Sorry the title is misleading. I just needed your attention. It’s not spelt Sanussi. It’s Sanusi.
Now that I have it for a few minutes, let me share this.
Last year, I hosted a guy in my office who had just returned from a one year posting with the Joint Task Force Operation in Borno State. I knew him quite well, having worked with him the previous year on some community based issues.
He appeared in the office with his official uniform, something close to the camo worn during the operation desert storm. He however looked quite frazzled and I asked what the matter was to his surprised that I noticed. I eventually discovered that he had gone through a lot in the heat of the battle against the Boko Haram insurgents.
Wanting more evidence on what he had gone through, he brought out his phone and proceeded to walk me through horrifying pictures of absolute carnage. He suddenly looked like a ghost to me because I couldn’t imagine how he managed to survive such intense fighting. He said to me something like this “Oga, we kill them, kill them, kill them tire.” When I asked how many Nigerian military men he had seen killed in action, he admit that several were killed but because they were more equipped, Boko Haram usually suffered heavier losses during battles. He noted that a lot of these insurgents were not Nigerians but from Niger and probably Chad.
He then stated that when it comes to the real battle, our military men have basically decimated the Boko Haram fighters. So their new tactic is hit-and-run; they attack vulnerable sites through very tortuous paths around the massive borders between Nigeria and Niger/Chad/Northern Cameroon. When I took a look at the terrain on google earth, I immediately understood why the Russians couldn’t defeat the Taliban despite being overwhelmingly better armed.
In this light, It saddens me to read people bash the government for not doing enough and for claiming that Boko Haram is better equipped. I understand that people must voice their concerns. But disparaging the government and discrediting their efforts is exactly what these terrorist intend as an end; destroy the internal validity of the government. Unfortunately, most Nigerians have no idea of the nature of the war. Rather than abuse the government, it might be better for us to quit our jobs and volunteer to carry arms to increase the boots on ground. We can even decide to form militia groups to protect civilian settlements.
According to 2013 statistics, Nigeria has 130,000 Active Frontline Personnel (AFP) and 32,000 Active Reserve Personnel (ARP). If you combine all, it comes to 162,000 members of the forces. You can basically squeeze them all into two Local Government Areas in Borno State and they will still have challenges covering the entire LGAs against insurgents.
We can all see how Hamid Karzai is letting the world know that unless Pakistan is willing to cooperate in displacing the Taliban from their territory, Afghanistan cannot win the war against them. Similarly, to asphyxiate Boko Haram, it will take a multi-state solution. Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon must commit to deploying resources to erasing every trace of Boko Haram activities within their territories (something Nigeria has impressively done, less the sporadic attacks).
Unfortunately, we have to presently deal with the reality of a hit-and-run strategy by these satanic elements. All vulnerable communities must become alert, armed and ready to fight back seeing how small a military force we have to effectively cover all possible routes of attacks. I also don’t think Nigeria should be too proud to ask foreign governments for help with sophisticated surveillance equipment ,with remote striking capabilities. This is the only way surgical strikes can be carried out and Boko Haram sufficiently weakened.
Since we are also fighting against a warped ideology, we must consequently be ready for the next phase of terrorism, which will be suicide bombings. This is where citizen action becomes imperative. If you have friends and family that are already courting extremist ideas, you should note it and keep a close watch on them. Report to the Intelligence Agencies so due monitoring can be done.
Finally, we should not assume that it is only in the North that terrorism will remain, so we better start blocking those channels through which citizens can become subscribed to a wrong ideology. We must invest in mental health for our citizens. Some people walking around are a time or situational bomb waiting for the right conditions to explode, while taking many with them.
Not too long ago, we read in papers and watched on TV how terrorists were plying their trade in far countries. Today, our system is trying to play catch up. Tomorrow will not be difficult to predict if we follow the trajectory of insanity, as it so often easily provides us the signals.