Malians can at least breathe air of relief that their country is free from hardliner Islamic Jihadists, but Boko Haram must be tackled to flush out other fleeing militants, as France withdraws its troops.
With the Nigerian group believed to be linked with Al Qaeda, there is no way; Nigeria should be left alone to fight and win a war against these militants. Boko Haram insurgents have carried countless attacks in Northern Nigeria, kidnapped foreigners and have caused the death of about 2000 – both Christians and Muslims. After the success of the campaign in Mali led by the French, there is severe need for another super power to take the bold step and back Nigeria.
The cost of planning another tactical campaign tailored for Nigeria is evidently going to be huge. However, with the local people being terrorised nearly daily, and the Nigeria military struggling to overpower or curtail the insurgency that has already spilt over to Northern Cameroon there is no time to think twice. The longer it takes to come out with an initiative for an international campaign against Boko Haram, the wilder the group would become and the more complicated it shall be to stop them overthrowing even the government in Abuja.
Amnesty a mistake
Granting an amnesty to Boko Haram leaders as proposed by some Nigerian top decision makers would be like watching a fish in the same pond which it has been caught. The amnesty would not only be considered as a flaw on the part of President Goodluck Jonathan, but fuel for further atrocities and killings. Granting amnesty to Boko Haram would be like telling its sponsor that they are doing a great job and should continue to provide more arms and targets to be destroyed.
If the 2009 amnesty granted by late President Musa Yar Adua worked to an extend with the groups of insurgents operating in the Delta region, there is no guarantee that another amnesty would convince Boko Haram to abandon its unorthodox ambitions of attacking Christian and foreigners and imposing the practice of Sharia laws on the people. With many lives lost so far and lots of enemies and hatred created, giving amnesty would be asking the hunted to attack the hunter.
Winning a war against any insurgent group means you first need to understand how the insurgency is set up and operates. Like the theory of Taliban, it is difficult to identify or distinguish who is a Taliban from the local people. In another case a person can be seen during the day as a hard working farmer but would metamorphose into an insurgent in the night. This is not weird, since the insurgents live, interact and operate within the local populations. This also explains why civilians or local people are often the first victim in any organised operation to track down insurgents.
The people know who these insurgents are, but for fear of intimidation, kidnapping or even dead they would prefer to be tongue-tied. Boko Haram is equally another Taliban. Operating within the population of Northern Nigeria, especially in Maiduguri, where the heaviest casualties and destruction have taken place, they have managed to carry out calculated attacks even in the capital city, Abuja. Like any other insurgent group it operates a very intricate network as it militants can rapidly organise and spring up attack and vamoose unseen or captured.
Not Mission impossible
Insurgency can be defeated or thwarted, thus waging a war against Boko Haram and winning it, is not impossible. Nigeria has the forces, finances and logistics, but might be lacking the technique and approach. Nigerian military has stood tall in most operations across Africa, although it mission to Somalia almost two decades was disastrous. Even with its own crisis at home, Nigerian troops are currently on a peacekeeping mission in Mali. If Nigerian troops can help the deposed leader of Sao Tome & Principe reinstated, they can equally fight Boko Haram. Therefore, with a technical support from either Britain or the United States, Boko Haram can be crushed just like the Islamic Jihadists in the northern desert of Mali. African forces should not be left out. The success of the French in Mali was largely thanks to the relentless efforts of the Chadian forces. Niger, Chad and Cameroon probably the havens for any fleeing militant from Nigeria should also join in the fight.
On a global scale, if the war against terrorism must succeed, the insurgency in northern Nigeria must also be every country’s concern. The French family of seven kidnapped from North Cameroon is still in the hands of this insurgents. Therefore, granting amnesty to them is giving them the green light to increase the ransom demanded or execute the captives at no mercy. Nigerian army has been fighting; is still fighting; and will continue to fight for long. Civilians as usual have suffered the greatest casualties and would still suffer unless Boko Haram is defeated.