How the APC Government Will Defeat Boko-Haram

This was an opinion article by President-
elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, as
published in Monday’s edition of New
York Times.

When Boko Haram attacked a school in
the town of Chibok, in northeastern
Nigeria, kidnapping more than 200 girls,
on the night of April 14, 2014, the
people of my country were aghast. Across
the world, millions of people joined them
in asking: How was it possible for this
terrorist group to act with such
impunity? It took nearly two weeks
before the government even commented
on the crime.
This lack of reaction was symptomatic of
why the administration of President
Goodluck Jonathan was swept aside last
month – the first time an incumbent
president has been successfully voted
out of office in the history of our
nation. For too long they ruled, not
governed, and in doing so had become
so focused on their own self-interest
and embroiled in corruption that the
duty to react to the anguish suffered by
their citizens had become alien to them.
My administration, which will take office
on May 29, will act differently – indeed
it is the very reason we have been
elected. This must begin with honesty as
to whether the Chibok girls can be
rescued. Currently their whereabouts
remain unknown. We do not know the
state of their health or welfare, or
whether they are even still together or
alive. As much as I wish to, I cannot
promise that we can find them: to do so
would be to offer unfounded hope, only
to compound the grief if, later, we find
we cannot match such expectation. But I
say to every parent, family member and
friend of the children that my
government will do everything in its
power to bring them home.
What I can pledge, with absolute
certainty, is that from the first day of
my administration, Boko Haram will
know the strength of our collective will
and commitment to rid this nation of
terror, and bring back peace and
normalcy to all the affected areas. Until
now, Nigeria has been wanting in its
response to their threat: With our
neighbours fighting hard to push the
terrorists south and out of their
countries, our military was not
sufficiently supported or equipped to
push north. As a consequence, the
outgoing government’s lack of
determination was an accidental
enabler of the group, allowing them to
operate with impunity in Nigerian
territory.
That is why the answer to defeating
Boko Haram begins and ends with
Nigeria. That is not to say that allies
cannot help us. My administration would
welcome the resumption of a military
training agreement with the United
States, which was halted during the
previous administration. We must, of
course, have better coordination with
the military campaigns our African
allies, like Chad and Niger, are waging
in the struggle against Boko Haram. But,
in the end, the answer to this threat
must come from within Nigeria.
We must start by deploying more troops
to the front and away from civilian
areas in central and southern Nigeria
where for too long they have been used
by successive governments to quell
dissent. We must work closer with our
neighbors in coordinating our military
efforts so an offensive by one army
does not see their country’s lands rid of
Boko Haram only to push it across the
border onto their neighbors’ territory.
But as our military pushes Boko Haram
back, as it will, we must be ready to
focus on what else must be done to
counter the terrorists. We must address
why it is that young people join Boko
Haram. There are many reasons why
vulnerable young people join militant
groups, but among them are poverty and
ignorance. Indeed Boko Haram – which
translates in English, roughly, as
“Western Education Is Sinful” – preys on
the perverted belief that the
opportunities that education brings are
sinful.
Promise of food
If you are starving and young, and in
search of answers as to why your life is
so difficult, fundamentalism can be
alluring. We know this for a fact because
former members of Boko Haram have
admitted it: They offer impressionable
young people money and the promise of
food, while the group’s mentors twist
their minds with fanaticism. So we must
be ready to offer the parts of our
country affected by this group an
alternative.
Boosting education will be a direct
counterbalance to Boko Haram’s appeal.
In particular we must educate more
young girls, ensuring they will grow up to
be empowered through learning to play
their full part as citizens of Nigeria and
pull themselves up and out of poverty.
Indeed, we owe it to the schoolgirls of
Chibok to provide as best an education
as possible for their fellow young
citizens.
Boko Haram feeds off despair. It feeds
off a lack of hope that things can
improve. By attacking a site of learning,
and kidnapping more than 200
schoolgirls, it sought to strike at the very
place where hope for the future is
nurtured, and the promise of a better
Nigeria. It is our intention to show Boko
Haram that it will not succeed. My
government will first act to defeat it
militarily and then ensure that we
provide the very education it despises to
help our people help themselves. Boko
Haram will soon learn that, as Nelson
Mandela said, “Education is the most
powerful weapon which you can use to
change the world.”

views expressed are not necessarily the opinion of blog author.

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