Boko Haram: The Case of the Ostrich and the Nigerian Military
For some time now elements of the Nigeria Army seem to be on the defensive as reports from the field have been about troops repelling attacks by Boko haram and sometimes armed herdsmen and bandits.
The latest in a string of apparent repelling of enemy combatants from military bases and communities in the Northeast came about in the wake of news that Boko haram had overrun the strategic cross-roads town of Gudumbali strategic to the supply of Nigerian Troops fighting in the North-east.
The reports had further suggested that there were quite minimal civilian casualties but a huge number of losses of men and material by the Nigerian military; the insurgents had asked the civilians to pack up and leave, they weren’t the targets civilians who escaped said.
The story was carried by herald on the 8th of September, see here
It was also carried on major news sites and foreign media as well as military experts on social media with independent verifiable sources while the Nigerian military could not clarify the situation for hours.
This seems to be an embarrassment for the so called ‘best’ land based army in Africa who always come up with a story of ‘repelling attacks right after news of defeats leak to the public.
Therefore as expected, the Nigerian military issued a statement today saying its troops repelled an attack on Gudumbali after the insurgents had invaded the town to ‘extort’ and ‘terrorise’ residents besides carrying out an attack on the military base.
The Nigerian Military further said Boko haram suffered ‘overwhelming casualties’ in the failed attack and they had fled to the fringes of Lake Chad.
This is the propaganda the Nigerian military uses to cover its failure yet again as it is forced to go on the defensive by a supposedly ‘technically’ defeated enemy.
What the Nigerian Military failed to announce was the fact that there is an ongoing military operation ongoing to retake Gudumbali from Boko haram in order to save face and cover their shame.
The Ostrich is a rather large Bird that is so strong it could kill a man with a single kick or by trampling. Its major features include its flightless feathers, its speed and its signature long and bald neck.
One of the known behaviours of the ostrich is that its neck is often down in the grasses, oblivious of events happening around it; this makes it easy for hunters and predators alike to stalk and kill the bird from behind while its head is down.
Although the head of the ostrich is down because it is looking for berries and plants below, local proverbs often attribute this behaviour to the ostrich’s belief that by hiding its head in the sand, it becomes invisible and its enemies will ‘go away’.
Towards the end of 2014 and the whole of 2015, the Nigerian military reversed gains made by Boko haram in the Northeast, pushing back the insurgent group from towns and communities it had occupied at the Zenith of the insurgency in 2013 – 2014. By the time the Government of Muhammadu Buhari took over power in 2015, the situation was greatly improved continuing this way until 2018.
As the military onslaught against Boko haram intensified, a split happened within the group with one faction loyal to its long time leader, Abubakar Shekau and the other to Abuabakar Al-Banarwi who thereafter pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. This faction of Boko haram then came to be known as Islamic State West Africa with links to militants in Libya, the Sudan, Mali and the Lake Chad basin.
By December 2017, International news sources had been alerting the Nigerian Military of the infiltration of Islamic State Militants fresh from the onslaught in Iraq and Syria to the Lake Chad region, numbering about 3000 fighters and growing at the time. The Nigerian military denounced the reports as ‘fake’ news and told the public not to be alarmed.
At this time, the herdsmen onslaught started in the middle-belt and the Nigerian Government declared that Boko haram had been ‘technically’ defeated and was incapable of carrying out large scale attacks having been put to flight by the Nigerian military; and just when Nigerians thought things were returning to normal the worst started to unravel.
From this moment Nigerian military positions began to come under intense attacks from burning of military outposts to ambush attacks on Nigerian troops on assault missions against what was thought by the public to be the remnants of the ‘technically’ defeated Boko haram insurgents.
Internally Displaced Persons Camps were also not spared neither were United Nations and NEMA personnel spared in the attacks as the Nigerian government and military continue to deny and downplay the attacks against its personnel.
The integral question one has to ask is how long can the Nigerian military hierarchy and its government keep up its game of ostrich while it continues to lose men and materiel to a resurging Boko haram populated by foreign, experienced fighters who have fought against the Russians, Iraqis, Syrians and Iranians and now they are on Nigerian soil face to face with the Nigerian military. In the ongoing assault to take back Gudumbali, sources reported about 15 to 20 Islamic state fighters killed in battle.
Will the Presidency be humble enough to swallow a bitter pill and tell Nigerians the truth? Will Buhari, Lai Mohammed his master spinner admit that Boko haram has not been degraded as previously believed, that Boko haram is back and this is the time for all Nigerian to support the military to defeat the insurgents once and for all?
It is time Nigerians are told the truth about the dangers we collectively face as a Nation rather than have Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina lie blatantly to the country on Channels Sunrise daily laying the blame for the situation of the country on the footstep of everybody else except the supposed Commander in Chief.
It will be a great sin on the souls of those who have sacrificed their lives for this nation to die in vain because a sitting President and former Army General refuses to acknowledge the truth and stop playing the ostrich.
God Bless the Nigeria Army and give our soldiers victory on the battlefield, God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.