Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, has admitted that the Boko Haram fight has lingered for too long and that the army is poised to root them up within a very short time.
The Army Chief, who was addressing troops of Operation Lafiya Dole at the Army Special Super Camp at Ngamdu, a border town between Borno and Yobe, for the Easter celebration explained that the fight of counter-terrorism all over the world is complex but vowed that he would not allow Nigeria’s case to linger as long like 50 years as found in other countries.
“You may wonder that this counter insurgency operation has lingered for too long. We all know globally that counter-terrorism is very complex,” said Buratai, a lieutenant-general.
“There are some countries that have fought counter terrorism for close to 50years. But, we’re not going to leave it to linger that long. We will have to finish these criminals very soon. We will not leave this camp until we achieve that.”
Buratai also assured the troops that he is going to be with them through the operations as he launches a final onslaught on the Boko Haram elements in the northeast region.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari has provided all the needed support for the army to engage the enemies in a final battle, which he noted will commence in no time.
“We are here, we will not leave this camp until we substantially degrade these criminals. By God’s willing, we shall be there with you no going back once we commence,” he said.
“We will be with you in the valleys, on the hill, in the jungle, in the river and so on. As I speak now, we have some elements that are providing us necessary intelligence and once we start, no going back.
“We are here and we make sure that we get ourselves properly motivated, properly equipped and I assure you will have the best of time.
“Some of you have been here before like two, three times but I tell you are going to have the best of time. We want the best out of you. We need your courage and determination.
“I want you to have at the back of your minds that Mr President is solidly behind you. We have already started getting the consignment of what we require for us to handle these insurgencies and terrorism. It a matter of time and a very short time.
“If I ask you a question, will you answer me? The question is, is anybody ready to chicken out?
With a unanimous and a thunderous NO not to chicken out, the COAS continued.
“We make sure that we never go back. Forward ever, backward, never. Thank you and God bless you all.”
The war against Boko Haram has been on-going for years.
Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed.
Several members of the rank and file of the Nigerian Army said voluntary retirements and desertions have become regular in several army formations.
All the officers blamed endemic corruption and poor handling of the Boko Haram war amongst their top commanders for the worsening trend.
“Because of the deep-rooted corruption, a systemic one that is very dangerous to talk about, many soldiers are leaving the military in high numbers now,” a non-commissioned officer told newsmen under anonymity to avoid being punished for speaking to the press. “Many soldiers have deserted even when their application for retirement has not been approved after many months or years.”
In 2017, Transparency International found that a large chunk of the military budget was disappearing into the pockets of corrupt military chiefs and politicians, thereby worsening the counter-insurgency efforts.
Although most of the troops, who are eager to drop out of service, were said to have served one or two tours on the frontlines, rear soldiers have received ominous reports about their colleagues in the Boko Haram war and have taken the decision not to suffer a similar fate.
The commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Olusegun Adeniyi, in March, was seen in a rare video admitting that Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko Haram were outgunned by the terrorists.
Adeniyi, a major general, was leading a large troop of soldiers on a special operation when they came under heavy attacks by Boko Haram.
The commander was seen in two of four video clips giving a recorded situation report to the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, a lieutenant general.
He blamed the deadly attack they suffered on “very wrong intelligence assessment” earlier conducted before they deployed.