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(OPINION) Buhari and renewed Boko Haram offensive by Tayo Ogunbiyi

Aside his renowned firm anti corruption posture, the military background of President Muhammadu Buhari, being a retired army General, was perhaps, partly responsible for his wining the March 28, general presidential election. Apart from the slide in the fortune of the nation’s economy due to the dwindling global price of oil, national insecurity, especially the one occasioned by the dastardly activities of the Boko Haram sect in the northern part of the country, has become a major source of threat to the corporate existence of our dear nation. Hence, most Nigerians, either rightly or wrongly, were convinced that with a tested army general of President Muhammadu Buhari caliber at the helms of national affairs, Boko Haram insurgency in the country would soon be comprehensively routed.
The way things have recently turned out have, however, dashed this hope, at least for now. Rather than diminished, the devilish activities of the group have gained unbelievable momentum in the past few weeks. A few hours after President Muhammadu had referred to the group “godless” and “mindless”, during his inauguration as Nigeria’s new president, the sect struck with nauseating audacity, characteristically leaving in its trail sorrow, tears and blood. In the past few days the sect has launched a renewed attack on Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, perhaps to defiantly rubbish President Buhari’s directive that the military high command be relocated to Maiduguri. According to reports, the Islamists arrived in the Moronti area of the city by river but were incapable of advancing further because of wide ditches and embankments dug by soldiers around the city limits. They then began shooting sporadically at Ajillari Cross, a few kilometers from Moronti, thus throwing the area into confusion with civilians running for cover. The Islamists were later suspected of a suicide attack at a mosque in the city on Saturday, which killed 26 people and injured 28 others. In another development, about 150 people have been reportedly killed by the sect in a fresh attack on Maiduguri.
The recent renewed offensive of the Boko Haram is instructive in many ways. One, it goes to actually confirm that the group is in no way a religious group and as such could, by no means, be championing , as it has been erroneously proclaiming, the promotion of Islam. The fact that the sect has particularly chosen the revered month of Ramadan, when Muslim faithfuls seek to maintain peace with all men and their God, to launch criminal attacks on renowned Muslim locations and faithfuls, is a pointer to the reality that the group is , indeed, a ‘godless’ and ‘mindless’ sect. No sane group, purporting to promote religious course, should take recourse to bloodletting when it is common knowledge that God abhors such tendencies.
Also, the fresh Boko Haram renewed offensive readily rubbishes earlier ploy in some quarters to give the group a political colouration. In the thick of its dastardly attacks in the country, especially during the time of former President Goodluck Jonathan, attempts were made to politicize the activities of the group. Surprisingly and, perhaps, ridiculously, the Department of State Security Services, DSS, allowed itself to be caught in the web of this seemingly spurious claim. The spokesperson of the group, garrulous Ms. Marilyn Ogar, once insinuated that the then opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, was responsible for the spate of bombings in the country. Speaking during an interview on Channels Television, Ms. Ogar claimed that each time the APC had an election, a spate of bombings followed. She said: “We moved to Anambra and APGA won in Anambra, there was bomb blast. We moved to Ekiti, PDP won in Ekiti, there was bomb blast. We thank God that we were able to deploy appropriately. The results have come out and the APC has won and thank God there was no bomb blast.” “We should thank God that since after the Osun State election there has been no bomb blast. Glory be to God,” she added when Channels Television reporter asked her if she was insinuating that the APC was responsible for the bomb blasts across the country.
Though the DSS spokesperson did not provide any evidence to back her allegation that the APC was behind the Boko Haram bombings in the country, many believed it was part of a grand ploy to paint the APC and its then presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, in bad light in order to diminish their chances of winning the 2015 general elections. At the height of this wild claim, General Muhammadu Buhari was widely demonized as one of the major sponsors of the sect. It took a dastardly attack on the retired general somewhere in Kaduna State for many to start giving the claim a second thought. With the renewed onslaught of the sect, in-spite of a Buhari presidency, it is now quite clear that the Boko Haram insurgency is beyond politics.
The truth of the matter is that the Boko Haram sect is a terrorist group. To underline its wide acclaim as a globally recognised terrorist body, the sect was designated by the U.S. Department of State as a terrorist organisation in 2013. In the first half of 2014, Boko Haram killed more than 2000 innocent and hapless civilians, in about 95 attacks. In the last three years, more than 3000, people have lost their lives as a result of Boko Haram operations. A recent research claimed that Boko Haram attacks have left at least 12,000 people dead and 8,000 crippled in the last three years while Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes for the fear of the insurgents.
Therefore, we need to become less petty as a people. We need to stand up together and act decisively against terror. Those who are waging war against our nation have demonstrated that they care less about mundane dividing factors such as ethnicity, religion and politics. Religion, ethnic and political affiliations simply means nothing to these agents of death who have sworn an oath to ‘Ogun’, the Yoruba god that baths with blood. All they want is blood, nothing but more blood. To them, there is no peculiarity in blood. Blood is blood.
Consequently, the various security agencies in the country need to be encouraged to do more than they are presently doing in the management of the country’s security situation. In as much as it is true that terrorism is becoming a global challenge, our security bodies need to exhibit more decisiveness and professionalism in their handling of prevailing security condition in the country. One primary duty of government, all over the world, is the protection of the citizenry. The present trend that exposes Nigerians to unhindered horrid attacks and premature deaths is, to say the least, intolerable.
We all have a duty towards maintaining peaceful co-existence in the country. We need to lay more emphasis on human capital development, especially in places with higher rate of instability.
Finally, our political leaders must eschew all tendencies that could further throw the country into deeper crisis. God bless Nigeria!
Ogunbiyi is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.

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