SENIOR military, security and intelligence figures in Nigeria on Thursday questioned President Muhammadu Buhari’s December deadline for an end to the Boko Haram conflict, calling it “unrealistic”.
The Centre for Crisis Communication, a research and advisory body independent of government, said the deadline was “not tenable” given the continued wave of bombings in the northeast.
Buhari, who came to power in May, has made crushing the six-year rebellion a priority and in August gave his military commanders until the year-end to defeat the Islamists.
But the CCC executive secretary, retired Air Commodore Yusuf Anas, told reporters in Abuja there was a real concern about Boko Haram’s persistent targeting of civilian “soft targets”.
Anas said he was not against imposing targets on the military but added: “It must also be stated that this target date might be unrealistic.
“This submission is predicated on the fact that asymmetric warfare which Boko Haram is prosecuting against Nigeria is not such that can be easily stamped out by the armed forces.”
The Boko Haram insurgency, which has been raging for six years and has left at least 17,000 dead, has previously seen a succession of declarations predicting an end to the violence.
In March this year, the government under Buhari’s predecessor Goodluck Jonathan said it had begun the “final onslaught” against the Islamic State group affiliate.
Jonathan himself told the BBC in an interview on March 20 he hoped it would “not take us more than a month” to recapture territories lost to the rebels.
The CCC, which includes members of the military, police and intelligence agencies, said the December date should not be seen as “sacrosanct when all suicide bombings will end”.
Buhari himself has said he was confident the deadline would be met—but only on Boko Haram’s “conventional” assaults.
But he told AFP in an interview in Paris on September 16: “What may not absolutely stop is the occasional bombings by the use of improvised explosive devices.
“We do not expect a 100 percent stoppage of the insurgency.”