It’s Not Nigeria’s Fight Alone

By Umar Sa’ad Hassan

We remember former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for saying, “America will know…It’s their money” during a “Presidential Media Chat” TV programme. The statement became quite a sensation – a hilarious point of reference in depicting just how incompetent a leader he was.

Perhaps President Muhammadu Buhari means business in the war against Boko Haram and “America knows”, as it has demonstrated by the $5million pledged donation to the MJTF set up by Nigeria and its neighbours.

PMB in staying true to his campaign promise. He hit the ground running by relocating the military command centre to Maiduguri. He travelled to meet with other heads of the MJTF states in person, culminating in an extraordinary summit at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

MJTF has Nigeria as its leader (a Nigerian commander) and headquarters in Chad. Mr Lai Mohammed now has the moral right to declare anytime he so wishes that “It is not about rallying these countries together”; it is putting the union to optimal effect that matters and “America knows” this if the PDP doesn’t. We very much appear to be working hand in hand and I wouldn’t expect an outburst from the Chadian president saying they do some of our “work”, as he did sometime ago; or an uncontrollable influx of ISIS fighters from our porous borders into the Boko Haram fold. They are rumoured to be in bed with them and there couldn’t be a better time to pool resources together. It is not our fight alone. We need no soothsayer to tell us the ultimate goal of these delusional extremists: seizing the world by all means necessary.

Due credit must however go to the GEJ administration for dislodging the insurgents from numerous camps, recapturing their “caliphates”, procuring arms from other sources when America wouldn’t sell to us, and for heeding the voice of reason: obtaining external help which came in the form of almost 10,000 troops from our African brothers. Only that he was trillions of naira and many lives too late!

I remember speaking in support of SERAP’s call for a probe of how defence funds were being spent, at a public lecture in Kano. GEJ’s good calls weren’t made in good time and there is no excuse whatsoever for incompetence or, to use milder words, naivety and inexperience. To quote Og Mandino: “There is an immeasurable distance between late and too late.”

Though the capture of Marte in Borno State by the insurgents in the twilight of the Jonathan administration led to fears of resurgence of terror, their most potent means of wreaking havoc still remains suicide bombings. This is where intelligence gathering becomes an essential tool. It would be much easier to comb for bomb-making factories than monitoring sellers of the basic components.

Many of us who clamoured for the use of airstrikes long before their use have been vindicated. Insofar as the threat still exists, we must make the best use of the aerial advantage we have over the insurgents and the recent influx of funds kick-started by PMB’s $ 21million donation ensures money is not a problem. In addition to more fighter planes, we can now afford to spend on air surveillance as well. This would speed up total annihilation of the sect in no small measure.

The number of insurgents involved in the failed bid to invade Maiduguri by Boko Haram suggests there could be camps elsewhere. However, it doesn’t change the fact that their activities have been curtailed and restricted to bombings rather than outright decimation and takeover of cities and villages.

The president is not only building on what his predecessor was able to achieve, he has promptly taken more appropriate measures, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed. “America knows”.

Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano. 

Twitter : @alaye26

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