Nigeria: Setting the Records Straight On War Against Terror

opinion

Prior to the assumption of office of the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians, especially those in the North Eastern part were in agonising torment.

The men of darkness, the Boko Haram terrorists, unleashed venom on humanity, causing despair, hopelessness and creating a social upheaval that reduced men to ashes, turned children to orphans and made wives to be widows overnight.

Between 2011 and 2015, the Boko Haram sect sets its sail on the country; turning the flora and fauna of our dear country into misery. Thousands were not only killed, but resources and businesses were also plundered upside down, and the agents of evil commandeered and hoisted its malevolence flags in many local governments in the North East.

As of January, 2015, a few weeks to the general elections, the Boko Haram insurgents were in control of a total of 14 local government areas in the north eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, just as they exercised partial control over parts of at least 10 local government areas in Borno state alone.

The insurgents, who operated then with pleasure and candour, not only took over controls of the local governments, they also impose collateral damage in the places they hijacked by destroying entire villages, markets, military barracks, police stations, governmental buildings, prisons, farmlands and other symbols of authority and worship places, including churches and mosques; it was indeed a surreal experience for a country and citizens coming face to face with terror war for the first time.

Such was the country inherited by President Muhammadu Buhari when he took the oath of office on May 29, 2015. But, like a responsible leader, he looked beyond the challenges and promised to rescue Nigeria from the insurgents.

To go all out against the enemies of Nigeria, he sorted for the best hands to lead the charge as service chiefs. On July 13, 2015, the President appointed Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai, as the 26th Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and without any ado, he got himself galvanised into action.

Like every human endeavour, its being both valleys and mountains for the Army chief, but 45 months after his appointment Gen. Buratai has been able to lead a veritable team of patriotic officers to salvage the severe and precarious situation the government inherited.

The Buratai leadership brought certain hope and raised the expectations of Nigerians especially those in the northeast who were helpless. Hope has been restored as the raging daily terror incidents of previous years have been greatly reduced and in some places non-existent. Stories of Churches and Mosques being bombed are no more on the headlines as they have been firmly degraded. Most importantly, the hijacked domains of the terrorists in local governments in northeast have been practically retrieved and residents have now returned to their lands.

There is indeed a lot to say in Buratai's era, as generally, life within the North East zone, has practically returned to normal. People are back to their places of work and even the displaced are gradually find their ways back home. Also, many abducted persons numbering in their hundreds have been rescued through deliberate, calculated military rescue missions with incredibly minimal civilian loses.

Our soldiers are now well-motivated than ever, they are getting required support as at when needed; the army headquarters relocated to Maiduguri where it is most needed, gone are the days when all our army generals will sit tight in Abuja in the comfort of their luxurious apartments and receive situation reports on the phone or by signals only.

As we speak, terrorists could no longer freely unleash their lethal weapons in bombing motor parks, shopping malls, mosques, churches, schools, hospitals, banks, markets and offices in Abuja, the Northeast and other parts of the North. They could no longer annex Nigerian territories and declare these areas Boko Haram "Islamic Caliphate.

Generally, the era of waiting in defensive position for criminals to come and attack and run away abruptly came to a stop. The war against terrorists in the northeast and other incoherent practices in other parts of the country saw the battle taken to those who declared war against the nation.

For him, a broadened mind broadened in the fight against terrorism would usher in fresh innovations and that was why he kept his mind open for any constructive change of approach. He leads the line against Boko Haram with action rather than talking. At some point, the code name for the war on terror from "Operation Zaman Lafiya" (live in peace) to "Operation Lafiya Dole"(peace by force) and that signalled the attainment of peace by force in the North East.

At no time in our history has the Nigerian Army leadership shown more commitment to the sustenance of a policy of human rights obligations, accountability, respect for the rule of law, prudence and transparency, than it is now been seen under the leadership of General Buratai. Leading by example even in battlefronts, the Army chief epitomized rare valour and intrepidity to the officers and men of Nigerian Army.

At the just concluded 2019 general election, the peace and tranquillity the country enjoyed during the elections couldn't have been possible without the support of the Nigerian Army under the watch of Buratai. The military chief placed the military on red-Alert before the election with proper deployments of troops and issued stern warnings to officers who want to be political, such officers are advised to resign from the army, otherwise, complies with rules and regulations governing the army.

While not saying that its all Eldorado for the state of insecurity in Nigeria as there are still pockets of isolated attacks by the disintegrated and decimated sects, but, its noteworthy to know that the decisive capacity of the military is able to decimate them further.

The impact of the military against armed banditry in the northwest and militancy in the Niger Delta and the southeast using classified strategies and fresh ideas, cannot be factored out from the record book of Buratai.

But in some instances, some Nigerians have mistaken the duties and responsibilities of the Police with that of the Nigerian army, especially in the recent rise of kidnappings in parts of the country. The Nigerian Military primary purpose is to defend the nation from external attack and deter or attack would-be enemies.

However, it is interesting to know that regardless of the conspicuous successes of the military, most especially the gallant troops of the Nigerian Army, some partisan public commentators are having sleepless nights over the continued retention of General Tukur Yusufu Buratai and their clearly poisoned minds continue to pour out barefaced umbrage, lies, fabrications and campaign of calumny on Gen. Buratai.

While it is not difficult to fetch the motive of these destructive critics who are out to derail a moving train, it's important for them to know that politicking and military are two sides of the same coin. But for the displaced but now restored residents of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, why the need for a change. Clearly, it was all politically motivated and it won't fly.

Gen Buratai came when his country needed him most and has continued to serve humanity. His name would continue to take prominence in the annals of history. He has saved Nigeria with his selfless services and posterity will not forget him.

-Dr Nze is the National Publicity Secretary of the Southeast Professionals in Diaspora

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