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Another Boko Haram decoy?

By Ochereome Nnanna
AS a commentator on unfolding daily events, I strive to keep within issues before they are overtaken by new developments. I gauge an issue, write, then pray to come out before something new takes away the interest of the reading public. But this time, I am making an exception. I am praying that as you read this article, it would have been overtaken by events.

I pray that the much trumpeted news of a truce with the Boko Haram Islamist insurgents holds true. I pray by now, the 219 Chibok girls still in the custody of these bloodthirsty anarchists would have been released to the warm embrace of the Federal Government for onward transfer to specialist health centres where they will be evaluated and treated for any health issues arising from their over six months of traumatic stay in the den of their captors.

Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex and other West African CoDS

I don’t care if the Federal Government and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party will be rejoicing for pulling off a major political coup. It is no skin off my nose if Dr Oby Ezekwesili and her #Bring Back Our Girls, BBOG, campaigners will be in radio and television stations or all over the Internet claiming to be responsible for the pressure that resulted in the rescue.

It is none of my business if the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, will claim it was their members in the BBOG, as its chieftain, Mr Audu Ogbe publicly disclosed recently in Abuja, pushed President Goodluck Jonathan’s hand to get the girls out of bondage.

The eventual rescue of the Chibok girls, if it does happen, will be a political buffet. There will be enough for everyone to eat and even take home.

Apart from that, I am also hoping that by now, the Boko Haram fighters will be handing over their weapons in their hundreds or thousands, while the innocent civilians displaced from their villages will be free to return home or whatever remains of them.

I will like it to be like January 14, 1970 when soldiers came into our bush villages. They were well-dressed soldiers, looking very well fed, but bearing no arms.

Some of them had tribal marks of various scarific definitions totally alien to those of people of the East. So, they were Nigerian soldiers, the enemy forces who had now ceased to be enemies. They were very friendly and even patted the heads of those of us who were kids.

But I know better than to indulge in such a daydream. The enemy in Boko Haram is unlike the “enemy” in the federal soldiers after the war was declared over. They have proved to be cowardly, devious, cunning and deadly. On more than two occasions in the past three years, they “offered” ceasefire. The Federal Government swallowed it hook,line and sinker and got itself ridiculed. They cooked up another sly strategy.

Wearing army uniforms, they strolled into an unguarded girls’ boarding school at night, summoned them and informed them they were being taken to “safety” from Boko Haram who planned to attack them. The girls swallowed this hook, line and sinker and found themselves in a grim adventure that is better read in novels than actually experienced.

When the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshall Alex Badey (CFR) last Friday gleefully went on air to announce an “agreement” for a ceasefire in the war between our armed forces and Boko Haram, most of us were stunned. Our shock was not only because Boko Haram offered the ceasefire without the slightest inkling of any ongoing negotiations.

It was not only the sheer eagerness of the Air Chief and the Federal Government to grab the “offer” as if their lives depended on it, but also the speed with which our troops were told to halt further operations.

Up till the moment of putting up this article, the Federal Government was still full of hope that the truce-breaking insurgents would follow through with their promises and release the girls with a tone that suggested it was imminent. This was in spite of the reported continued attacks on villages and settlements in Borno and Adamawa States killing about 25 people, some of who were rejoicing over the ‘truce”.

I am sad that the Federal Government and the Nigeria Armed Forces have continued to approach the insurgents as though we are the underdogs while the Boko Haram is the more formidable side. We are too eager to jump at any purported sign of “leniency” by the insurgents.

We are beggarly in our yearning for Boko Haram to give us peace. We are putting ourselves in a position for these wild animals to dictate conditions to us. This is not the Federal Government and the Nigerian Armed Forces that I am familiar with.

I want us to return to our true elements and put on the character that led to the end of the civil war and the Niger Delta militancy. There were unconditional surrenders of the rebels (or whatever you called them). I want Boko Haram to beg to surrender and accept amnesty at our terms.

We want the conflict to end in such a way that no one will ever think of exploding a suicide bomb in any corner of Nigeria because when Boko Haram did it, they and their sponsors suffered consequences no one wants to face ever again.

Total military victory over Boko Haram will bring lasting peace. Anything short of this will only bring uncertainty. There will be permanent fear of Boko Haram “ex-militants” and their local and foreign sponsors. We do not want the peace of the graveyard.

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