After a plethora of hashtags, #BringBackOurGirls, protests, sit-ins and international coverage, the Nigerian Army, once regarded as Africa’s best ground force, has failed to tame the terrorist group Boko Haram.
The group, now with two factions operates largely across the North Eastern part of the country. When President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn into power in 2015, part of his campaign promises was the defeat of Boko Haram. Few years later, he announced the terrorist group had been “technically defeated”.
Part of the reasons Nigerians had voted in President Buhari was because of his military background. But a failing army, and an air force that bombed a camp of internally displaced persons has not been encouraging news to Nigerians. Despite the failure of the defence chiefs of the three arms of the armed forces, President Buhari has failed to take drastic actions, not even the sacking of the defence chiefs, amid calls from critics and members of the public to this end.
The Defence Headquarters has noted with dismay an Online Article by “Wall Street Journal” purporting that the Nigerian Military maintains secret graveyards in the North East theatre of operation.
— DEFENCE HQ NIGERIA (@DefenceInfoNG) August 1, 2019
Recent reports on the happenings at the theatre of war have also not been covered by local Nigerian media. A deliberate strategy to stop news of the war flowing to the public has been used. Nigerians now depend on foreign media for news on what is happening in the war against Boko Haram.
A recent report by the Wall Street Journal said, “while President says war against Islamist insurgency is won, army conceals toll in unmarked graves.” The report has led to wide outrage on social media. The Nigerian Defence Headquarter, through its Twitter handle in response to the report by Wall Street Journal said, “Therefore, it must be unambigously clarified that the Armed Forces of Nigeria does not indulge in secret burials, as it is sacrilegious and a profanity to extant ethos and traditions of the Nigerian military”.
A BBC report explaining Boko Haram’s decade terror stated that between 2013 and 2015 the terrorist group killed more than 11, 000 people. The terrorist group is predicted to continue operations for another decade, if the seemingly lacklustre approach continues. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Western military officials say the Nigerian army is stretched so thin that its top brass are no longer talking seriously about defeating the insurgency, merely containing it”.
With the rise of other conflicts, particularly the Fulani crisis, which has seen an increase in armed banditry along Nigeria’s highways, and the proscription of the Shi‘ite group the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Nigeria is facing some of its greatest security challenges amidst deep corruption and a failed system.