If the renewed war against terrorism and insurgency by the Muhammadu Buhari administration is to succeed, complacency and indiscipline must never be tolerated. That is why we are alarmed at the high number of civilians, especially women and children, killed in the recent attack on Dalori – a village said to be only four kilometres from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, and the epicentre of the counter-insurgency operations of our military.
By reliable accounts, over 86 people lost their lives and about 70 others were wounded and now receiving treatment in hospitals. This latest attack is particularly sad and worrisome. How, for instance, were the Boko Haram insurgents able to launch an attack so close to the heart of our military operations, and were unchallenged for so many hours, with attendant heavy casualties? One thing that is sure is that the level of alertness and responsiveness so far exhibited by our military is below par. It must be increased, even in these supposedly dying days of the insurgency.
If we know anything by now, it is that Boko Haram will not be easily defeated and will continue to do anything to frustrate the best efforts of our military and the government. Our military must, therefore, never rest on its oars until the insurgents are totally routed.
Since the Buhari administration has made the defeat of insurgency in the North – East one of its cardinal programmes, it must be able to change tactics and strategies as become necessary. This point, with due respect to our gallant military, remains a sore one. Why do we appear to be reacting, most times, after the damage is done? Where was our military when these Boko Haram elements infiltrated the village of Dalori, so close to Maiduguri and were able to operate for many hours unchallenged? Why were they able to inflict so much pain and destruction, even at a time of utmost mobilisation and focus on ending the insurgency that has devastated the region for so long and left a big scar on the conscience of the nation?
We think our military authorities need to go back to the basics. More emphasis should be placed on intelligence gathering and proactive actions to preempt attacks, as well as quick responses to onslaughts from the insurgents, wherever they occur. We are encouraged by the copious successes of our military in this very arduous assignment to decimate the Boko Haram. We have also observed the heightened efforts at citizen-engagement and information sharing, which have alerted the nation to the new tactics of the insurgents. However, a lot more still needs to be done to stop attacks. When attacks are carried out on the scale of the recent Dalori experience, it leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
If better training in specialised areas is required anywhere in the world for our military, we should not hesitate to get it. The earlier our government and the military wake up to the reality that we must put everything that is required into this war, the better for the country. All our citizens, and not just those in the hot-beds of the insurgency, must play their part too. We all have responsibility to support our military with the right and timely intelligence, and to cooperate in every other way required of us.
It is worrisome that after the many years of this insurgency, we are still unable to successfully infiltrate the sect. Until this is done and we are able to preempt attacks and strike at Boko Haram’s innermost recesses, we are afraid that no amount of the deployment of military resources would completely defeat the insurgency.
We urge government to remain focused. We are disturbed that past allegations of collaboration and sponsorship of Boko Haram made against some public figures have not been fully investigated and brought to closure in the court of public opinion. It is necessary that government does this to demonstrate its seriousness and to earn the confidence and cooperation of the people on the prosecution of the war.