Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday said the recent attacks by the Boko Haram sect would not dampen the federal government’s resolve to rout them out.
The minister, who spoke at a media briefing in Lagos, insisted that since fighting insurgency is not the same thing as fighting conventional wars in which guns could be silenced with an armistice, Boko Haram attacks would only taper off with time amidst better awareness among the citizenry and enhanced intelligence gathering by security agencies.
According to Mr. Mohammed, the fact that Boko Haram has continued to carry out attacks on soft targets does not mean that the sect still has the capacity to fight.
“As I have said many times, the attacks will not end with the expiration of the deadline. All Boko Haram can do now is to attack soft targets-markets, motor parks, mosques and entertainment centres, killing innocent men, women and children in the process”, he said.
“Our armchair critics who are not yet convinced that we have defeated Boko Haram as promised are free to take a trip to the theatre of war to see things for themselves. I’ve been to the theatre of war and come back. I was in Konduga, Maiduguri and Bama, the headquarters of the Boko Haram caliphate. Those who still think or say the Boko Haram sect has not been defeated should visit these places and tell Nigerians what they see there”, the Minister insisted.
Mohammed also commended the Civilian JTF, which he said was playing a major role in assisting the military to rout the terrorists.
“We have kick-started a campaign to raise awareness among Nigerians on the war, so that the citizens will not only support the war but also own it. It is a war for all Nigerians, not a war for the military alone. As the military enters the mop-up phase of this war, what is left now is the onerous task of resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction, especially in the North-east, which is worst-hit. We appeal for support from all Nigerians in this regard, because the government alone cannot handle this task”, he added.
On the allegation that allowances of troops on the battlefront were yet to be paid, the minister said: “I doubt very much if the allegation is true because the welfare of our soldiers has been well taken care of by President Muhammadu Buhari. The welfare of the fighting soldiers is paramount to him”.
Reacting to statements credited to Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, who disagreed that the military had met the December deadline to end the Boko Haram activities and asked the Minister to explain why the “technically” defeated sect was still carrying out deadly attacks, Mohammed said: “All the critics have another agenda rather than what Nigerians have attested to. We expect Nigerians to commend the efforts of our gallant soldiers. When the insurgents sneak in and carry out cowardly acts against the people, it doesn’t mean our soldiers are not working. A few months ago, it was not possible for people to travel to Bama, Konduga and other parts of Borno State from Maiduguri. Today, people are moving freely. So, what else do the critics want?”