Once more, Shet­tima’s word ver­sus Army’s

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

When you hear two con­tra­dic­tory ver­sions of a sit­u­a­tion report [what sol­diers call Sitrep] from two dif­fer­ent but equally au­thor­i­ta­tive sources, which ver­sion do you be­lieve? That was the dilemma of Nige­ri­ans at the week­end when Borno State Gov­er­nor Kashim Shet­tima and Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen­eral Tukur Bu­ratai gave con­tra­dic­tory ac­counts of Boko Haram ter­ror­ists’ re­main­ing grip on Borno State.

Speak­ing in Maiduguri when he re­ceived a Fed­eral Govern­ment del­e­ga­tion, Shet­tima praised the mil­i­tary for free­ing most of Borno State from the ter­ror­ists’ grip. He how­ever said, “They (Boko Haram) are presently con­trol­ling two lo­cal gov­ern­ments in Borno State, Abadam and Mob­bar and they are par­tially in Marte.” Shet­tima added, “At some point, Boko Haram over­ran 20 out of our 27 lo­cal govern­ment ar­eas in Borno State. They over­ran four lo­cal govern­ment ar­eas in Adamawa and two in Yobe.” Seventeen and a half lo­cal gov­ern­ments freed out of 20 is not bad, you will think.

Not so if you are Bu­ratai, the hy­per-ac­tive Army Chief who has been run­ning all over the North East push­ing his men to up­root Boko Haram once and for all be­fore the pres­i­den­tial dead­line of De­cem­ber. When re­porters ac­costed the Army Chief at the 3 Ar­moured Di­vi­sion head­quar­ters in Jos on the same day and asked him if in­deed Boko Haram still con­trols some LGAs in Borno, Bu­ratai said, “It is not true. No Boko Haram is hold­ing any ter­ri­tory. Have you heard them (Boko Haram) mak­ing any claims of late? We are more de­ter­mined and we have more pro­fes­sional sol­diers on the ground. We have been trained and equipped and ready to face the chal­lenge posed by them.”

Be­tween the gov­er­nor and the Army boss, who do we be­lieve? For­tu­nately, there is a record to fall back on. Back in 2013 Gov­er­nor Shet­tima told Nige­ri­ans at the State House, Abuja that Boko Haram in­sur­gents were bet­ter armed than our troops, hence their abil­ity to over­run ter­ri­tory in three states. The Jonathan regime re­acted an­grily to Shet­tima’s claim. They said it was not true; they with­drew the gov­er­nor’s mil­i­tary es­corts; they closed down Maiduguri air­port to ev­ery­one ex­cept Ali Modu Sher­iff; and Jonathan even threat­ened to with­draw sol­diers from Borno “to see if he [Shet­tima] can stay in that Govern­ment House.”

Well, what hap­pened? Last Au­gust when the ser­vice chiefs were changed, they be­gan to sing dif­fer­ent tunes dur­ing their hand­ing over cer­e­monies. Both Chief of De­fence Staff Air Chief Mar­shall Alex Badeh and Army Chief Kenneth Min­imah said when they were leav­ing that the army lacked enough equip­ment and train­ing to de­feat the in­sur­gency. Ex­actly what the gov­er­nor said two years ear­lier and they re­buked him for it.

So, Gen­eral Bu­ratai, his­tory is not on your side in this mat­ter. A civil­ian gov­er­nor has many sources in his state. The Army too has sources but when this kind of dis­pute arises, it is bet­ter for its in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers to go back and do a recheck. The sol­diers are try­ing, but they should ar­gue less and try more.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.