The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai on Monday denied a report which claimed that he blamed the setbacks experienced in the counter insurgency operations in Nigeria on the lack of commitment of his troops.
“Let me categorically state that I never said in my remarks that the troops lack commitment. It is completely wrong and I want to believe that I was somehow quoted out of context and probably with some elements of mischief,” he said.
But Buratai still had plenty of blame to share. The Army Chief said that the lack of cooperation by local communities is another factor that has hindered the progress of the military in the fight against terrorism in the North East. Per Lt. Gen Buratai: “The Boko Haram terrorists sneak into the towns and villages, and members of the communities see them; they see strange faces among them but hardly report until they are attacked.
“The enemies live together with the population and move about everywhere; unless you can identify them and say these are the criminal you can’t be able to deal with them rapidly. The challenge is that if the population does not identify them and bring them out at the critical time the challenge of terrorism will continue and everybody will continue to suffer.”
He added that: “Counter-insurgency is a complex operation and highly fluid. It involves an enemy that is not identified as it is not known with specific uniform like the troops.”
Another take: It is easy for Buratai to point fingers at locals for not providing enough information. However, there are documented cases of informants being outed after providing information to the military, leading to reprisals by the terrorists. Locals must first trust that their identities are safe when they give information to the military. Right now, that is not always the case.
The Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, who hosted the Chief of Army Staff said unemployment remains the core problem that must be fixed for progress to be made in restoring peace to the state.
- “The major problems we are having now are food security, youth unemployment, poor infrastructure, drug abuse, illiteracy, climate change among others.
- “Over 80 percent of our population is unemployed. The situation is catastrophic from Monguno, Ngala, Damboa and almost all part of the state. And unless we address the root causes of these problems I don’t think we can make any meaningful progress.”