Another Deadline, Another Dead End: Boko Haram’s Turn

Nigeria has had many deadlines foist upon its public through its chiefs governmental agencies as a show of commitment or as a precursor to a privatisation. Deadlines have been set by successive presidents as a test point for the management and performance, mostly in the electric power and the oil and gas sectors. However, there is a now a radically new deadline set by the president; the terrorist group that has continuously humiliated the Nigerian state for years, Boko Haram, will be completely annihilated by the Nigerian armed forces in December 2015. This is an order issued to the Nigerian military chiefs by President Muhammadu Buhari. Again?

It is the duty of a President who is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces to ensure that the military under his or her control defeats or repels any internal or external military threats, real or imagined. A run down military with a negative sum morale cannot win any wars for their Commander-in-Chief no matter the deadlines set and even with the best of wills. Setting deadlines is at best a “plea” for patience from the public. It requires no skill, audacity or leadership to beg for the public to be patient; it is begging after all. No “change” in the direction apparently.

There are never any deadlines set to bring an to corruption in Nigeria even though it is a truism that it is Nigeria biggest social problem, bigger than persistent (electricity) blackouts, the underperformance of refineries and fuel scarcity, backward infrastructure, derisory human development, all combined. However, the matter of the moment for President Buhari is Boko Haram. Why not? It is a most expedient declaration. By habit Nigerians do no take deadlines set by their democratically elected presidents and other politicians seriously because they have always turned out routinely to be dead ends.

If Boko Haram is eliminated completely what happens after that? Seriously! Will the GDP of Nigeria go up in the short or medium term? Will the number of jobs that give a living in the economy increase significantly? Will health care provisions improve impressively? Will the quality of primary, secondary and tertiary education in the country go up? Will the formal sector grow steadily or rapidly at the expense of a shrinking informal sector? Will Nigerians have constant electricity supplied to their houses and businesses? Defeating Boko haram will not answer any of these questions with positive outcomes. However, if corruption was eliminated it would answer all the questions with positive outcomes.

The solutions to the despair borne of social deprivation and dehumanisation that makes people to keenly support Boko Haram even at the risk of facing the death penalty has not even been attempted by President Buhari. Improve the socio-economic conditions significantly in the areas Boko Haram have strongholds and the insurgents will pack their bags and go without firing a bullet. Insurgents understand very well that the people who support them only do so because they are an outlet of expression for their despair, every attack against the state is rewarding to those people. This is by no means a justification for Boko Haram or the people who support them. Terrorism is totally wrong and must be defeated wherever it exists. Taking the easy route to tackling terrorism is not worth the effort though.

Well, the “Giant of Africa” will be depending on the military prowess of neighbouring countries they consider to be “minnows” for major help in eliminating Boko Haram conclusively. Fighting and defeating men that have nothing to lose is always difficult when your army is paid to fight. It is even much worse when you are up against men who believe that they have everything to gain fighting you and dying in the process, like many Islamic terrorist groups do.

By December 2015 we shall see if Boko Haram is completely eliminated. Another deadline, another dead end, and the deadline always passes by.

Grimot Nane

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