Save Borno And Nigeria From This Torture And Embarrassment
By A Mohammed Bashir Shuwa, Maiduguri
When he assumed office as the President and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, 2015, General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) was loud and clear in his resolve to tame the rampaging Boko Haram sect. At his inaugural address, he directed the military operational headquarters of the insurgency (Theatre Command) to move to Maiduguri, Borno State the epicenter of the insurgency.
President Buhari’s administration reinvigorated the capacity and capability of the military through reorganization, procurement of weapons and hardware, motivation to the rank and file and the desired logistics.
In reorganizing the military, new Service Chiefs and National Security Adviser were appointed. Whether by design or providence the new Army Chief in person of Lt General Tukur Buratai, the National Security Adviser Rtd General Babagana Monguno are from Borno. Similarly, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadiq Abubakar hailed from Gombe. The head of the Navy Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas came from Cross River.
Following the reorganization of the military, President Buhari gave the service chiefs a marching order to bring the insurgency to its knees within three months.
The Presidential directives was vigorously pursued to the extent that within the three months of the ultimatum all the Local Government Areas hitherto occupied by the terrorists were recaptured in the affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. For example, Borno State which is the epicenter of the insurgency where they held sway of twenty-four (24) of the twenty-seven (27) Local Government Areas had all the affected Council Areas retrieved from the terrorists by the military. At the end of the three-month deadline, Boko Haram was degraded and decimated by the fire power of the Nigerian Military assisted by the Multi National Joint Task Force comprising Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
By the end of December 2016, Camp Zero, the dreaded Boko Haram headquarters in Sambisa Forest was taken over by the Nigerian Military, the insurgents having abandoned their central command post due to the pressure and onslaught of the Nigeria Army and Air Force bombardment.
The capture of Camp Zero by the Nigerian Military was indeed a landmark or watershed in the war against the insurgency. First the military demystified the erroneous opinion or propaganda machinery of the terrorists that its headquarters in the forest was impregnable. Secondly, the confidence of Nigerians in the military became reinforced while internationally the hitherto worldwide acknowledged discipline and fighting power of the Nigerian military re-echoed once more.
Apart from reorganizing and re-equipping the military as a formidable force President Buhari in his characteristic of zero tolerance for corruption, never spared the military. On coming to power, he set up investigative panels to ascertain the prudence and transparency with regards contract awards and purchases in the military among others, the contracts awarded by the erstwhile regime with regards the war against insurgency.
Since the assumption of the Buhari administration on May 2015, to the first quarter of 2017, the profile of the Nigerian military with regards war against insurgency was on the ascendancy. Throughout this period, it became evident that the notorious sect had been substantially caged for onward liquidation. Nigerians especially the people of North East and Borno State in particular could sleep with their two eyes closed. This is because the military and other security agencies have proved beyond any doubt that they were indeed in charge.
The insurgents were in disarray as to them the center could no longer hold. Substantial peace had returned to hitherto insurgency infested areas. Economic activities as well as commercial activities have picked up in the speed of meteor. Traffic jam has reared its ugly head in Maiduguri once more.
Though about two million Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) and infrastructure worth about nine trillion naira have been destroyed with an estimation of more than one hundred thousand people killed, but following the feat of the military and the gradual return of peace efforts were set in motion for permanent rehabilitation and resettlement of the internally displaced persons in their respective communities.
Being the hardest hit victim of insurgency, Borno State Government took the lead through establishing the Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement. The Ministry has gone ahead in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of destroyed public infrastructure and residential quarters in some parts of the state including Kaga, Konduga, Bama, Gwoza, Maiduguri Metropolitan Council (MMC) among others. Besides, some internally displaced persons have already been relocated to the permanent homes. As a matter of fact, the state government gave May 2017 as the final date for all the internally displaced persons in the state to be relocated back to their respective communities.
However, the dramatic turn of events especially in Borno State in the past two months now have impacted negatively on the efforts of the government with regards the rehabilitation and resettlement programme.
It is rather unfortunate whether by design, default or act of omission or commission, the insurgents have sprung back in quantum or large number now on the prowl especially in Borno. For now, sporadic suicide bombing and attacks in various places have become the past time of the insurgents who now prowl places including Maiduguri the state capital and its environs with impunity, confidence and audacity. Even outside the state capital especially southern axis of the state is now terror infested – thanks to Boko Haram.
The Maiduguri – Damboa – Biu road, one of the major roads that leads to Southern part of the state has become a death trap. Despite, people travel on this road under military escort, the terrorists are never deterred as they attacked the convoy ruthlessly despite the military escort. Of recent, many lives including those of security personnel have been lost along with property and foodstuff taken away by the insurgents. Neither are the villages along this road spared by the terrorists who now make their menu from the hard-earned goods and toil of the local people through incessant attacks.
From the look of things and persistent attacks on Maiduguri, the safety of inhabitants is certainly shaky. The people now sleep with eyes open expecting the sound of gun shots, RPG or suicide bombing. They are now helpless moreso when the military is silent, a striking contrast to months back when the leadership of the Theatre Command Operation Lafia Dole would brief the press regularly on the military operations against the insurgency, the successes and setbacks.
Because of the sudden onslaught of the insurgents with no adequate response from the military, people are not only confused but wondered whether the rumour making the rounds that the military is not disposed to ending the insurgency for profit inclination true or not. It would however be recalled also that sometime, the military in a statement warned some politicians and prominent men in North East especially Borno State of planning to perpetuate the insurgency for selfish ends. Morning will certainly show the day. Its a matter of time.
Whatever is the case, it is no gainsaying that the on-going onslaught of the terrorists especially in Borno is creating loss of the people’s confidence in the military who so far has not adequately checked the persistent assault, raids and attacks of Boko Haram sect members on innocent Nigerians.
The need for military response is imperative as a stitch in time saves nine. To wait until severe damage is done before response would be a disaster with far reaching consequence. The military needs to save its honour and save the people of Borno in particular from continued nightmare, sleeplessness and trauma and the nation from possible humiliation should Boko Haram be allowed to have its way.