• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

Protesting wives, strategic military maneuvers and Gwoza Caliphate

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Goat don kill lion, water don pass garri!(Sunny Nneji, Nigerian Musician). Yes, it is unthinkable when a goat defeats a lion! It doesn’t add up, unless another vicious animal had disguised as a goat or that the other animal was not a lion after all! The unfortunate invasion of our country by a one-man Ebola squad from Liberia has almost distracted us from the happenings in the North East where the Bokoharamists are occupying territories, hoisting flags and demystifying our brave soldiers. There has been a lot of claims and counterclaims, but we learnt during the Biafran that whenever the soldiers said that the situation was under control, it means that, at least, there was a ‘situation! The BH operatives started as a group of cowardly hit-and-run RATARM (rag tag army), involved mostly in suicide bombing and who were not heard. They have transformed into a deadly and boastful fellows who plant bombs and escape from the scenes, who hit and refuse to run and now embarrass the nation by easily putting our soldiers to flight. How come the goat is defeating or appears to be defeating the lion? Is it a masquerade affair in which others are masquerading as goats and lions? We are used to terrorists and local criminals overrunning our police-posts. But when they start overrunning our military facilities, then, there is need to scan the environment, reevaluate and restrategise.

Some months ago, the President declared that his government had been infiltrated by BH sympathizers. This was followed by several retirements and re-postings in the military, security and intelligence architecture. There has also been increasing budgetary allocation to security operations and a lot of visible efforts- trainings, consultations and declarations. But…..  We all recall the brazen attack on the air force base/airport in Maiduguri. We also recall the circumstances under which the Chibok girls were taken in an operation that lasted several hours. Initially, I thought that there were no soldiers around. But eventually, the military authorities informed that the soldiers were outgunned and that the reinforcement either missed their way or did not arrive on time. Why did they not continue in pursuit of a group that had such an unwieldy human cargoes with ramshackle trucks that broke down here and there and the captives had to be trans-loaded? We have also heard many stories of soldiers fleeing and abandoning tanks, amours and provisions. Some have actually suspected that these are ‘arrangee’ affairs! But recent developments have been more worrisome!

In the first instance, we heard that some soldiers protested-mutiny in military parlance- and were reluctant to go and face ‘better-equipped’ BH fighters. While that was in the realms of rumours and speculations, the Maiduguri womens’ riot was in the open! The women protested against the deployment of their husbands and literarily blocked the doors and gates against the movement of the soldiers. It is bad if the soldiers were being sent to the warfront ‘ill-equipped’ but soldiers or their wives who protest because of likely death in the warfronts are like professional mourners protesting about the quantum of tears they would shed at funerals. Any person who signs to become a soldier knows that beyond the starchy uniforms and the impunity it confers in Nigeria, they have signed a pact with death in the course of duty. During the war, we used to sing that ‘nne muru soja o jighi nwa’( a soldiers mother is childless). That is the sad and unfortunate truth.

Then the bokoharamites had the audacity to capture Gwoza, hoist their flags and declare it a caliphate probably with Shekau as the Caliph! They attacked Gambouri and our soldiers fled, leaving for them, the quantum of arms that is beyond their imagination. Some of our fleeing soldiers found themselves in Cameroun but we were told that it was a strategic maneuver, just as another group recently did from the warfront in Banki.  Some of our police men are still missing after the sacking of the MOPOL training school in Gwoza. As at the end of August, the terrorists were in control of 15 towns including Gamboru, Madagali, Pulka, Wulgo, Marte, Kirenoa, Limankra, Banki, Kirawaa, Bunu-Yadi, Goniri and had converted the palace of the emir of Gwoza into their operational HQ(.. Guardian, 30/8/14, p11). Now there is a fierce battle for the soul of Adamawa and Borno states.  As at 11/9/14.the military authorities have assured us that the situation is under control, that Mubi, Gwoza, Bama, Gulak and Michika have been ‘stabilised’, that  Mararaba, Uba, and Bazza have also been recaptured, and that there is no cause for alarm. But, I am already alarmed! It has now come to a situation where the invaders would ‘score first’ while we struggle to get even!

The military authorities had continuously explained that they were incapacitated because it was a guerilla warfare which is both different and difficult because our soldiers were not used to that. Now, it is a face-to-face, fire for fire affair and yet, these blood-thirsty demons are still moving with a confounding audacity. As the Commander in Chief of our armed forces President Jonathan must get to the roots of this national embarrassment. What exactly is wrong with our soldiers and their firepower? How come that the feared and famed Nigerian soldiers that have performed victoriously in various multinational engagements across the globe are now fleeing with their tails between their legs? Is it lack of arms, ammunition and equipment, motivation, and training; indiscipline, politics, sabotage  or is the Peter Principle at work? President Jonathan and the security/intelligence chiefs must ascertain what is wrong and act accordingly

Meanwhile, a madness that extends to the nkwo market has graduated from infancy to advanced levels! This BH affair is no longer the type of race in which a woman has the luxury of holding her breasts to prevent it from flapping indiscriminately. And a woman who decides to wrestle with a man knows that no part of her body is off-limits in the combat. What is happening now is a full scale war and we should treat it as such. Civilians should be cleared from the war zone; the air force should be ready to strafe these BH Toyota-Hilux convoys and the infamous  Sambisa forest should be demystified through military operations.

Back to Sunny Nneji and his music, part of the lyrics is ‘if I de run before, I no go run again; if you do me I go do you’!  That was the track that Olusegun Obasanjo liked so much! Our soldiers should resolve not to run again and should indeed drive the ‘crazy baldheads’ out of here. If we don’t declare a fully fledged war and take the battle to them, nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. After all, it just started as occasional suicide bombs. This is our own share of the proliferation of universal terrorism that manifested on 9/11(11/9/11), the 13th anniversary of which was celebrated last week. And while we need to collaborate with the rest of the world, every country is now involved with different manifestations of the devil set lose: Alqueda, ISIS, Al-Shabab Talibans or BH. So this is basically our own war; we have to bear our own cross….

Ik Muo