One issue that we will, probably, never totally understand in this country is the Boko Haram insurgency and the war against it.
As the days go by, it gets more confounding and impossible to understand. Less than a fortnight ago, we were celebrating the capture of Camp Zero, the part of Sambisa Forest which headquartered the operations of the insurgents.
Given what it meant to the promise of President Muhammadu Buhari to defeat Boko Haram by December 2015, that the event came 12 months in arrears did not detract from the symbolism of Operation Lafiya Dole’s incursion into the dreaded Sambisa forest.
So as a testament to the capture of the home of top Boko Haram leaders, the army displayed the flag of the extremist Islamic group and the Quran which was said to belong to the Boko Haram leader both of which were recovered from the Camp Zero to us all.
The “spoil” of war would, days later, be presented to Buhari by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai. The Commander in Chief could not hide his joy.
But with the crumble of Sambisa Forest came the very bothersome non-recovery of the 219 remaining girls kidnapped from their Chibok, Borno State secondary school, well over 1,000 days ago!
I mean, we had almost total assurance that the girls were being held somewhere around this Sambisa forest. This impression was reinforced by testimonies of some of the girls whohad been rescued so that Sambisa forest fell without the military finding the girls is an irreconcilable mystery.
It is also curious that even after the negotiations that resulted in the release of 21 of the girls in October last year, the insurgents continue to strike at soft targets, killing, maiming and causing panic all over the land. Just on Friday, nine people, including three female suicide bombers, one of them with a baby strapped to her back, died in an attack on Madagali, a town in Adamawa State. Two days before that, the Army announced that the bodies of one officer and fifteen soldiers, previously declared missing were found dead in a major river northeast of the country.
Here is where I get confused; if we could negotiate to get 21 of the girls back, why can we not negotiate to get the others? This gets more probing especially as government insisted that these girls were returned virtually gratis- no money paid, no prisoners exchanged, only perspiration from long – all day, possibly all night meetings expended. So why can’t we just negotiate the release of these girls and save their parents, loved ones and millions of people all over the world who worry about them from the unnecessary anxiety that comes with every extra day we have no news about them.
In addition to that, why don’t we negotiate this crisis out of existence? It is good that we have won the territorial war against the insurgents such that they cannot hoist flags in any part of the country at the moment but what about the frequent attacks on innocent citizens that we do not readily have answers for? What about the frightening news that these men, in scampering for safety from the northeastern part of the country have now set down roots across the country? Does the nation have the intelligence to deal with the trouble that all of this means?
Since we were able to sit at the table with them once, why not do same again and put a total end to this intractable war? After all, the army recently sent hundreds of “repentant” members of the sect home. Couldn’t we just put an end to all of this on the table? Or is there something to gain from allowing the scourge spread across the country? I am totally confused.
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