought to
an end and this time the government
appear to be on target. Unlike before.
I was flaberwhelmed and overgasted (or
is it the other way round?) to hear that
the Borno Elders Forum, those who have
been calling on Jonathan to act but had
all their pleas fall on deaf ears; those
who were shouted down by Jonathan and
his chorus singers; those who have been
on the frontline of the scourge, are now
the lead vocalists in praising the military
for doing what they were supposed to do
ages ago. Why do they choose to act now
after much of the region is destroyed
either physically or psychologically?
After over 15,000 lives were needlessly
lost; billions destroyed in houses,
businesses and man-hours lost at their
ubiquitous but useless roadblocks. After
many businesses had to fold up because
of curfews and restrictions of
movements; after wholesale massacres
and dislocations of entire communities
with family members scattered all over
the north.
Nigerians should ask Jonathan and his
military chiefs for explanations as to
the new found courage and equipment
for tackling the insurgency that they
couldn’t do in four years. They should
be asked to explain the new found
resolve, courage, determination,
weaponry and balls – yes, balls – to
reclaim territories which they hitherto
failed to do; they should tell us where
they got the nous to invade the Sambisa
forest, which they repeatedly told us is
impregnable. They should tell Nigerians
how an army that was running away
from the insurgents overnight got
transformed into a fearsome fighting
machine, driving fear into the hearts of
hardened killers who now dress like
women, just like Alamieyseigha. But most
importantly, they should tell us, which
Shekau is the president ordering the
army to capture alive. Marlyn Ogar, the
garrulous spokesman (woman?) of the
DSS told Nigerians last year that Shekau
was killed in Konduga and his body
displayed for all to see.
I cannot comprehend how a military
that stood by, feigning helplessness, not
long ago, can be praised for doing their
job four years late. I am yet to be
convinced that an institution like the
Nigerian military, revered abroad for its
prowess, will woefully fail in its primary
responsibility of defending the
territorial integrity of the nation could
be praised. I fail to see how I am
supposed to be grateful to those who
intimidated, harassed and even
question my humanity. I am at a loss on
why I am expected to canonize an army
that more often than not act like the
Boko Haram, at least in the northeast. I
am but a poor Nigerian whose humanity
was diminished by those holding guns on
our highways while terrorist were having
field days in the towns.
What do I tell a parent whose daughter
have been abducted for almost a year
with no hope of seeing her again? What
do I tell a family that lost a child to the
marauding killers? How am I supposed
to look someone who lost his worldly
possession because of the inaction of the
government and its security apparatus
and tell him that the military is doing
well for him? How do I tell an orphan to
put his trust in a government that stood
by while his parents were butchered? I
cannot in all honesty and with a clear
conscience say kudos to our government
and the military for discharging their
statutory responsibility of protecting the
lives of the people and the territorial
integrity of the nation four years late.
No sir, Mr president, I am not buying
into this latest vote-getting scam. Not at
the expense of those traumatized by
your inertia.

views expressed are not necessarily the opinion of blog author.

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