What Buhari Must Do with $1bn Boko Haram Fund, by Yemi Adebowale

Muhammadu Buhari

The $1 billion war chest approved for President Muhammadu Buhari from the Excess Crude Account is more than enough to put an end to the Boko Haram mess in Nigeria. Yes, the Senate is insisting on vetting the approval before expenditure. Some governors are also querying the approval from the ECA. At the end of the day, patriotism will prevail. I am optimistic that Buhari will jump this hurdles and push out the money. $1 billion is enough to get positive result on the war front anywhere in the world, if wisely spent.

If our President is genuinely interested in ending the Boko Haram war (those profiting don’t want an end), he should use this $1 billion to hire the best mercenaries from Israel, South Africa and Russia. If he is patriotic enough to take this decision, within few months, Boko Haram will become history. With this kind of money, these mercenaries will storm the North-east with highly sophisticated war manpower and the most modern fighter jets/attack helicopters. Any leader that is genuinely interested in ending the Boko Haram madness must look in this direction.

If Buhari hands over this special $1 billion war chest to the current managers of this conflict, this country won’t get any result. The biggest challenge Nigeria is facing in this war against Boko Haram is that most of those managing the war don’t want it to end. These heartless people are profiting immensely from the blood of our gallant soldiers and that of innocent Nigerians. This is why soldiers on the war front are being cruelly denied operation allowances. This is why our gallant soldiers are ill-equipped and ill-motivated. As long as the war is on, there will be more money for these coldblooded war managers. This is the truth that must be told about this war against Boko Haram.

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I have persistently clamoured for the return of mercenaries because we all saw their impact when they were briefly used by the Jonathan administration. Buhari came and unwisely sacked them. This country must employ the best fighters from anywhere in the world to end this trauma called Boko Haram. The ultimate aim is to decapitate Boko Haram. The Theatre Commander of the counter-insurgency operations in the North-east (Operation Lafiya Dole), Maj-Gen. Rogers Nicholas, was honest enough to admit that the war against Boko Hara is sagging. He remarked last Saturday: “We have been losing our equipment and men to Boko Haram, I cannot tolerate this.”

This unnecessary embarrassment for this country on the war front continued last week when the terrorists ambushed some United Nations humanitarian workers and soldiers escorting four truck-load of food on the Dikwa-Ngala Highway. Four people were killed, while the four trucks conveying food for IDPs were hauled away. The rise in the ambush of humanitarian workers is creating a palpable air of unease between Nigeria and the UN. That was why the UN warned that it could affect its intervention and assistance to the needy in the North-east, where there has been a resurgence of attacks and killings by the sect in the last 30 months. “We must ensure the safety of aid workers and aid convoys across the North-east of Nigeria, so people in need of assistance can access it in a timely manner and in sufficient quantity. Many lives are at risk. Violence against convoys carrying humanitarian aid is unacceptable,” said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon.

It is so sad that the terrorists are still everywhere and moving around freely in the North-east. I can’t forget the attack on a military post in Sasawa (Yobe State), during which 18 soldiers were killed. What about the attack in Magumeri town, Borno State, in March during which the military outpost in the town was sacked? The terrorists overpowered the soldiers, with most of them fleeing. What about the killing of 69 oil explorers and soldiers in Borno State few months back? What about the terrorists boldly showing the video of 14 women abducted in Dalwa on June 20? What about the humiliation of our soldiers in Gashigha, Mainok and Malam Fatori? The University of Maiduguri was repeatedly attacked this year, resulting in the death of innocent people, including a professor of veterinary medicine, Aliyu Usman Mani. Never in the history of this institution has this much pain been inflicted on its staff and students. This horrific list is endless.

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Our gallant soldiers are capable of beating Boko Haram if well-equipped and properly motivation. They are capable of protecting humanitarian workers if well-equipped and properly motivation. Unfortunately, the managers of this war have failed these gallant soldiers. These war commanders have become businessmen. This is why this country has been losing grounds to Boko Haram. The terrorists still hold territories and control at least three local governments in Borno State, from where they launch attacks on soft and hard targets. If Buhari hands over this $1 billion to these war managers, the anguish in the North-east will continue.

On the flip side, it is very sad to note that the Buhari administration has not shown practical sincerity in this war against Boko Haram. I was shocked with his approval of a provocative tenure extension (unusual 3rd term) to the service chiefs leading this war. These service chiefs have obviously failed our gallant soldiers. So, Buhari decided to reward them for failure? This is preposterous. If our President is desirous of progress, he has to retire those at the top hierarchy of this war and appoint fresh hands. The likes of Gabriel Olonishakin, Tukur Buratai and Sadique Abubakar must make way for new hands in the interest of Nigeria. They must make way for war managers who would invest more in technology, intelligence gathering and welfare of soldiers. Above all, we should be thinking about hiring the best hands from anywhere in the world to prosecute this war. This is the only way forward for Nigeria.

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