YNaija Editorial: There is still so much work to do against Boko Haram

One of President Muhammadu Buhari’s strongest campaign promises in the run-up to the 2015 General Election was squashing the terrorist organization, Boko Haram and ending the insurgency they have been waging in the North-East region. It is also on this that he has scored his biggest achievements in the almost two years he has been office as the terrorists have been significantly weakened such that they can no longer hold territory.

It is in the light of this that his administration has declared victory over the terrorists twice: the first one a ‘technical’ victory in December 2015 and the second one in December last year with the Nigerian army taking over their Alagarno camp in the Sambisa Forest which served as their headquarters.

However, it is evident that the war is still far from over as Boko Haram has not lost their ability to carry out suicide bombings (of which there have been close to seven in the past three months), to attack villages and rural communities, waylay travelers or even to attack military bases and installations.

While we may want to describe these attacks as last-gasp attempts of a dying group, it still shows their potency to wreak havoc and destroy lives and properties. It also shows that there is still a lot of work to be done against them.

To start with, it appears that the top leadership of the terrorist group is still intact and the leader, Abubakar Shekau evidently still alive, judging by his videos and audio messages that he releases from time to time, the most recent after the deadly bombing of a mosque in the University of Maiduguri last week.

Their existence is one of the main reasons why Boko Haram continues to fester, because while the foot soldiers are continuously caught or killed in combat, the group remains a threat because the leadership which offers strategic and ideological guidance is alive. Without the head being caught off, the body of the organization cannot die.

This is in stark contrast to how the United States, for example, has succeeded in weakening al-Qaeda by killing 18 members of its top leadership in five years, including Osama bin-Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, its leader in the Arabian peninsula.

The failure of our military and intelligence agencies to achieve same feat shows either how poor their intelligence-gathering is or their inability to deliver strikes on the group where it will really hurt. This is a serious deficiency that they need to work on.

The failure of intelligence does not extend only to eliminating its leadership but also to uncovering attack plots before they happen. This is the best way of keeping citizens safe, and not checkpoints and barricades or body checks into public places. Intelligence networks have to work overtime to quash terrorist cells long before they set off attacks that kill and maim innocent people.

Not only that, there is yet to be any evidence that how the group gets its funding has been uncovered or its financiers arrested. Inasmuch as the group funds itself from criminal activity such as kidnapping, there are strong indications that it is not its only source of funding. This means that if these funding sources are not cut off, it will be easy for the terror group to be cloned.

While the Buhari administration might be desirous of a victory over the terrorist group to keep with its campaign promise, it must ensure that these glaring loopholes in the fight against the terrorists are filled up and the group is eliminated for good or decimated such that they are no longer a threat.

Without these things achieved, the scourge of Boko Haram will continue to kill and terrorize Nigerians.

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