The Oasis Reporters
February 11, 2018
The news caption “Boko Haram insurgency completely defeated” has been in the news recently. We have heard pronouncements prior with regards to the Boko Haram insurgency having been defeated but somehow the insurgency did manage one way or the other to prove there has always been a deficit in such claims. The latest claim may have been gleaned from a briefing not long ago by one of the theatre commanders.
What makes the latest claim interesting is the adjective “Completely”. Looking up the meaning of the adjective “completely” in a good dictionary, the nearest meaning will be either “Not limited in any way. Not requiring further work or entirely done and completed”.
Is it very possible that the reporter did not listen to exactly what may have been said regarding this issue or if he reported what was not said, upon reading this on the news bar, a retired Army General I was privileged to be sitting close to, quickly asked if the statement was true. “What then is the military still doing in the North East” ?
The General having been a practitioner in the profession of bearing arms summed up the contradictions in this claim. I am calling the entirety of the statement a claim, because it is too good to be true. From a purely professional standpoint, it is easier to defeat an enemy in a conventional war than in an insurgency for the simple reason that the opponents are engaged in asymmetric warfare. The opponent not clearly a standing force and mostly not easily identified because they do not wear uniforms by which they could easily be identified makes it the more difficult to take them out. The military knows too well the difficulty it faces in identifying the opponents in this particular conflict which is why I too have my doubts regarding the veracity of the claim. Like tha retired General rightly asked having completely defeated the insurgency what are the troops still doing in the theatre?
If the statement were true, putting it in another way one will also be correct to say that Operation Zaman Lafiya has ended.which will also mean that we should be expecting our boys back home soon.
As we sat with the retired General and a few others watching the same television, a news item reporting that Boko Haram insurgents have burnt down a village in Borno was flashed as if to refute the claim that they have been completely defeated. If this report is true it means that we are in the middle of no-mans land as to where the truth lies. I do know without having to bother going to the theatre of operations in the North East that the claim of completely defeating Boko Haram couldn’t be true. The insurgency may obviously have been defeated in a number of engagements and their ability to launch coordinated and sustained attacks largely reduced. But to say that the insurgency has been completely defeated surely has a deficit.
If the reader recalls the Tamil Tigers insurgency in Sri Lanka then one can better appreciate the nature and difficulty involved in counter insurgency operations. The Tamil tigers were organized much like a standing army and they were boxed in within the island which made it much easier to deal with militarily but even so, it took time to defeat them.
Another insurgency is that of the Farc rebels in Columbia, South America. Even with help from the Americans the Farc rebels remained a formidable opponent and remained undefeated even when they were organized as a standing army. In the end it took the power of diplomacy and negotiation for the Farc to lay down their arms.
Similarly, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) proved they were a force that was capable of embarrassing the British security forces at will. It was much easier defeating Argentina during the Falklands war even when the theatre was over 2,000 miles away than defeating the IRA.
By drawing up these comparison, I am not making a case to the effect that Boko Haram cannot be defeated. Far from it.
They can be defeated and they are well on the way to being completely defeated. Our boys are doing.a good job and more grease to their elbows.
We are simply victims of highly sensational or even reckless reporting. Of late we have had a series of rebuttals or retractions being made consequent upon false reporting. The most recent being yet another letter purported to have been penned by General Ibrahim Babangida, former self-styled president wherein they reportedly wrote that he, IBB advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek for a second term as president.
When this story got to the public domain it became clearly an embarrassment to the former Head of State. IBB had to issue a clarification as to the points of view he expressed in either the letter he allegedly wrote or the interview he may have granted. Whilst, he is entitled to hold an opinion and to express such as provided for in the Constitution, he clearly disagreed with some points of view attributed to him. The reporter deliberately did try to make hay where there was none. Further down the line, the reporter sought to link IBB’s position to that of the pontiff and letter writer in Baba Iyabo thus trying to whip cheap sentiments.
On the whole, the press does have a responsibility to ensure that those important ethics of that noble profession are in observance.
Written by Gora Dauda.
Dauda is a retired military personnel and writes from Kaduna, North West Nigeria.