"The moment we [Africans] lost our languages was also the moment we lost our bodies, our gold, diamonds, copper, coffee, tea." - Ngugi wa Thiong'o

How not to fight and defeat Boko Haram

But first, let’s try answering this question. Who are the members of Boko Haram? Well, Nigerian government describe Boko Haram as a faceless terrorist organisation.

Yes; they are faceless with the exception of Abubakar Shekau who is the leader and the face of Boko Haram. He is the only known member of the Islamic sect.

Abubakar was born in Niger Republic but claim to be a Nigerian though a Kanuri of the old Bornu Empire (Chad, Niger and part of Cameroon). He’s one of those people from Nigeria neighbouring countries that the Northerners have always used to augment their population figures during census and elections.

However, other members of Boko Haram are known when they’ve blown themselves up as suicide bombers or captured alive while fighting the army. The rest are unknown but are suspected to have infiltrated the operations of the Nigerian military.

Pres. Jonathan has accepted in the past that Boko Haram has penetrated his administration but obviously doesn’t know who they are. Boko Haram members are also those people that finance the activities of the sect; again may be nobody knows who they are.

Boko Haram members are men who will readily release their 10year old daughters and wives in Burqa as suicide bombers. They include those people who know where the Chibok girls are kept but say nothing out of sympathy for the Islamists; assuming some girls were kidnapped because it doesn’t make sense that over 200 girls will vanish without a trace.

All the same, those are the faces of the faceless Boko Haram terrorists that the Nigerian Army must fight and defeat. I am not a military strategist and so do not know how they will fight and win the war against the insurgents. But as a social commentator, I know how they must not fight and defeat Boko Haram.

Thus, the Nigerian army must not envisage fighting and defeating Boko Haram in the manner in which they committed genocide against Ndigbo during the Biafra war. Ndigbo and their devoted neighbours fought guerrilla war against the invaders (Nigeria).

In guerrilla warfare, everybody is a potential soldier; because of this, during the Biafra war; Nigerian army slaughtered every male indigene of Asaba that they could gather together. Some of those killed were as young as 12 years old. In all, over 2 million Ndigbo were exterminated that included children, women and the elderly.

Today, Boko Haram has adopted the same guerrilla tactics. Everybody (man, woman even children) in the N/East of Nigeria is a would-be Boko Haram fighter. And therefore, should the military gather the people and massacre them? That is not how to fight and defeat Boko Haram.

Furthermore, barely 6 months into Obasanjo’s Presidency, to be precise in November 1999 the military invaded ODI in Bayelsa State. They ransacked the community in search of EGBESU militants and in the process; they killed every living thing in sight and burnt down the whole town; sparing a Bank, a Health centre and a Church.

Do those people who accuse Jonathan of incompetence in the fight against Boko Haram expect him to handle the N/East the way Obasanjo treated ODI? That is how not to fight and defeat Boko Haram.

Since nobody was held responsible for the Biafra genocide doesn’t mean that the Nigeria Army will go free if such incident repeats itself. Of course, there are social media today, which people can use to record events. Moreover, there is an effective court sitting in The Hague.

By the way, what does Abubakar Shekau want on behalf of his organisation (Boko Haram)? He said; Pres. Jonathan must convert to Islam and introduce Sharia law throughout Nigeria. It then means that Boko Haram rebellion will continue forever since Jonathan will never entertain their demands.

On the other hand, it is only Buhari who can satisfy Abubakar’s demands since they have the same plan for Nigeria as Buhari’s statement of 27/08/2001 suggests; “I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria. God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country”.

Perhaps that’s why Buhari has promised to end the Boko Haram rebellion if elected the President of Nigeria. Nevertheless, Buhari should know that Nigeria will become history if he’s planning to yield to Shekau’s demands.

Finally, if Jonathan wins re-election, of course the activities of Boko Haram will intensify. And so, he will have to reenergise his strategy to contain the faceless enemy. 

And the President should ignore those people who are pushing him to commit genocide since that’s how not to fight and defeat Boko Haram.