Boko Haram: Demand for patriotism among Nigerians

M  UCH of the initial mysteries which beclouded Boko Haram terrorists’ operations in Nigeria have been cleared. It is now in the open how the deadly terror group acquires arms and ammunitions, how it recruits, its funding, its agents and links to other international terror sects around the world.

Boko Haram’s permeation of all segments of the Nigerian society, including the armed forces and para-military organisations is public knowledge. Intelligence experts also know of their presence in our security agencies, and their unassuming agents in the communities they most often tend to torment. Its tricks of disguised striking of targets, the manufacture of their explosive devices in some parts of the country and the extent of estrangement afflicting their residues at the moment is equally known.

However, the Nigerian state has made tremendous gains in taming Boko Haram terrorists in the country. That it has been defeated is no fresh news. And that no Nigerian territory is under their control is a story long foretold. But what has remained intriguing is the fact that agents and sympathisers of these terrorists, who have mixed and blended so perfectly with a sane society, would not desist from inducing fright campaigns.

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Tukur Buratai, is a man of few words. He believes more in action than flippancy. This much can be gleaned from his handling of the Nigerian Army and the prosecution of the anti-terrorism war in the country.

But recently, Buratai made a striking statement that was more like invoking the conscience of Nigerians and the veiled agents and sympathisers of terrorism. It was a plea to reason and be of loyalty to one’s country.

Buratai had lamented: “We need to work together and synergise together, fighting insurgency in Nigeria is a situation whereby they have melted into the society and we have some elements within the society still supporting them clandestinely.”

The Army Chief vented his spleen in an interview during a two-day seminar on Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, with the theme: “Assessing the Threat of Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria.”

Nothing can be further from the truth. It is glaring that some Nigerians have appetite for bad news, and it appears they go to bed every night, hoping to delightedly wake to confront the ugly side of the world. It is pertinent to presume that the remnants of Boko Haram terrorists occasionally tormenting Nigerians would long have been flushed, if all Nigerians were patriotic to understand that acting as agents of this cruel terror sect offends all certified standards of morality.

The feeling of the continued sponsorship of Boko Haram within was reinforced pungently with the November 4, 2016 carefully planned attacks on the Military Command Center of ”Operation Lafiya Dole” in Mallam Fatori, Borno State. The incident led to the death of five gallant soldiers of the Nigerian Army, notable among them was Lt. Col. Muhammed Abu-Ali.

Some media reports pointed to leakage of information and strongly alluded to the possibility that the terrorists’ co-ordinated attacks must have been informed by information at their disposal on the military command center on troops movement.

The timing of insurgents’ attacks and the boldness in confronting the soldiers lent credence to the suspicion that an insider must have informed the terrorists about the withdrawal of an officer and 49 combatants by the Army authorities, or reduction in the number of troops in Mallam Fatori.

But beyond such posturing, one is infinitely amazed at the manner some Nigerians celebrate Boko Haram’s atrocious outings on the people in the traditional media and cyber space. They use superlative lexicons to qualify the terrorists, inflate or exaggerate their strikes on targets, sometimes, outrightly invent their incidents of terrorists’ attacks, just to create the psychological torment that the terrorists are very present and potent in the country, much like in years past.

Ironically though, the same characters display an overt reluctance in singing songs of defeat of the terrorists by Nigerian soldiers. When terrorists’ hideouts are punctured or raided by the military, it is not worthy of their attention; when soldiers foil any bomb blast attempt, they look the other way; when terrorists captured territories are reclaimed by soldiers, it infuriates rather than gladden their hearts, and when release of hundreds of Boko Haram abductees is effected by soldiers, they plot fresh schemes to publicise fake fresh incidents of abduction by the terrorists.

When they deviate a little from this path, these same elements blatantly politicise the anti-terrorism war, castigating President Muhammadu Buhari for failure to fulfill his campaign promises to crush the insurgency within a time frame. Or they take a swipe at the Nigerian military, accusing them of feigning control over the terrorists, while it smoulders.

This is the wonderful world of Nigerians. That’s how we feel about our own country, preferring it never extricate itself from the chains of terrorists. Americans tasted the bitter pill of terrorism before Nigerians, with the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. America itself is yet to absolutely free itself from terrorists’ yoke. But hardly do we read acerbic comments from Americans which bear any imprint denoting support for the terrorists.

But wishes can never be horses; if they were horses, beggars too would ride. When General Buratai emerged on the scene of the terror war as COAS and bent on ending insurgency as directed by President Buhari, most Nigerians doubted him. He was not given a chance to prove himself. But today, he has proven that Nigerian soldiers under his leadership can do more than crush the terrorists.

Let these veiled agents bow to the power of conscience by openly appreciating Buratai and Nigerian soldiers for this rare feat of gallantry. Had his predecessors done an inch of what he has accomplished in the terror war, Nigeria would have buried the terrorists long before the arrival of Buhari.

  • Raheem, a public affairs analyst, writes from Kaduna State.