The United Nations (UN) is a venerated assemblage of nations of the world. Ordinarily, where it airs its views on any matter of global concern, such as terrorism, it should be absorbed with serious reflections and actions. Such utterances also should neither be immersed in local partisanship nor flawed by established sentiments.
The nation was taken aback recently by comments of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambers, who proclaimed that the deadly “Boko Haram is by no means defeated, but certainly weakened,” in Nigeria. The comment is capable of being interpreted as an unpretentious contestation of the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria that it has decimated and defeated Boko Haram insurgency. It is also capable of been misunderstood as foreign diplomats dabbling into the internal politics of their host countries.
It is all the more shocking that the UN Special Envoy may have failed to differentiate the terms “decimation,” “defeat” and “elimination” in the assessment of the war against Boko Haram terrorism. These are terms frequently used by the Nigerian government and the military in the ongoing counter-insurgency operations. And nowhere has it been claimed that terrorism has been eliminated in Nigeria.
We are also worried that some Nigerians, especially the opposition elements, on a deliberate voyage of discrediting the efforts of government in the battle against the insurgency may have embarked on such a mischievous mix. Whichever is the case, we are persuaded to posit that the world body, especially its operatives, have first-hand information on how terrorism is festering in other countries of the world for years. And it has deep knowledge of the consuming tempo of terrorism in Nigeria before President Buhari assumed the mantle of leadership and what it is now.
It is pertinent, in our view, to direct the attention of the diplomatic community to what terrorism was in Nigeria and what it is today and to suggest that semantics as to whether Boko Haram is weakened or undefeated are unhelpful at this point.
It is important to observe that the UN Special Envoy and the Forum of Governors of the Lake Chad would not have been able to peacefully converge on Maiduguri recently if insurgents were still as potent as they used to be. We recall the activities of that criminal gang and the August 26, 2011 bomb blast at the United Nation’s building in Abuja; the May 29, 2011 bomb blasts in Abuja and other Northern cities during the swearing-in of the then President –elect, Dr Goodluck Jonathan; the April 14, 2014, Nyanya bus station terrorists attack; the October 1st, 2010 Independence Day bombings by MEND; the Zuba and Madalla bombings and others across the country that claimed lives in their hundreds.
The situation was so bad then that an overwhelmed former President Jonathan in 2014 informed the UN Security Council in New York that Boko Haram’s violent campaigns against the Nigerian state had killed over 13,000 persons within a span of five years, adding that whole communities had been razed, and hundreds of persons kidnapped.
Nigeria’s Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Mr. Samson Itegboje, recently told the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Peace Building and Sustaining Peace at the UN Headquarters in New York that before the Buhari Presidency, Boko Haram had annexed 14 local governments in the North East of Nigeria.
Though it was a conservative figure, the Buhari Presidency has been able to reclaim all seized territories; freed over 11, 000 Boko Haram hostages; caused the surrender of dozens of the militant sect’s top commanders and foot soldiers, proof that the terrorists have suffered decimation and defeats as they could not withstand the superior might of the Nigerian military.
It is the opinion of this newspaper that diplomats, especially those from the UN system, ought to dispassionately appreciate these efforts and at the same time understand the asymmetrical nature of terrorism anywhere in the world and be measured in their assessment of the situation on ground. Even more importantly, we are compelled to appeal to the world body to explore avenues to help Nigeria and other Lake Chad region administrators to bury the ghost of terrorism.
Furthermore, we have no hesitation in commending the determination of the Nigerian military, especially, the Army, coupled with the decisive and focused leadership championed by President Buhari that has managed, admirably, the mindless, uncontrolled and atrocious afflictions of Nigerians by Boko Haram. To this extend, we aver that the maddening levels of Boko Haram is extinguished regardless of the perceptions by those who are inclined to deny the good works of the military and their political leaders.
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