Will Nigeria Really Defeat Boko Haram In A Month?

Six years of bloody conflict rages on in Nigeria as President Goodluck Jonathan's repeated claims in that the government was beating back Boko Haram have failed to materialize; the violent insurgency group continuing to plague Africa's wealthiest and most populous country. Ahead of his re-election next week, President Jonathan again made another such assertion, saying that Nigeria hopes to defeat Boko Haram within one month — but analysts said such optimism could be premature.

Speaking in an interview with BBC News, Jonathan said:

They are getting weaker and weaker by the day. I'm very hopeful that it will not take us more than a month to recover the old territories that hitherto have been in their hands.

With assistance from coalition partners and neighbors Cameroon, Chad and Niger, Nigeria has declared major gains against Boko Haram in the past month, reclaiming the towns of Monguno and Marte, killing more than 80 Islamist soldiers and capturing more than 1,000 of its supporters. Several days ago, the country said it seized Bama back from Boko Haram. The claims are impressive in that the military coalition managed to achieve within the month Nigeria alone failed to do in years of fighting the Islamist group. In recent months, the violent militants had seized much of Nigeria's north east, heightening criticism of the army.


However, perhaps indicative that analysts' wariness were not unfounded, Boko Haram launched hit-and-run attacks on Gamboru, a Nigerian town bordering Cameroon, on Wednesday and Thursday. AFP reported that witnesses said 11 civilians were killed.

Having faced widespread criticism from both at home and abroad in the government's seeming inability to contain Boko Haram, Jonathan has made similar claims of closing in on the insurgents in the past that some see as lofty declarations aimed at winning the re-election on March 28, because, as BBC reported, these claims have not been borne out by events.


In February, Nigeria's election commission postponed the elections by six weeks, pointing to inadequate security measures. But some alleged that Jonathan requested the delay for political purposes so that he had time to muster up more votes. Running against him is Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator who lost to Jonathan in the 2011 election.

Many Nigerians fear that the outcome of the election, no matter the winner, will trigger a spate of violence that could include rebels from all parts of the country, further exacerbating the suffering of a population besieged by Boko Haram's relentless, brutal attacks.

Image: Getty Images (2)