President Muhammadu Buhari said to the new service chiefs yesterday: “You need to brace up and continue to team up with other stakeholders to come up with a well coordinated joint effort which will bring a desired end to these insurgencies within three months”.
He also said during a recent visit to Benin Republic: “I assure you that we will defeat Boko Haram by the end of this year.”
While running for president he said: “ If you elect me as the president of Nigeria on February 14, 2015, I am assuring you that our government will chase Boko Haram out of Nigeria within two months because it is the responsibility of any reasonable government to secure the lives and property of its citizens.”
He has now been president for over two months and there are no signs that Boko Haram have been chased out of Nigeria, hence the new three month deadline.
When the former president Goodluck Jonathan asked for the 14 February (s)election to be postponed to March 28, he claimed that six weeks were needed for Boko Haram to be defeated. His National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki said: “All known Boko Haram camps will be taken out. They won’t be there. They will be dismantled.” And all this was meant to happen before 28 March.
Previous deadlines had come and gone and each time new deadlines were set, they claimed this time it would be different.
So what is the point of the deadlines? On what basis are they set? How does the current president know that the scale of what is required would take just three months? What happens when three months elapse? A new deadline?
It is apparent that those deadlines are not based on any serious calculations. They seem to be imposed arbitrarily and done for the purpose of grabbing headlines. It is clear that the deadlines are being set to deceive the public that someone is in charge and the situation will soon be brought under control.
The president needs to come clean with the Nigerian people. He is not dealing with fools that would lap up any foolish and baseless deadline. Most people know that the insurgency has lasted this long because it is difficult to quell. Most people are aware that assymetrical warfare is very difficult for even more sophisticated armies to suppress.
Defeating terrorism is a long and arduous process and not something achieved with empty soundbites and deadlines by presidential decree.