Editorial

Can the military out-gun the bombers?

At every stage in the 6-year boko haram/Nigeria war (we may call it that), the fear of the unknown is always the aching nightmare that the struggle makes us feel as Nigerians. That unknown is the long-term possibility of boko haram continuing its successful bombing of soft targets in spite of increased fire power by our forces.
What will win us the war is the capacity to hold out until boko haram is spent, tired or worn out. Nigeria lasting a long drawn out war with a small quantity as boko haram and winning it is hardly in doubt. However, the distance between now and when the war ends matters a lot for Nigeria’s image, more than how it ends. And this is what Mr. President has been more anxious about. He wants it to end quickly, mentioning specifically before year’s end as his target, during his recent visit to the Republic of Benin. The intricacies of the war have not been well understood among the populace and even in the government and its military.
Probably, Mr. President is so anxious to subdue boko haram quickly to have the composure to face squarely the real developmental and reform challenges he faces as a new president. He needs to have something to show for the four years he is to be in charge. If boko haram takes all the time and resources for the president’s larger assignments, the group would have inflicted the damage they want to do to Nigeria. But we are not convinced a proper reading of the war has been done. The war strategies have not been mapped out to the satisfaction of the people. This has been the flaw in the prosecution of the conflict. We are not impressed that Nigeria is contending with a costly internal war this time, when virtually all the sectors are crying for urgent attention in the country.
Nigeria’s war objectives with boko haram need to be known. What is at stake? Is it territorial integrity? Is it to prove its superiority or military power? When that has been done, how do we persuade the perverted, disgruntled elements to drop their warped idea that western education is evil? The issue of boko haram sponsors and steady war supplies will linger if not sorted out now along with the war action. Certainly, boko haram enjoys local and foreign sympathies, which Nigeria will find difficult to fathom without real soul-searching. Until Nigeria does that, its boko haram endeavors will leave it flabbergasted when the International Joint Military Task Force has done its best to vaporize the regular infantry forces, but can’t do much it seems about little-girl suicide bombers causing the havoc who have been ubiquitous, effective and difficult to identify and contain.

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