NIGERIA is passing through trying times. As it was still battling to contain a nearly five-year Boko Haram insurgency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, another major battle front was foisted on it by the arrival, in the country ,of a dreaded disease known as Ebola Virus Disease, EVD. The EVD was deliberately imported into the country on July 20, by Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian diplomat, who died of the disease in a Lagos hospital on July 25. Ever since, the country has been battling to contain the dreaded disease from spreading beyond Lagos. But while the country was preoccupied with the containment of the EVD, the Boko Haram sect felt the time has come for it to intensify its campaign to break up Nigeria in order to establish its Islamic caliphate in the three troubled north-eastern states.
To achieve its goal, the group curiously changed from its guerrilla strike operation to an outright battle for territorial control. In the last few days, it has made some claims of having captured some communities in Borno and Yobe States which now form part of its caliphate. Apparently buoyed by the success of this territorial expansion, the sect wants to add Bama and Maiduguri to its territory, hence the battle for the soul of the state’s second largest town. For most of last week, media reports on the battle for Bama were, somehow, confusing. While some said the town had fallen into the hands of the insurgents, others quoting military and government sources, said the insurgents had retreated after suffering heavy casualties. But whatever the situation at the battle fronts has been, Nigerians are getting increasingly worried that the insurgency has lasted this long because of reports that the sect has successfully infiltrated the country’s security outfits. According to the reports, the insurgents have succeeded so far because they are said to be carrying out their operations in Nigerian military uniforms using vehicles painted in Nigerian military colours. This is hard to believe. If this trend continues unchecked, it would be difficult for the insurgency to end in the foreseeable future. The resultant economic and political implications are already staring us in the face.
Besides, 2015 means a lot to Nigerians. It is a year the Americans predict that the country could break up. This, probably, informs the intensification of the territorial ambition of the Boko Haram sect with its mindless attacks on innocent Nigerians. It is also an election year. Already, some politicians are using the adverse security situation in the country to score cheap political points in order to win the forthcoming elections rather than coming out with suggestions on how to get the country out of its present predicament. What, perhaps, they fail to realize is that if there is no Nigeria in 2015, there will be no elections. Can the country survive the landmines? This is the issue examined in our cover story for this week entitled “Containing Boko Haram’s Territorial Ambition.” Olu Ojewale, our general editor, put the piece together for your reading pleasure. Enjoy it.
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— Sep. 15, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT