Gov't seeks public confidence as Boko Haram retreats

Nigeria's delayed presidential election will be held later this month, amid a continuing multinational push against the extreme Islamist group, Boko Haram. The election was originally scheduled for February the 14th, but it was delayed due to security concerns.

The government says it's retaken 36 towns from Boko Haram in the past month. But analysts say the key challenge will be convincing people to turn out to vote.

In the past four weeks, Nigerian troops have managed to do what they have not been able to achieve for close to five years inflict a crushing blow on Boko Haram. The militant group is now at a disadvantage. The military continues to take back towns and communities from the insurgents. And security experts warn this is no time to slow the renewed momentum.

"What we must do right now is go with single-track mindedness, crush the Boko Haram elements entirely. We are still taking town by town, village by village , community by community from them. We don't want them to be in control of any community at all," security expert Onah Ehkomu said.

As a sign of the changing tide in the war, President Goodluck Jonathan paid a surprise visit to troops on the frontline recently, something he had rarely done. But Boko Haram is far from defeated and its use of suicide bombings is becoming a common tactic to wreak havoc.

"It is to be expected that if you take the capacity of the insurgents, to operate in a particular way, away from them, they are going to fall back to another way, which, most likely, is the suicide bombing," retired army captain Umar Aliyu said.

"We are going to see, on the backside of this recapture of territories from them, a lot of internal terrorist activities because what they have done. That was the mistake they made, in trying to seize territories, trying to be like ISIS," Ehkomu said.

Elections are just two weeks away. The government says it is confident it would retake all the territories, occupied by Boko Haram, before polls open. But analysts say actually convincing people to come out to vote could be a challenge. Especially in the face of an increased suicide bombing campaign - which many believe uses abducted girls as the bombers. 

"The biggest challenge for the military to prepare people for this elections is not in the sacking of Boko Haram. It's not even in the rebuilding of those schools and ensuring optimal security around the school where the girls were taken or where the students were slaughtered. It's in actually building confidence levels," Aliyu said.

"Let me use the school as a very mild example. Yes, the school has been rebuilt. That's wonderful. Yes security level at the school has been upgraded. That's encouraging. But would you take your daughter there when the ones that were taken have not been found "

It's a conundrum the government would have to deal with. It has just two weeks to build the confidence level of the people of the northeast to come out and vote on election day.