Nigerians must remain indebted to Chadian and Nigerien troops for liberating us from the scourge of Boko Haram. The two neighbouring countries have been showing extraordinary bravery in Nigeria’s liberation struggle from the sect, and, it is my opinion that we must keep thanking them.
The conspiracy behind the tenacity of Boko Haram insurgency is still confusing. Nigeria’s heroic military of the past seems to have suddenly lost every fabric of its strength to two neighbours, Chad and Niger, who came to our rescue.
No one can explain the sheer weakness of Nigeria’s armed forces in the past six years that a small group of insurgents became overwhelmingly stronger, and fiercer than the over 100,000-strong national army. It is a paradox in every sense of the word, but a country with a diluted military culture is as good as a failed nation.
Several theories have been postulated for Nigeria’s failure to respond appropriately: (1) there are those who say that the top echelon of the military conspired with the sect to create mayhem in the north eastern part of Nigeria simply to acquire more illicit funds in the name of security from the Federal Government. (2) Others insinuate that the longer the mayhem, the better for the ruling party, as elections would have to be truncated as a form of leverage for continuation, and finally, (3) despite the killing of thousands of Muslims,there are those who say that the north is bent on Islamising the country.
In an unconventional war with loss of over 3,000 lives, the most visible confidence for citizens of this great nation would have been a positive reinforcement of effort by the soldiers. This would have increased our hope that government’s effort to thwart the ever-surging insurgents was indeed genuine, and not a decoy. Everyone lost hope, at least, the majority of us living in Northern Nigeria. The fact that Nigerian soldiers could run away from the frontline because of lack of active, effective weapons to face the enemy is a testimony to the high level corruption in our military hierarchy.
Surprisingly, the effort to wipe out Boko Haram was initiated by Chad, Cameroon and Niger. Visibly, our armed forces became the only obstacle to winning the war, so much so that the Chadian soldiers practically called us “cowards.” We must remain grateful to our neighbours, who are the true heroes of war against terror.
Earlier this week, a Nigerian brigadier-general confirmed that the country has, recently, acquired weapons to become offensive as opposed to the defensive strategy hitherto employed. For a large country like Nigeria to run short of useful military resources is not just sad; it is an indication that Nigerians should never be certain about the strength and capacity of its military to keep the nation safe.
The question of who bought or did not buy proper weapons for our men and women on the frontline should never arise as government is a continuum. However, it is disheartening to learn that Nigeria’s military alone wouldn’t have been able to repel the advancement of Boko Haram.
Another strange aspect of the war with the extremists is the story that United States and Canada actually offered to help, placed their special forces in Nigeria to rescue the 220 Chibok girls, but that our armed forces frustrated them out of the country. No one has been able to accept or refute the allegation.
It is deeply overwhelming to see troops of Chad and Niger, without protective military helmet, viciously fighting to defeat the insurgents. Nigeria has more human and financial resources than all the West African countries combined, yet, corruption has over shadowed our sense of discipline and dedication to liberate our motherland from a handful of extremists.
As at the time of writing this article, no fewer than 10 Chadian soldiers and 300 Boko Haram fighters are believed to have been killed since troops from Chad and Niger crossed into Nigeria last Sunday in a major cross-border offensive against the sect, a Chadian officer said yesterday.
The officer, who asked not to be named, also confirmed reports from Nigerien sources that the joint offensive had freed the border town of Malam Fatouri and Damasak, about 10km further to the south, which had been previously held by Boko Haram.
About 30 Nigerien and Chadian soldiers were injured in the battle, it was learnt.
“We have kicked the enemy out of these areas and they are now under our control,” one of the military sources said.
Damasak is the town south of Niger border, where Nigerien and Chadian troops have been massing in recent weeks ahead of the offensive.
The source said about 300 Boko Haram militants had been killed in the fighting. There was no official confirmation of the toll and it was not possible to verify the figure.
Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency, which aims to carve out a caliphate in Nigeria’s northeast, has killed thousands. The group has pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS), which rules a self-declared caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria, according to an audio clip posted online on Saturday.
Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin have this year mobilised forces to help Nigeria defeat the group after it seized swathes of territory and mounted cross-border attacks.
Again, we should openly, through international media, glorify the effort of our neighbours instead of hiding behind the mask.