Presidential aide, Mallam Garba Shehu, has expressed confidence that the wave of Boko Haram attacks could end before the three months given by President Muhammadu Buhari to end the insurgency.
He also said that hope was not yet lost on the efforts by Nigeria’s security forces to secure the freedom of the Chibok school girls taken hostage by Boko Haram more than a year ago.
Speaking in an interview with journalists in Abuja yesterday, Shehu said the terrorists were now in disarray, having lost their central command and had been broken into splinters due to the efforts of the Nigerian troops under the new leadership.
Responding to the criticism that the President Buhari-led administration had not done enough to stop the insurgency as promised during the election campaigns, Shehu said on the contrary, the administration had been working hard to cripple the terror organisation, adding that due to intensive military bombardments, Sambisa Forest, their stronghold, was now being degraded.
“From my conversation with these commanders, what they are saying to themselves is that they are not going to wait for three months, but do their best to beat the target given by the president.
“So there is so much going on and I can assure you that spirits are very high. The army chief was there with the soldiers for about nine days. That is leadership because you see him leading the soldiers from the front.
“If the chief himself is there, who are you to drop your gun? A lot is happening and Boko Haram has been degraded, they have lost central command and are now in splinters.
“What you have now is bits and pieces carrying out distractive action because they don’t want to go down alone. So they are looking for very soft targets such as churches, mosques and markets.
“The air force is clearing this place for the ground troops to move in. They are looking for bomb making structures and moving convoys of these insurgents. But they are being careful about certain locations with the hope not to harm the Chibok girls in those locations,” he said.
Shehu, who spoke on the expectation that the administration will do something to free the Chibok girls, said the troops were being careful about certain locations so as not to harm the Chibok girls taken hostage by the terrorist group.
He explained that the bombings were being carried out in a careful manner to avoid certain locations of interest as far as the Chibok girls were concerned.
According to the president’s spokesman, Sambisa Forest was under observation 24 hours day in the event somebody decides to move the girls and if there was any movement that is suspicious, there are drones that fly around the place at night and during the day.
“To be fair to President Buhari, did he ever say he will bring back the girls on the second day of his administration? What he has always said is that we don’t even know where the girls are and that we need to go in there and get the intelligence and the situation of things and then act.
“Without meaning to endanger what is left of those girls, you know that the Sambisa Forest is being degraded right now.
“In the last few days, you even saw the Chief of Army Staff leading the troops and I am aware that in the last few weeks, very interesting pictures have been shown to the president on the basis of which we will say to Nigerians, don’t lose hope on the Chibok girls. I am not saying they have been found or that they have been seen. But it is not yet time for Nigerians to say we have lost them,” he added.