Time to save our country

The insurgency in northern Nigeria took a new twist earlier this week when, following a fierce battle with the Boko Haram insurgents, our soldiers succumbed and retreated to neighbouring Cameroun. It was initially reported as an act of defection, but the defence headquarters naturally intervened to provide a ‘proper’ perspective, as it put it, that the soldiers made a ‘tactical manoeuvre’ and found themselves in the neighbouring country. The 480 men have since returned home, maybe to be deployed again to face the ruthless enemy.
I have no problem with tactical manoeuvres, after all, gallantry in a battle is not only when one dies fighting but could also mean fighting to live and fight another day. But what I do have problem with is when soldiers are recklessly drafted to battlefields where they are highly likely to be humiliated not because they are not brave enough to fight but because they are insufficiently equipped. In the case of our men, that has been the case since the insurgency renewed in 2010. So, this week’s disgraceful humiliation of our soldiers was only a confirmation of all that has been happening, which military authorities have been hiding from us, but is today known to the world.
The danger is while our soldiers crumbled so cheaply in the face of the enemy’s superior firepower we are not only exposing ourselves to international mockery but are equally telling the world that, in an era that might is clearly right in spite of the lip service the United Nations and International Law play, we are an easy prey to any adventurous expansionist.
Watching the video clip in which Abubakar Shekau spitefully heralded his men’s success over ours was a complete nightmare. But the bitter truth is the insurgents are fast sweeping through towns and villages in the northeast, violating our sovereignty, and proclaiming a Boko Haram caliphate. But sadder is the fact that our leaders have chosen to accept it as ‘one of those things’ even after repeatedly chorusing that ‘we will not cede any part of the country’ to the insurgents. But that is what you get when you live perpetually in self denial.
We don’t need a significantly experienced war strategist to predict our defeat in the war because we have all along lived in denial of the war. We have casually treated the insurgency and dismissed suggestions to adequately arm our soldiers. There is no way we can win any battle with obsolete equipment, as it were. Our soldiers’ morale has been very low and many have come out, at the risk of being sufficiently penalised or victimised, to expose the sickening conditions under which they are made to tackle the insurgency. But, often, it is dismissed as the assertion of fake soldiers or a propaganda orchestrated by opponents of the regime.
There is nothing a patriotic Nigerian stands to gain from rejoicing over our trouncing, so far, in the war with Boko Haram. Every Boko Haram triumph is a defeat to every patriotic Nigerian. And every violation of our sovereignty is a direct declaration of war on all of us, to which we must all respond. But our leaders need to unpretentiously give us a clear picture of the situation and devise a war strategy to defeat the insurgents and reclaim our pride and annexed land.
Today Gwoza is effectively annexed, Gamboru-Ngala has been retaken and occupied and the insurgents confidently fly their flag and parade the streets of Madagali among others. But as much as we underestimate the insurgents and their prowess we need to get real and begin to accept the fact that unless we checkmate Shekau’s men’s forceful stride through our once sovereign country we would wake up one morning to discover that Yola, Jalingo, Gombe, Dutse, Bauchi and other major cities have been occupied. Perhaps it would then become only a matter of time before Abuja fell.
As a matter of urgency the president needs to put together a war team to quickly and genuinely assess the situation and plan a strategy to win this war. He also needs to purge the military top brass and order service chiefs to relocate to the flashpoints and coordinate our counter efforts from there, rather than staying put in Abuja to order deployments of barely armed men that would easily fall or scamper to safety.
Boko Haram has since declared war on Nigeria. We must accept this challenge and fight back or risk losing the war and country.