For some time now, Boko Haram has returned with fire and fury. To cap their wicked exploits, their recent ambush of a geological survey team at the Lake Chad Basin is yet another indication that the bloody terror group in the North-East of the country is far from being annihilated. The attack on the Frontier Exploration Services/Surface Geochemistry Sampling team regrettably claimed many lives, including those of five lecturers of the University of Maiduguri, Borno State, 15 soldiers, eleven members of the Civilian Joint Task Force and some officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), with at least three other persons abducted.
In spite of the asymmetrical nature of guerrilla warfare anywhere in the world, the reverses, which the Nigerian military has suffered in the war against Boko Haram in recent times call to question our celebration of victory and to a reasonable extent, war strategies deployed to defeat the terrorists. With the reality we face in recent time, it has become imperative to urgently evaluate them to sustain the gains of last year, gains made against the insurgents. For several weeks and months nothing was heard of the insurgents and our military was more or less winding down. Although there have been killings before the one involving the lecturers, for avoidance of doubt, the team was attacked on its way back from its scheduled exploratory activities. As Major General John Enenche, Director of Defence Information, disclosed in his press briefing on the attack, the vehicles conveying the exploration team were carefully isolated and visited with mayhem.
The picture painted above suggests high level sabotage and infiltration of our military and security ranks for the benefit of Boko Haram. This is insane. It indicates that the terrorists may have penetrated our security organisations and are now able to launch attacks at will, and with impunity, despite the best efforts of our military and civilian authorities.
It is heart warming that the UNIMAID authorities and the management of the NNPC have read this incident correctly. This is definitely not a time to despair or retreat. It is not a time to succumb to the blackmail of the insurgents. Consequently, for the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU to resort to threats of strike to force the situation is uncalled for. Instead, this desperate time requires that all hands must be on deck. ASUU must show that indeed it is the thinking fraternity of our country by coming out with workable steps to help tame terror and banish poverty in their immediate environment.
It is unfortunate that Nigeria’s security agencies have not been able to sufficiently infiltrate the ranks of Boko Haram. To maintain their recent gains in this war and effectively reduce the ability of the terrorists to launch attacks, our security forces must always be ahead of the insurgents in their strategies, tactics and plans. Our military must be able to anticipate and nip their attacks in the bud. This will require a very sophisticated and adaptable counter-insurgency plan.
The second point is the understanding that our military needs well motivated men and adequate materials. Sequel to this latest attack, the news broke that the US has approved the sale of some aircraft to the Nigerian government. Belated as some of these actions may seem, they are welcome in our quest to totally dominate our territories and roundly defeat the insurgents. But, no one should be deceived that it is going to be an easy exercise. There will be reversals of the kind the nation recently experienced, but the challenge is to constantly reevaluate our strategies and rally our combined troops to resounding success. We must never lose sight of this ultimate goal.
In the meantime, efforts must be concentrated on finding the abducted members of the oil exploration team and ensuring their quick release and safe return to their work and families. The action taken by the NNPC and the Ministry of Petroleum authorities in suspending all exploration activities until the security situation in the affected region significantly improve is in order.
Also, our military must deploy all resources to ensure that Boko Haram’s primus interpres, Abubakar Shekau is caught dead or alive. We can no longer continue to chew the fact that the man is still alive somewhere. It is critical for our pride to ensure that Shekau is captured once and for all. The ultimatum handed to army officers to get the man by the army chief must be implemented fully. Our country must be swept clean of insurgency.