The attacks on Borno governor’s convoy
TWICE within the past one week, the convoy transporting the Borno State governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, has come under attack from members of the Islamic State-affiliated Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). ISWAP broke away from the original Boko Haram in 2016. While, thankfully, the governor somehow escaped unhurt on both occasions—though once, he had to endure the indignity of ducking on the floor of the vehicle in order to escape a rain of bullets from the jihadists—members of his entourage were not so lucky. According to reports in the media, fatalities from both attacks now total 12 policemen, five soldiers, four members of a government-backed militia, and nine civilians.
Last week’s attacks on the governor’s convoy were not the first. Before last week, the governor had endured two separate attacks, the most recent being the event of July 29 when the governor and his entourage were ambushed by suspected ISWAP militants as they made their way to an internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camp in the northern part of the state. The irony of the latest attacks is that they happened as Governor Zulum was returning to Maiduguri, the state capital, from Baga, “where he had accompanied hundreds of residents who returned to the town they fled in 2014 following deadly jihadist attacks.”
Amid unceasing attacks from roving bands of well-resourced jihadists determined to enthrone uncertainty and terror, Governor Zulum has tried to rally the morale of the people of the state, encouraging those who have fled their homes and villages to return. Although the governor means well, and should be saluted for his courage and indefatigability, the latest spate of attacks is unlikely to help his cause. However, while Governor Zulum seems to be doing a lot with very little, the same, unfortunately, cannot be said of the Federal Government. While the governor has repeatedly pleaded with the Federal Government for help (the latest coming in the form of a request to invite Chadian soldiers to help combat the insurgents), the response from the Federal Government has been lukewarm at best. Overall, the Federal Government seems content to repeat the same tedious trope that it has degraded the capacity of ISWAP and Boko Haram, even as evidence to the contrary mounts.
As candidate Buhari, the president campaigned on the promise that, if elected, he would move rapidly against the jihadists and exterminate them. Not only has President Buhari not kept his word, there is enough evidence to suggest that, on his watch, the security situation in the northeastern part of Nigeria has worsened, while the insurgents have gained in confidence.
The president does not have to wait until a governor is killed before he takes decisive action. As Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, he has enough resources at his disposal. He should take speedy action. Nigerians are tired of his administration’s handwringing impotence in security and other matters.
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