Sad as it is to say, there is a sense of déjà vu in the upsurge of attacks by the militant Boko Haram sect in the past few months. Under the immediate past administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the insurgents had a field day hitting soft targets where hundreds of innocent civilians were usually at risk.
Worship places all over Nigeria but most especially in the north eastern part of the country got deserted by the day such that those who attended were people who had made a final settlement with their Creator. Hundreds of lives were lost in suicide bomb attacks on churches, mosques, market places and even the United Nations building in Abuja. But this was after the federal capital territory; Abuja was hit on October 1, 2010.
One Monday morning in April 2014, Boko Haram detonated explosives hidden inside vehicles during morning rush hour at a bus station in Nyanya on the outskirts of Abuja. About 88 people died in that incident. Two weeks later, another car bomb would explode in New Nyanya, a town in Nasarawa State, Nigeria killing 19 people.
As pocket of attacks went on, the group got increasingly bold, snatching territories from the country and hoisting their flags. Before the aggressive incursion of the Nigerian Armed Forces early this year, this country was said to have lost about 30 local governments in the three states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. But between January and March this year, most of those territories were regained by Nigerian soldiers when they went all out against the insurgents preparatory to the 2015 general elections.
Unfortunately, the country seems to be journeying on the same old track currently. Between the end of May when President Muhammadu Buhari took office and now, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) reported, recently, that 1,700 Nigerians have lost their lives in the hands of the insurgents. In the past couple of months, attacks on worship places, (especially mosques, which puts a lie to the claim that this group fights for Islam), government offices, market places and bus stations have been on the increase. As a matter of fact, the group once again visited Nyaya 24 days ago leaving sorrow, tears and blood in their trail. They also hit Kuje, another satellite town of the FCT on the same day.
Unfortunately, the Federal Government has reacted in no way different from what got Nigerians totally disenchanted with Jonathan’s administration. Oh well, maybe that is not totally correct as PMB insists that we will no longer hear the name Boko Haram after December 2015, although the manifestation of that promise seems very unlikely except the President has some remote device with which he hopes to wipe the sect out of existence in two months.
But nothing gives such indication at the moment. This administration has pretty much followed the same route that Jonathan took, methods which Buhari and his All Progressive Party lampooned just few months back. As a matter of fact, the APC whose government now appears totally out of its depth helped Nigerians decide to kick Jonathan out of office by portraying the government as totally deprived of ideas on this front. But in the last few months, we have seen the same apathetic issuances of condolences, visits to victims, promises to foot hospital bills and more promises to deal with the perpetrators of these evils just like Jonathan.
In March this year, the Jonathan administration was accused of hiring mercenaries from South African to defeat the Boko Haram; the government denied it. Just this last week, THISDAY reported that this administration was traveling the same lane but pronto, we got a denial from defence headquarters. Let us hope that this denial is the truth and nothing but the truth because thinking about it, what is the sense in hiring mercenaries to fight a war in which your opponent knows its weakness and has designed ways in which the most innocent and defenseless of your people would pay the supreme price. Wouldn’t a country benefit better investing in intelligence and possibly finding some political solutions to this matter and save the lives of millions of Nigerians?
President Buhari has done quite a bit including a fair share of international shuttling, in addition to appointing obviously round pegs into the round hole of the military high command, but this is sure time for some creativity in this war. And the President should know that just like public confidence gradually eroded in the former President Jonathan, Nigerians are getting justifiably impatient. May God help PMB.