FG At ‘War’ With Borno Gov. Over Boko Haram
Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe has reacted to statement made on Monday by the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima that members of Boko Haram are better equipped than the Nigerian Army.
Okupe, while addressing a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, countered Shettima’s remarks and stated that, “it is clear that Governor Shettima does not have the expertise to categorize or classify the effectiveness of any weapon.”
He further said that, “It is therefore wrong for anyone, Nigerian or foreigner, to assert that our armed forces cannot defeat the Boko Haram insurgents or to insinuate that the insurgents are better armed,” adding that, “we state categorically that the Nigerian military is one of the best equipped in Africa.”
Below is his full statement;
We note the recent attacks of Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State and some comments about them in the media by some leading Nigerians.
For the avoidance of doubt and with ample evidence on the ground, we state that the Nigerian Armed Forces and Security Agencies are on top of the situation.
The orchestration of mayhem by the insurgents is the result of their dislodgment from their strongholds and hideouts in the mountainous forest areas of Borno State.
In recent times, these areas have been heavily bombed aerially by the Nigerian Air Force and combed systematically by ground troops.
If the insurgents have not been completely routed, it is due to the fact that Our Armed Forces are severely constrained because of the fact that civilian settlements are also co-located in this vicinity making selective engagement tenuous and difficult if heavy civilian casualty is to be avoided.
The public will note that following serious dislocation of the insurgents from their hideouts, the new trend is for them, after sporadic attacks, which are usually launched at night, to quickly cross over to neigbouring countries for safety.
The Nigerian military is prevented from pursuing them into these foreign territories by law and international conventions and this obviously gives continuous respite to the insurgents.
We must note that as far back as over twelve months ago, the fighting machinery of the insurgents had suffered major decapitation. They have therefore resorted almost exclusively, to attacking soft targets such as schools, women and children and sleeping communities in the early hours of the morning.
Most of the villages attacked are those like Kauri, Idzge and Konduga, which are generally situated along the foot of the Gwoza Mountains, which stretches from Nigeria to the Cameroon.
The obvious location of these villages close to the mountains affords the insurgents opportunity and facility to launch strikes at night and sneak back across the border into neighbouring countries. But the Nigerian military and security agencies have taken up this challenge and like every facet of this struggle will put an end to these incursions in the shortest possible time.
We are certainly not involved in conventional warfare but are rather engaged in guerrilla warfare with all its unpredictability. However, it is heartwarming that our military, which has participated in numerous international peace keeping operations where they helped to quell insurgencies, has acquired the sophistication and necessary capacity to adapt to the ever changing modus operandi of the insurgents.
It is therefore wrong for anyone, Nigerian or foreigner, to assert that our armed forces cannot defeat the Boko Haram insurgents or to insinuate that the insurgents are better armed. We believe strongly that the statement made by the Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima that the insurgents are better armed than our military is based purely on a civilian perception of the situation at hand. It is clear that Governor Shettima does not have the expertise to categorize or classify the effectiveness of any weapon.
We state categorically that the Nigerian military is one of the best equipped in Africa and that in 2014, the Federal Government made budgetary provision in excess of N1 trillion for the military and other security agencies, an amount, which is about 22 percent of our entire national budget for this year. This definitely belies the suggestion in certain quarters that the Federal Government is not doing the needful in prosecuting this war.
The statement on low morale and lack of motivation is equally unfair and misplaced. Whereas insurgents are usually motivated by ideological fanaticism, on the contrary well-disciplined militaries like ours are spurred by patriotic sense of duty, national pride and strict adherence to professionalism.
Therefore, the morale of troops engaged in this war is high and ought not to be dampened by unsavory and certainly untrue comments of low motivation.
We enjoin all our National leaders and stakeholders across political and religious divides to close ranks with government and our valiant troops defending our territorial integrity and support the Federal Government route out the scourging menace of insurgency rather than speaking at cross purposes.
We want to reassure Nigerians and members of the international community that though it is in the character of insurgents to create maximum fear, their sporadic attacks on soft targets is being contained and will be halted.
In conclusion, we state authoritatively without any fear or equivocation whatsoever that Nigeria is already winning the war against terror and the activities of the insurgents will be terminated within the shortest possible time.
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