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Cosmetic name change

Published by The Nation on Mon, 03 May 2021

HardballIt is unclear how a change of name will boost the countrys counter-insurgency effort in the Northeast. Renaming the operation against Boko Haram is the latest move by the Nigerian Army in an anti-terrorism war that has gone on for more than 10 years. The army leadership may know something the public does not know about the effect of a change of name on fighters, which is yet to be seen.The renaming is aimed at having an army that is repositioned to professionally defeat all adversaries in a joint environment, according to a statement by Director Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Yerima. The army needs to re-align for better efficiency, he said.Operation Lafiya Dole, launched in 2015, is now Operation Hadin Kai, the army announced on April 30. The Hausa expression Lafiya Doye means peace by all means. Hadin Kai, another Hausa term, means cooperation/ unity. Before Operation Lafiya Dole, there was Operation Zaman Lafiya, a Hausa term for peace.The previous emphasis on peace is ironic because the geopolitical zone has not known peace for more than a decade. This means the army failed to achieve the stated goal. The zone comprises six states: Bauchi, Borno, Taraba, Adamawa, Gombe and Yobe. Now the emphasis is on cooperation and unity. It remains to be seen if this new focus will result in peace.The new Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, believes the complete defeat of insurgency is a process that requires the participation of the entire nation using all elements of national power, the statement added. The question is: If national power means state capacity, how can an ill-equipped military defeat the insurgents' It has been established that the countrys military is ill-equipped.The army needs to adequately equip the fighters. That is a major challenge. It is more important to make the fighters prepared for the operation than change its name. Indeed, the operation may not need a formal name. There is no point renaming the operation when the fighters lack adequate weaponry.Another challenge facing the army is low morale among troops. When the fighters are well equipped, and well taken care of, they will have the confidence necessary to win the war.The army leadership should pay more attention to tackling the challenges that hinder the success of the war on terror. Renaming the operation without addressing the more fundamental issues is cosmetic.
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