The news emanating from Nigerian armed forces in the North this week has been extremely encouraging, especially considering the alarming ISIS inspired ‘caliphate’ rhetoric coined by Boko Haram’s fugitive leader in recent weeks.
Several reports of strong victories for Nigerian forces culminating with the killing of Abubakar Shekau (or a man feigning his bloodthirsty antics in the spate of sickening videos publicly released) speak of a turn in the tide in the battle for Borno and beyond.
Only weeks earlier, reports were rampant of an imminent attack on Maiduguri by Boko Haram as their dastard attempts to establish an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria showed signs of encompassing the whole of Borno State.
The insurgents attack on Bama, Borno’s second largest town earlier this month, spoke of the severity of their intent. Stories of Nigerian soldiers abandoning post and complaints of inadequate equipment for the task at hand further fuelled the speculative notion that Boko Haram were on the defiant rise.
However, with the cloud of ‘invincibility’ surrounding Shekau (or his eccentric double) dealt with and an alleged 260 militants ‘surrendering’ subsequently, I think we can successfully posit that a turnaround in the fortunes of Nigeria’s fight with Boko Haram has come at last.
“The recent devastation on the insurgents’ leadership is attributable to the renewed commitment to eradicating terrorism,” was the triumphant tweet of Defence HQ Nigeria yesterday, coupled with the hashtag #VictoryforNigeria.
I join every well-meaning Nigerian to rejoice in this wonderful news. However, as someone inclined to the philosophy of the spiritual outworking in the physical, aside from the selfless sweat and toil of our boys at the front, I would suggest another key factor involved in the sudden decline of the militants.
Aside from their financial backers in high places, it is known that Boko Haram rely on ‘spiritual protection’ in their operations. I remember a controversial Nigerian cleric warning against fear in the fight against the insurgents earlier this year. “Your response determines their operation,” he calmly said. “Fear and panic help their operations because their main weapons are not bombs and guns of all sorts but evil spirits.”
I am of the opinion that a particular event triggered a spiritual change in the atmosphere in Borno which proved critical in the demise of Shekau or his impersonator. You may insinuate religious fanaticism but I pose the question – does any coincidence exist between Pastor T.B. Joshua’s unusually heated words last week and the subsequent surge by Nigerian forces? Consider yourself what he said in the aftermath of fingering Boko Haram as the masterminds of an ‘attack’ on his church that led to over 100 casualties.
“I want to assure you that our God will get back to them. Listen to me – God will get back to them – the agents of satan – and you will know when He gets back to them. You will know – ‘Because of what happened, look at what happened’. I said it last time concerning Boko Haram – our God will get back. Maybe this will be the end of the whole thing.”
I may be wrong but I suggest God’s wrath and retribution has been provoked! Let us pray that indeed ‘the end of the whole thing’ is nigh, for no one can fight God and escape unscathed. That includes Boko Haramites and all whose devilish ideals involve innocent bloodshed.
Godwin Ikechukwu – Lagos, Nigeria