By Kareen Goulding
Since 2009 when Boko Haram began its violent campaign against the state in Nigeria, it has been a tale of invincibility. The military authorities underrated their sophistication at the time, and this resulted in heavy casualties on civilian populations as well as troops who employed conventional war strategies in a war that is asymmetric.
I must add that the Nigerian authorities were dumbfounded as they could not phantom the way out of dealing with the threat posed by the terrorist group. So this trend lasted for an upward eight years, and with millions displaced and properties worth millions of naira destroyed in North-East Nigeria. The Boko Haram phenomenon posed a severe threat to the territorial sovereignty of Nigeria and consequently plunged North-East Nigeria in a humanitarian crisis that shook our very foundation.
I recall that various school of thoughts propounded theories that would curtail the activities of the terrorist group, but none seemed to provide that magic wand needed to turn the tide against the terrorist group. And they gained more grounds, so much so that they took control of over 16 local government areas in North-East Nigeria. They established caliphates and attempted to begin an inglorious regime of abductions, maiming and killings, rape, destructions, and other nefarious activities centred around crimes against humanity.
The then government of the day seemed clueless, and there was no solution in sight. And the monster of Boko Haram grew in phenomenal proportion. Nigeria was on the brinks, nowhere including the federal capital territory was safe with the constant attack on critical government infrastructures including the headquarters of the Nigerian Police Force, as well as the headquarters of the United Nations in Nigeria. It was such a sorry tale in Nigeria.
However, things began to look positive with the coming into office of the administration of President Muhummadu Buhari in 2015. I recall one of the first decisions taken was the relocation of the military high command from Abuja to North-East Nigeria, and it was followed with the appointment of service chiefs who were mandated to hit the ground running in the quest to bring the activities of Boko Haram terrorist to an end.
Many of us wondered then how such would happen with the level of grounds gained by the group as well as with the sophistication with which it operated that had left a huge demoralizing effect on the troops in the theatre of operations in North-East Nigeria.
I must confess that some of us had doubts on how this gargantuan task was going to be accomplished by a military that was highly demoralized and lacking the required weaponry to confront a terrorist group that was growing in sophistication daily.
When on 24th December 2016 news filtered in that Sambisa Forest, the operational headquarters of Boko Haram had been captured by Nigerian troops, the country leaped in joy. Even though in some quarters, the news was received with a pinch of salt, it was nonetheless true. This was a significant milestone in the war against terrorism in Nigeria, and since then, there has been no turning back. The Boko Haram group was left in disarray and attempted to employ other nocturnal means to regain control of their strong base, and that saw to the deployment of suicide bombings using women and children targeted at unarmed civilians. But again, the Nigerian Military was able to sustain the tempo with renewed vigour to the amazement of all the doubting Thomas’s.
The tide changed entirely, and there was hope once again that the threat posed by the terrorist group had been curtailed. And Nigerians celebrated this rare feat and urged the troops to do more. The political leadership of the country also provided that support by offering all that was needed to boost the morale of the troops.
The military leadership also led by example. The Chief of Army Staff was always in the trenches with the troops in a manner that was quite commendable. In my opinion, that was strategic in the sense that the troops were charged to give their best in defence of the country. And today, the successes recorded have been applauded in many quarters.
I must add that one of the things that caught my attention with the operations of the Nigerian Military is the deployment of operational strategies that were dynamic and yielded the required results in the war against terrorism in Nigeria. Amongst the avalanche of strategies introduced, the recent introduction of the Super Camp Strategy by Nigerian Military in the final onslaught against Boko Haram terrorist is indeed a masterstroke worthy of commendation.
According to available information, the Super Camp Strategy is such that has seen to the rapid decimation of the Boko Haram fighters. It was revealed that upon the realization that the Boko Haram terrorists were taking advantage of rural communities to strategize and launch attacks on military formations in North-East Nigeria, the military hierarchy designed the Super Camp Strategy that involves the setting up of military camps in remote communities across North-East Nigeria. This was aside the various army formations already in place.
The idea is indeed strategic that it gives the remnants of Boko Haram fighters little or no opportunity to move freely and to pass in between static defence location. And the result has been phenomenal with heavy casualties inflicted on Boko Haram remnants.
I am elated with the final defeat of Boko Haram terrorists and must give credit to the gallantry exhibited by the Nigerian Military. I believe that Nigerians must indeed doff their hats for the efforts of the Nigerian Military in defeating Boko Haram in Nigeria. This is on the heels that those in positions of authority made a lot of sacrifices.
The introduction of the Super Camp Strategy has proven to be effective in the war against terrorism in Nigeria. Nigerians must indeed come to terms with this reality and extend their support to the operations of the Nigerian Military.
Credit must also go to President Muhammadu Buhari for standing by his words to do everything within his powers to ensure that no Nigerian territory is under the control of Boko Haram terrorists. And to the leadership of the Nigerian Military for exhibiting a high sense of patriotism in protecting the territorial sovereignty of Nigeria. The fighting troops that have laboured day and night also deserve our commendation. I think that a cue must be taken from this sense of dedication and commitment to duty as exhibited by the Nigerian Military. And if that is the case, there would be no stopping Nigeria in our quest for greatness.
*Goulding wrote this piece from the UK.