It is less than a week to the end of 2015 and the deadline to defeat Boko Haram will be on the minds of many Nigerians, but the Federal Government says it has met the December deadline and that the Islamic sect has been largely contained.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed announced this during his maiden meeting with editorial heads of media houses in Lagos on Wednesday.
“Today, I can report that the war against Boko Haram is largely won.
“I can confidently say this because just recently, I led a group of 33 journalists from both the local and international media to the hotbed of the insurgency, that is, Maiduguri, Kondugua, Kaoure and Bama.
“Today, I can report to you that the entire 70 plus kilometres stretch from Maiduguri to Bama and all the way to Banki which leads to Cameroun and the Central African Republic are in the hands of our gallant troops.”
He said the military presence could be felt ”every few metres along the road; at a point along that road we were just a kilometre to Sambisa forest.
He also said that the military “has so degraded the capability of Boko Haram and that the terrorist can no longer carry out any spectacular attacks”.
The Minister further said that “the military has largely met the deadline and are now involved in mop-up and humanitarian operations”.
He, however, stressed that attacks on soft targets would not end with the deadline, but it will taper-off gradually.
Mr Mohammed told reporters that the gradual end to the attacks was in line with the nature of insurgency worldwide.
“Unlike a war between two armies, an insurgency never ends with arms victory
“Even in countries like Colombia where insurgency was supposed to have ended decades ago, attacks like this still happen.”
He said that the insurgents had adopted a new style of attacking soft targets like motor parks, schools, entertainment centres, religious centres, killing innocent people mostly women and children.
He added that the terrorists’ attacks do not constitute victory for the insurgents but represented the death pangs of a fading insurgency.
The Minister, however, urged Nigerians to keep faith with the government, explaining that the Federal Government had started a national security campaign to raise awareness among Nigerians about the war, the sacrifice of the troops that has seen the terrorists largely defeated and about how to finally stamp out the remnant of the terrorist group in the north-east, which is suicide bombing.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in August mandated Service Chiefs to end the activities of Boko Haram in the oil-rich nation’s north-east in three months, an ultimatum that was later shifted to the end of the year.