Eleven years after its uprising, the Boko Haram insurgency has cost Nigeria 27,000 lives and displaced nearly 3 Million people.
As men of the Nigerian armed forces continue in combat against the group, the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, says many years of indoctrination, is why the Boko Haram insurgency is a hard battle to win.
Speaking with Daily Trust, Buratai said: “Insurgency is not what you defeat and it would just fizzle out; they would revert to other tactics, that is terrorism. “They will promote propaganda, to the effect that all the institutions of government would be seen to be ineffective. This is what they are doing. They are exploiting the fault lines in our economic and political endeavours to expand the gulf of so-called discord and acrimony amongst various ethnic and religious groups.
“Why are they doing this propaganda, blocking the road and capturing individuals because they are of a particular religion? Unfortunately, they murder those individuals and send it to the world. These are propaganda strategies of the terrorists. “These individuals may be living with you and you would not know they are terrorists. They have a series of informants and logistics suppliers. They have a series of leadership strata that live in the communities and towns nearby.
“They pass information and organize those that are hidden along the borders in remote areas or communities who come, attack and go back. They also have a series of recruiters.”
According to Buratai, the indoctrination had started long before the group emerged. “At the National Assembly, I said indoctrination of the citizens did not start in 2009, it started much earlier. And it grew until it reached that point where they took arms against the state. “It is an indoctrination that has taken roots between 10 and 40 years back. And for you to de-radicalize an individual to bring him back to sanity, you think it would just take you three years, four or 10 years? “These are people that were brain-washed to believe that when they die they would go straight to heaven. And you think they would believe in you to bring them back to mix with people they refer to as unbelievers? You have to look at this context.”
While assuring Nigerians of a sustained assault against Boko Haram by the Nigerian Army, Buratai said: “If you are targeting the head to decapitate, you must have been on their tracks; how close have we ever gotten close to eliminating Shekau? This is a military operation. “Late last year, there was a report in which the Air Force bombarded their camps and many of their leaders were eliminated. Even the attack on Damaturu, about two of their commanders were eliminated. In Goneri also, one of their commanders was eliminated. “We will continue to target them individually and as a group until we narrow the overall leader. It requires some intelligence. As I said, this insurgency did not start yesterday; it started over 40 years back.”
Speaking the rumoured withdrawal of Chadian troops, Buratai said: “There is this misconception that Chadian troops are withdrawing from the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) operations, No! They are not withdrawing; the MNJTF headquarters is in N’djamena, the capital of Chad. The Lake Chad Basin Commission is also in N’djamena, so the mission of the headquarters and the command element of the MNJTF are all there. The MNJTF usually organises operations periodically to identify a particular threat area and all the forces come together, operate and go back to their territories. This was done in 2016, 2017, 2018 and even last year, up to early this year.
“They only completed their operations and withdrew to their territory. It was after Operation Yancin Tafki. So they are not withdrawing from the MNJTF. In the real sense, they were not here before the Operation Yancin Tafki; they came for a particular task. And they completed the task and went back. They are not blocking any other area. We had been on ground before they came and we would continue to remain where we are and do our operations without any external force.”