Boko Haram Deadline: German Analyst Speaks

Jan-Philipp Scholz, the correspondent on West Africa for Germany’s international broadcaster Deutschen Welle, talks about the December deadline President Muhammadu Buhari has set for defeating Boko Haram. Will the Nigerian Army be able to keep up with the terrorists’ upgraded arms? And where is it that the terrorists will be purged out to?

Scholz recalls how effectively Muhammadu Buhari regained control over Yola slum in 1984, marking the beginning of an end for the Maitatsine Islamic sect.

In 2015, Scholz says, Buhari is once again head of state and Nigerians hope that history will repeat itself with Boko Haram, seeing the new president as their saviour.

Some Nigerian political scientists, however, say that the December 31 deadline set by Buhari was a mistake: Buhari did not realize how strong the terrorists of today are, and that they have developed deadly strategy of carrying out nighttime attacks and suicide bombings – and then disappear.

Although the military under Buhari taken back large expanses of territory formerly controlled by Boko Haram, with just two weeks to go before Buhari’s deadline, there are still many regions over which the military has no control, Scholz remarks.

Morevoer, Scholz says, Buhari’s ministers are now modifying the president’s statements and are now talking about “driving the terrorists out” instead of “destroying” them. Driving out to where? Scholz asks, adding there are growing indications that underground fighters are planning new suicide attacks in other parts of Nigeria.

“By now, Buhari must have realized that Boko Haram can’t be stamped out as quickly as the slum unrest of 1984,” Scholz concludes.