I found today’s news headlines quite disturbing. Not because it is a strange occurrence that was reported, it is moreso because this occurrence though strange and unusual in the scale of brutality has become accepted as norm in today’s Nigeria.
It is the killing of 29 (42 according to the Associated Press, AP) students and teachers of Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State.
This heinous act was committed by armed men suspected to be members of the insurgent group, popularly called Boko Haram. They have been unleashing mayhem in the Northern part of Nigeria, especially the North-East region. In this particular incident they threw explosives into the dormitories while the students slept, then gunned down those attempting to escape. Most of the bodies of the dead were found charred beyond recognition.
In the past few days they’ve concentrated their activities in Borno State, burning several Towns and killing the inhabitants, while a survivor reported that in the last attack in which about twenty girls were kidnapped from their school, soldiers were seen scampering for their lives (laying further credence to Kassim Shettima’s assertion that the Joint Military Task Force, JTF in Borno State are ill-equipped- at least not as equipped as the insurgents- and not as motivated as members of Boko Haram).
This isn’t the first time Yobe State has been thus attacked, infact it seems like this appears to be the modus operandi of the Yobe State’s branch of Boko Haram.
In responding to Kassim Shettima’s comment, President Goodluck Jonathan in the last presidential media chat held two nights ago, said it was unfortunate for a Governor to make such statements, claiming that had it not been for the JTF the governor would not have been able to stay in the Borno State House, adding a subtle threat that he may just remove the JTF for a month just so Shettima could see the difference, then return them with a military administrator for the state.
It is true that the Boko Haram elements are pursuing what could amount to guerrilla warfare using the inhabitants of the states currently under Emergency Rule as HUMAN SHIELDS, the JTF have found it very difficult curbing their activities with minimal collateral damage and this appears to have further strengthened the hands of the insurgents, leading to an almost daily report of their gruesome activities.
Interestingly, in the latest attack according to the BBC, the checkpoint close to the school was removed just days before the incident further fueling the anger of residents towards the security forces, which already have the unenviable record of finding themselves nowhere near locations of Boko Haram activities, even when such activities take place over several hours.
The only positive one can draw from the presence of the JTF is the fact that Boko Haram activities for now is restricted to the Northeast but one cannot guarantee that this situation will not escalate to involve neighbouring states in other regions, if this status remains quo ante for the nearest future.
Obviously, the approach employed by the Nigerian military and other security agencies have failed (I saw a video of the beheading of a suspected female member of the State Security Service, SSS by members of Boko Haram).
The dialogue option too may have hit the rocks as well, as the insurgents have continued to be recalcitrant towards such possibility.
An option yet remains that Nigeria may explore, and that involves taking the international community up on their promise to help, and such must go beyond mere intelligence gathering and provision of military aid, to include actual physical ‘boots on ground’ military intervention.
The recent threat by the Boko Haram leader, Malam Shekau to hit Nigeria’s economic mainstay in the Niger Delta can be sold as a plausible reason for this intervention.
The French did it for almost nothing in Mali, surely the Americans can be made to be interested regardless of opposition that may likely be from the same Northern Nigeria suffering at the hands of these insurgents presently, or even from Southerners who won’t waste a minute shouting down the possibility of the violation of Nigeria’s sovereignty by a foreign power.
Apparently, the drones just launched by Nigeria’s military aren’t effective as yet (or may be just for decoration), hence the need for American expertise to come into play in flushing out these terrorists using drones without even setting foot ‘pon our land.
Nigerians may consider this unpatriotic, but that’s the only solution I can come up with considering the situation on ground. Surely, there’d be other more sensible ones, even available to the leaders of the forces on ground. My concern is for a speedy end to this insurgency, and hopefully the bringing to book, not only of the perpetrators of the heinous acts of genocide, but of their sponsors, enablers, even logisticians.
This is to a world without Boko Haram insurgents!