President Muhammadu Buhari spoke to the BBC today claiming that “technically, we have won the war” against Boko Haram.
He stated that they could no longer carry out “articulated, conventional attacks.
Watch the interview:
The president and his information minister appear to be creating new meanings of “victory”. In August the president gave his military commanders a deadline of the end of December to end the insurgency. As that deadline approached, information minister Lai Mohammed was the first this week to start redefining what the end meant.
He said yesterday that “the war against Boko Haram is largely won”. In respect of the military, Mohammed added: “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.”
From Lai’s “largely won”, we now have the president claiming a “technical” victory. Perhaps, he meant Boko Haram were not knocked out for the count, but rather the ref had stepped in to declare a TKO.
But while Mohammed was claiming that the insurgents no longer held any territory, the president said in the interview that, from holding 16 local government areas, Boko Haram were now in “three or four”.
If we expect the Nigerian military to coordinate their attacks against the insurgents, it is reasonable to expect the government to be coordinated in the message it feeds the public.
The president’s claim that Boko Haram are defeated because they could no longer carry out conventional attacks is also highly dubious. Terrorists usually engage in asymetrical warfare because they are smaller than conventional forces and have less resources, making it necessary for them to use unconventional methods and tactics, and to hit at soft targets.
So claiming that you have defeated Boko Haram because they can no longer carry out conventional attacks is the height of folly because it is not their standard operating procedure.
It was dumb to set a deadline for defeating such an unconventional enemy, and it appears that now the deadline is approaching, even sillier statements are necessary to cover up the inability to meet a deadline that shouldn’t have been set in the first place.