Nigerian Government Faults Claim By Governor, Insists Military Winning War Against Boko Haram
DOYIN OKUPE n SAN FRANCISCO, February 18, (THEWILL) - The Federal Government declared on Tuesday that it was in full control of the situation in Borno State where the Boko Haram insurgents have been unleashing terror on the people of the area in the last couple of weeks.
Responding to criticisms, especially in the media that the Federal Government appears to be losing the battle against terror, the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Public Affairs), Dr.
Doyin Okupe, who spoke at a media briefing in Abuja, maintained that the Nigerian Armed Forces and other 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,' Okupe said, adding 'In recent times, these areas have been heavily bombed aerially by the Nigerian Air Force and combed systematically by ground troops.
' According to Okupe, '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.
' Okupe said the public will note that following serious dislocation of the insurgents from their hideouts, stressing 'the new trend is for them, after sporadic attacks, which are usually launched at night, to quickly cross over to neigbouring countries for safety.
' He added: '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.
' The statement said as far back as over 12 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,' he added.
Okupe, who listed most of the villages attacked to include Kauri, Idzge and Konduga, which are generally situated along the foot of the Gwoza Mountains, which stretches from Nigeria to the Cameroon, noted that 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.
He however said that 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.
According to Okupe, 'We are certainly not involved in conventional warfare but are rather engaged in guerrilla warfare with all its unpredictability.
' He said it is heartwarming that the 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,' he said, adding '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.
' He said it is clear that Governor Shettima does not have the expertise to categorise or classify the effectiveness of any weapon.
Okupe maintained: '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 presidential aide said the statement on low morale and lack of motivation is equally unfair and misplaced, stressing '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.
' He added that 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.
He implored all leaders and stakeholders across political and religious divides to close ranks with government and the valiant troops defending the country's territorial integrity and support the Federal Government to quell the scourging menace of insurgency rather than speak at cross purposes.
He reassured 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 are 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,' he added.