The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday declared that the Nigerian military had met the December deadline by President Muhammadu Buhari to crush the Boko Haram insurgency.
President Buhari had last August at a swearing-in ceremony for the new service chiefs at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, given them three months to defeat the Boko Haram terrorists.
However, on December 7, the president acknowledged that the deadline could be modified as it was only a guide to the military operation.
“Let me emphasise that the time frame given should serve as a guide and if exigencies of multiple operations across the country requires modification, the Federal Government will not hesitate to do so in order to address the flash points that are emerging in parts of the country”, Buhari, who was represented by Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Gabriel Olonishakin, stated this in Dutse, Jigawa State at the opening ceremony of the 2015 Annual Conference of the Chief of Army Staff.
Speaking at his maiden meeting with editorial heads of media houses in Lagos yesterday, the Minister disclosed that the war against Boko Haram has been largely won by the Nigerian military with the insurgents’ capability to launch spectacular attacks sufficiently degraded.
“Today, I can report that the war against Boko Haram is largely won”, he said. “I can confidently say this because just recently, I led a group of 33 journalists from both the local and international media to the hot bed of the insurgency, that is, Maiduguri, Kondugua, Kaoure and Bama”.
According to Mr. Mohammed, the entire 70 plus kilometres stretch from Maiduguri to Bama and all the way to Banki in Borno State, which leads to Cameroun and the Central African Republic, “are in the hands of our gallant troops”.
The Minister stressed that the military presence could be felt “every few metres along the road; at a point along that road we were just a kilometre to Sambisa forest.
“They have so degraded the capacity of Boko Haram that the terrorists can no longer hold on to any territory just as they can no longer carry out any spectacular attack”.
Mohammed, however, said that though there were still pockets of cases involving suicide bombers, it was pertinent to note that such was the nature of insurgency globally.
“Unlike a war between two armies, an insurgency never ends with arms victory
“Even in countries like Colombia where insurgency was supposed to have ended decades ago, attacks like this still happen”.
He also said that the insurgents had adopted a new style of attacking soft targets like motor parks, schools, entertainment centres, religious centres, killing innocent people mostly women and children.
He, therefore, urged Nigerians to support the military in the fight against terrorism in the country, saying that the military had availed itself creditably.
“It is our turn as civilians to give them our support; to realise that the war they are fighting is not their war alone, but our war, hence we must own the war”, Mr. Mohammed said.