Buhari:  America Celebrates A Global Hero 

by on March 26, 2017

By: Okanga Agila 

Refreshingly, Nigeria’s  successful prosecution of the anti-terrorism campaigns in the Northeast reverberated again on the global scene quite commendably. Recently, America’s Secretary of State, Mr.  Rex Tillerson mouthed exceptional appreciation to Nigeria for its fruitful battles against Boko Haram insurgency.

Quite impressively, Tillerson echoed it when assessing the unabated torment of parts of the globe with terrorism by the Iranian ISIS. The US scribe hinted of the sound logic and wisdom of wars not restricted to weaponry alone, which Nigeria has exemplified perfectly.

Tillerson spoke glowingly about the diversity of counter anti-terrorism tactics and strategies in terrorism wars, which Nigeria has effectively deployed in its confrontation of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs). The positive results therefrom, as he admitted, compelled him to implore nations of the world under similar threats to emulate the Nigerian example.

Aside urging coalition on all fronts from nations in the assault on world terrorism, Tillerson pointedly proclaimed, at the meeting of  ‘Global Coalition Working to Defeat ISIS’ comprising 68 countries, which held in Washington, D.C,  thus, “But let me be clear: we must fight ISIS online as aggressively as we would on the ground.”

 The US scribe was precisely navigating the warfare mindset of the Great Mao Zedong, the founder of the Peoples Republic of China and chairman, Communist Party of China.  Zedong believed, “Weapons are an important factor in war, but not the decisive one; it is man and not materials that counts.”

Narrowing it back home, when President Muhammedu Buhari commissioned the Nigerian military to terminate the reign of  Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria, many Nigerians thought the  time has come for the might of military weapons to subdue the menace of terrorism. Prior to this moment, when insurgents besmirched Nigerian troops on the battlefield of counter-insurgency, Nigerians decried the sophistry of terrorists’ weapons against Nigerian military.

But President Buhari knew better that what it takes to win such wars is beyond the sophistry of weapons or the raging sounds of boots and guns. Therefore, an internal search for a competent and courageous military officers to lead the anti-terrorism battle resulted into his appointment of General Abayomi Olonisakin as Chief of Defence Staff, Lt.Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai,  as Chief of Army Staff,

Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar as Chief of Air Staff  and  Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibass as Chief of Naval Staff who served as vanguard  of the counter-insurgency war.

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 The profile of these seasoned military officers are on the fingertips of Nigerians. They have an untainted reputation as  a dexterous, knowledgeable, tactful, courageous and disciplined professional soldiers.  The manner they anchored the anti-terrorism combats have etched not only his name, but that of Nigeria on the global map, when nations commune to discuss strategies of defeating terrorism in the world.

It is also an established fact that Boko Haram terrorists group, the affiliate of ISIS in what the sect calls its West African Province, remain one of the deadliest and bloodiest terrorists sects on the African continent. But unfortunately, its origins started in Nigeria. Nigeria battled with it for years, without success until President Buhari emerged on the scene and directed the Chief of Defence Staff and the Service Chiefs to lead the battle as was exemplified in the movement of the Military Command and Control Centre from Abuja to Maiduguri, the epicentre of Boko Haram insurgency. In particular, the Nigerian Army started the campaigns against terrorism with warfare, but had to initiate series of tactics and strategies at every stage of war.

Briefly, these strategies and tactics resulted into first, the weakening of the sect members or operations and when the battle reached its crescendo, insurgents were decimated and later, defeated, for which Nigeria has continued to earn global recognition.

Perhaps, many may know for the first time of the adoption of these diverse strategies by the Nigerian Army’s hierarchy for the defeat of Boko Haram terrorists, brought about the much needed respite and peace to Nigerians and the sub-region.

It is imperative to note that the wisdom and experience of the Nigerian military and in particular, the  Army,  in  leading  a sensitive and delicate war on terrorism  would  realize the various  non-combative  dimensions  and requirements of  the war to humble the enemies. When Nigerian troops consistently dealt fatal blows to insurgents on the battlefield, terrorists and the agents as well as sponsors retreated into disguised cyber warfare against Nigerians.

They feigned or fabricated online publications about terrorists’ bloody attacks on military formations and civilian populations which were at best a farce. Terrorism agents also publicized on social and even traditional media a fake weapons sophistry and might of terrorists against Nigerian army and tales about exploits that existed only in the realm of imagination of the terrorists.        

The essence was to frighten the civilian population which was being rescued and dampen the morale of troops.  But the Army realized the change of tactics by the enemies and impressed it on its troops. Consequently, it devised the army’s counter-cyber warfare strategy in tackling the propaganda of terrorists. The Army’s Directorate of Information was reinvigorated and energized. And apart from its proactive steps in handling such matters, it deflated the antics and propaganda of terrorists and their agents effectively, restoring the needed confidence in all stakeholders.

Additionally, in spite of the seriousness of the anti-terrorism campaigns,  the Army leadership properly decoded the social psychology of the war as they knew that some Boko Haram foot -soldiers, were forced, hoodwinked or even charmed to enlist into the devious sect. Therefore,  the Defence Headquarters offered them a window to voluntarily renounce membership of Boko Haram sect, by offering the Safe Corridor initiative.

Scores of Boko Haram members submitted themselves to soldiers, without a gunshot in the air, a development which further depleted the ranks of insurgents. Those who surrendered were camped into special centres for re-orientation or what the military termed de-radicalization and de-militarization of their violent instincts before re-uniting with the larger society.

And to further choke terrorists, the military identified and secured all internal routes and avenues that supplied food, arms and ammunitions  to insurgents as well as their families. Starvation on the domestic front badly affected terrorists families and caused more than a stir.  It resulted in “wives revolt” as they assailed their terror’ husbands with faces of starvation, fear of the unknown and threats to abandon them if they fail to renounce terrorism.  It caused dissension in Boko Haram camps, as some terrorists revolted against their masters and further renounced the sect, preferring to reunite with their families to live in peace.

At the defeat of terrorism, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) dreaded going back to their ancestral abodes.  Apart from the emptiness IDPs felt returning to completely ruined homes, there was the phobia of protection from incidental attacks by terrorists. The development had the spiral effect of emboldening terrorists with a false illusion that even the army and IDPs knows the war is not over. We could not tolerate the impression.

Thus, to surmount the problem, the Nigerian Army kick-started the rebuilding process, constructing damaged roads, opening up  closed routes,  creating new access roads  like in Sambisa forest and were in the vanguard of mobilizing support to assist the IDPs return to their communities. This was followed by various campaigns for peace and reconciliation in the Northeast and enlightenment on more  vigilance and Security consciousness. There was  increased military visibility in these communities to give confidence to returnees.

These strategies further weakened terrorists and substantially kept them away from the shores of Nigeria, having realized that the people have decided to take their destiny into their hands. Insurgents fled to neighbouring countries, from where they would launch occasional attacks on soft targets and retreat again.

Today, despite the conspiracies against Nigeria in its anti-terrorism campaigns, the world knows the country has crossed the proverbial Rubicon in the battle against terrorists.  Therefore, the success of the counter-insurgency war in Nigeria had much to do with weapons, but also  equally important, the non-combative wisdom and intelligence, which the military devised at the progression stages of the war. It explains Tillerson’s plea for nations to fight ISIS terrorism more aggressively on the cyberspace, much as on the battlefield.

Pleasantly, Tillerson’s testimony is confirmation of Nigerian military’s extraordinary wisdom in prosecuting the counter-insurgency war in Nigeria, as in terrorism warfare, where weapons fail to yield results, non-combative methods work conveniently.  It is virtually through the wisdom spearheaded by President Muhammadu Buhari that Nigeria has defeated terrorists and its   flag flying in high places around the world today.

This is another glorious moment for all Nigerians anywhere in the world to jubilantly be proud of their beloved country. It goes to explain that no matter the extent detractors attempt to blot Nigeria’s shinning glitz, the world cannot be blinded to this reality. 

Okanga writes from Agila, Benue State

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