Nigeria

Boko Haram: For many reasons, we are seemingly losing the war but peddling rhetorics is worse among them

Fresh off the controversy that followed a statement made by Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed on a visit to Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, where he was reported to have said, “Nigeria has made attempts to acquire better and more effective platforms to deal with terrorists and for one reason or the other we have been denied these platforms, and without these weapons and adequate platforms, we will remain at the mercy of terrorists,” the minister has not lost the steam fueling his endless roll. Today’s oddball remark is him saying that Boko Haram, “go after soft targets to stay relevant.”

The soft targets he speaks of are no less than 43 farmers who live in a village caught between insurgents and army operation, and who have been so brave in cooperating with the Nigerian Army that they became a target of retaliatory violence. House of Representatives member, Ahmed Satomi, told Premium Times that the farmers “were attacked because they had on Friday disarmed and arrested a Boko Haram gunman who had been tormenting them.”

In tuesday’s press conference, which he addressed in Lagos, the minister said that he did not say Nigeria is at the mercy of Boko Haram as widely reported, stressing that he only said, “Nigeria needs the support of global partners, especially in the area of acquisition of effective platforms to deal with terrorists.”

There is a sense of irony that seems lost on Lai Mohammed, which is that while attempting to clear the air on what he had enough time to acknowledge is major gaffe he went on to make an even bigger gaffe. In no reality, except the warped one occupied by Lai Mohammed, his principal Maj. Gen. Buhari Rtd.), and his colleagues in the present administration, is it okay to speak of the citizens the president is sworn to protect as “soft targets.”

For starters, there should be no soft targets for acts of terrorism on any citizen in Nigeria. It is not apparent whether this is a fact that has the potential to seep into the Buhari administration’s alternative reality, because the administration continues to do everything to point to the contrary.

News of terrorist attacks on defenceless citizens who depend on the government for the security of life and property as well the very armed institute meant to give that protection – the army, has continued to come out of the North-West. It has been five years since Lai Mohammed’s infamous bold claim that “Boko haram is technically defeated.” 

He came out after four years of unabated terror to still make bold to say “I stand by what I said that Boko Haram is technically defeated,” adding that, “what we are having today is global terrorism where you have the ISIS, ISWAP, Al-qa’eda all working together.” It appears he is sticking to this particular rhetoric because he maintained the same in his recent press conference.

However, even as far back as last year that spurious claim didn’t hold in the real world for very long. In September 2019 alone, claimed multiple lives of civilian militiamen as well as soldiers.

Perhaps – if this remains unclear to this administration despite its having been said often enough, it is time to drop the rhetorics and do the needful ‘hard work’ of parting with some of the monies the ruling class is hellbent on embezzling and channeling them to securing the nation. But it is herculean to even imagine the Buhari-led government ditching its favourite tool of ‘governance’ – repression, and governing.

Just today a court-martial has demoted Olusegun Adeniyi, a major-general formerly leading Operation Lafiya Dole over a viral video of him complaining about lack of weapons for troops fighting the Boko Haram insurgency.

Another soldier, Adeniyi’s military aide, Tokunbo Obanla, has been sentenced to 28 days in jail with hard labour. The sentencing remains subject to confirmation by the military board.

The writing on the wall is not fully clear because the administration through its spokesman continues to speak from both sides of the mouth. What is unmistakable as it stands is the desperate and quite embarrassing attempt by the administration to downplay the extent of terror the country faces daily under its stewardship, and its failure to provide even the bare minimum for the citizenry – security, which he campaigned as its cardinal objective if elected to office.

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