By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – In warfare, the best strategy is to identify the strength of the enemy and weaken it. The enemy must be weakened to a point of surrender or where it absconds from the fight due to its inability to match up in force. This can be achieved by blocking the enemy’s channels of supply or access to weapons, funding, food, information and manpower.
With hindsight, it will be a folly to empower the enemy by allowing it access to these aforementioned needs and logistics. By doing this, the enemy is well positioned to prosecute the war for longer duration and better armed to launch further devastating attacks.
The latter appears to be what is playing out in Nigeria with the Boko Haram menace.
Since 2014, Boko Haram has unleashed terror in Nigeria especially in the North east; killing, maiming, kidnapping, amputating, raping and in some cases destroying houses and properties of their victims. Though a lot is being said about what the government through the security forces and Nigerians are doing to curtail the avoidable disaster perpetuated by the insurgents.
Within the last four years, government has praised herself to high heavens as having degraded Boko Haram. However, some of these accolades appear deceptive as the acclaimed degradation is more of innuendoes and make believe. But before the brag from government settles, Boko Haram would have launched a more deadly blow than before. In some cases they invade barracks and police stations, kill some officers and cart away arms and ammunition.
It is common knowledge and internationally agreed standard that you don’t negotiate with terrorists and when you do, in extreme cases, you negotiate from the point of strength not on account of weakness.
Nigeria has no reason to pay ransoms to a supposedly ‘degraded’ Boko Haram in addition to releasing their commanders in custody before a handful of abducted girls are released. It is a misplacement and misapplication of strategy.
However, it appears we should at this point pause and ponder because we have in the recent past funded Boko Haram more in logistics and ingredients of warfare-prosecution than we have starved it of the basic necessities required to carry on. Apparently, the government through its actions and inactions has contributed more to the protraction of the attacks by the insurgents.
Come with me:
“According to the Wall Street Journal of December 4, 2017, as a reward for releasing 84 Chibok girls, the Buhari government paid Boko Haram a €2 million ransom, which adds up about N705 million. In addition to paying the group 705 million naira in 2017, five notoriously vicious Boko Haram commanders in the custody of Nigerian authorities were released.
Also, the London Guardian of October 14, 2016 reported that in October 2016, the government paid the terrorist group what it called a “‘handsome ransom’ worth millions of dollars” in exchange for the release of 21 Chibok girls.
Again on February 11, 2018, the government paid Boko Haram an unspecified amount of money to free 13 hostages. Prior to that, precisely on January 15, 2018, the government freed 244 alleged “repentant” Boko Haram members.
These ‘handsome ransom’ being paid to Boko Haram, unknown to us, is a sufficient funding and the release of its kingpins also adds or restores backs its numerical manpower to further advance their insurgency course.
The dire implication of this is that it will become their (Boko Haram) sole strategy to continuously milk financial rewards from the government to the point where they become too rich and powerful to be stopped. These funds will help boost their arsenal and ability to always recruit.
Recall that the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj.-Gen. Rogers Nicholas while presenting the released Boko Haram detainees to Gov. Kashim Shettima at the Military Cemetery, Maimalari cantonment, Maiduguri on behalf of Chief Army Staff, said they were released as part of activities to commemorate the 2018 Armed Forces Remembrance Day. (Vanguard 15, 2018).
One wonders when releasing alleged ‘repentant’ Boko Haram members become part of activities to commemorate the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, while some awaiting-trial in our prisons for minor offences have served more years than would have been the case had they been prosecuted. It now appears easier for radicalised Boko Haram members to repent and get released than awaiting-trial inmates who may have only stolen petty things as a result of acute hunger.
This is the time for the government and Nigerians to become decisive in this war against Boko Haram, especially as it begin to seem like an ever rekindling fire.
To effectively break them to the point of surrender, our troops should focus on blocking their channels of communication, food supplies, access to arms and ammunition, manpower, and most importantly, the government must review its policy of strengthening the insurgents through the payment of financial ransoms and release of their commanders who will further endanger the country with their gut and experience.