It took years for the Nigerian army to take and dislodge Boko Haram from the Sambisa forest. Why was it so hard? Its not difficult to think of reasons :
- Weak government, endemic corruption and incompetent people at the helm of affairs of the government
- The staggering size and inhospitable terrain.
- The destructive effect of using conventional doctrine and tactics to fighting a war of attrition against sn unconventional enemy skilled in asymmetric warfare.
Given all that, it’s no surprise it took a change if government and a complete overhaul of the armed forces to finally retake the Sambisa forest.
As if that wasnt bad enough, Nigeria’s efforts were also hampered by some inherent Strategic blunder. In particular, allowing external powers to influence events on the ground by giving clandestine support to Boko Haram and the arms embargo slammed on the Nigerian military over human rights concern made the problem worse.
1. The dumbest thing the Nigerian government ever did was the abdication of sovereignty.
As one Nigerian government official said at the time
” This is an internal issue Nigeria is very capable of handling”
In two years that statement will be outdated, as the Nigerian government would be soliciting for help, not from our traditional ally Britannia, but from our major geopolitical foes. Unfortunately, working with countries that have ongoing border disagreements with Nigeria creates more problems that it solves.
2. Follow the money-Dasukigate !!
Say hello to Nigeria’s former National Security Adviser, Alhaji Sambo Dasuki.
Weeks upon assuming office in Africa, Nigeria’s new president Muhammadu Buhari set up an anti corruption commitee to investigate how Nigerian soldiers could be outgunned by a non-state militia . It didn’t take long to carry out arrests. The National security Adviser under Goodluck Jonathan, Dasuki Sambo was implicated in an arms procurement scandal that resulted in the disappearance of a staggering $2 billion. TWO BILLION DOLLARS !!
This is money meant for arms procurement, yet there where soldiers were sent into battle with one or two magazines. This vindicated Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, who took a lot of flak years earlier for saying the terrorist sect, Boko Haram, were better armed and better motivated than the Nigerian army.
The Sambisa forest encompass a massive expanse of land 66,000 square kilometres. This is 18 times the size of Lagos.
Photos that show how incredibly vast the Sambisa is.
Remember the #BringBackOurGirls campaign Chief Oby Ezekwesili?
The Federal Government recently invited members of the advocacy group to join in a short tour of the Sambisa forest to observe the search by the military for the missing schoolgirls.
The Tory team were first taken to the Tactical Command Centre, Yola from Abuja by a C-130 Hercules.
Needless to say she realised the enormous complexity of military operations in a land area the size of Scotland Oby Ezekwesili via her Twitter account wrote :
“The dreaded Sambisa is massive. 60,000 square kilometres. 18 times the size of Lagos state !! All of Lagos is 3,345 square kilometres. #BBOG”
We are doing fine. We returned to Yola after a very full day on a Day Search of Sambisa. #BBOG”
To hit targets 13 miles down range, it takes about 90 seconds from launch to impact, hence the Nigerian army’s heavy reliance on artillery firepower.