President Buhari (left) seeks dialogue with Boko Haram rebels (Image source)
Recently elected Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (pictured), who used a campaign based on fearmongering to replace the Christian dominated government of President Goodluck Jonathan with a Muslim dominated regime says that his armed forces have met the December deadline set for defeating the jihadi terror group Boko Haram and that the Islamists are no longer capable of mounting a serious attack against the Nigerian military or population centers. The oft quoted words of Mandy Raice Davis, a prostitute involved in a 1960s political scandal spring to mind. "He would say that wouldn't he?"
Buhari said "I think, technically, we have won the war, Boko Haram is an organized fighting force, I assure you, [but] we have dealt with them."
In the course of delivering a speech to present the 2016 national budget, Buhari said that Boko Haram can no longer marshal forces to attack towns or military installations as they did before, and that the Nigerian military has been reorganized and reequipped. He was careful only to reveal half the picture. While the rebels are not engaging the Nigerian military (which may be due largely to the fact that a Muslim president is in power) they are far from defeated. Boko Haram translates to "death to western education" and as we reported just before Christmas, the group are still very active in northern and eastern Nigeria and neighbouring countries, Niger, Chad, Mali and Senegal where United Nations agencies estimate thousands of schools have been closed and up to a million children forced out of education.
Ironically, on Wednesday (23 December) Boko Haram rebels carried out four attacks on villages in Niger, Chad and Cameroon, killing at least seven people including two soldiers and three civilians in Niger’s southern border town of Abadam. On the same day, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, reiterated the President’s message that the Nigerian military had met the December deadline promised by Buhari on assuming office.
"Today, I can report that the war against Boko Haram is largely won," Mohammed said to a group of journalists in Lagos.
"I can confidently say this because just recently, I led a group of 33 journalists from both the local and international media to the hot bed of the insurgency, that is, Maiduguri, Kondugua, Kaoure and Bama," he added.
"Today, I can report to you that the entire 70 plus kilometers stretch from Maiduguri to Bama and all the way to Banki which leads to Cameroun and the Central African Republic are in the hands of our gallant troops," he added. (Sarcasm alert! Wow, all of 70 kilometers (about 42 miles) in a country of 950,000 square kilometers (356,000 square miles), that really a comprehensive victory for the government
The minister also said that the Nigerian army had so degraded Boko Haram’s capabilities that the terrorists can no longer hold on to any territory or mount attacks. News reports from agencies including Reuters and Agence France-Presse (AFP) contradict this.
In mitigation of their hyperbolic claims, Nigerian officials highlighted differences between fighting a terror group and conventional warfare, since terrorists can continue launching isolated attacks even when substantially beaten. In other words, as we have always warned, when terrorist groups encounter determined resistance, they simply disperse and regroup in areas where government forces are less well organised. Unlike a war between two armies, an insureection is never ended with military victory. Even in places such as Colombia where a long lasting rebellion was officially ended decades ago, attacks are still mounted by the ideological successors of the rebels.
Mohammed admitted that in Nigeria the jihadists are directing their attacks on soft targets such as schools, parking lots and gathering places, looking to spread fear and panic by killing civilians, mostly women and children. The Boko Haram group, which pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State earlier this year, has killed tens of thousands of people during its six-year rebellion, displacing more than 2 million people in the process.
MAIN TAGS: Boko Haram >> Muslim >> Terror >> Africa
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