Armed local conflicts are difficult to manage in any part of the world. Countries which have had this unfortunate experience and eventually salvaged, reserve a special chapter in their history to recount the disgusting tales.
African nations like Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda and hordes of others like Syria and Pakistan have gone through hell on earth. The unpredictable and highly dynamic character of terrorism, armed local conflicts and insurrections makes it difficult for leaders and armies of such nations to effectively curb it. Curtailing bile terrorism is not a tea party anywhere.
Such conflicts are a complex mix of politics, ethnicity, religion and all manner of combustible sentiments, inflame it unimaginably. Therefore, it requires much more than just equipping the army or security agencies. To make any impact in extinguishing these burning fires, intellect, energy, planning, adoption of various tactics and strategies come into play and nothing is left to chance.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s security team has been able to achieve this milestone within two years. The Service Chiefs have made the nation proud, with a profound statement that Boko Haram terrorism and other allied acts of terrorism cannot keep Nigerians in perpetual bondage.
Of course, the entire globe is aware of the extent Nigeria was crippled by terrorism prior to the Buhari Presidency. Northeast, was the epicenter of consuming and untamable insurgency. Boko Haram had captured and were effectively administering 23 local governments in the region, within the sovereignty of Nigeria.
Even the declaration of state of emergency in the areas failed to deliver the needed relief, as terrorists under the satanic leadership of Abubakar Shekau waxed stronger. They freely committed all manner of atrocities’ and heinous crimes against humanity and consistently boasted about their unchallengeable might.
Elsewhere in Nigeria, Abuja was under the furnace of terrorism; Most major cities in the North, like Kano and Kaduna were not spared the fury of terrorism. Almost daily, people were killed in churches, mosques, schools, marketplaces and government offices.
Security formations were not spared the sword of terrorists. But the mindless abductions and gruesome killings have ceased. Abuja has not heard the sound of a bomb, since Buhari became President. The phobia of terrorists attacks during special festivities like Christmas and sallah celebrations have vanished. No single Nigerian territory is under the captivity of Boko Haram terrorists anymore.
Life was meaningless, short and brutish for most Nigerians. But the Buhari Presidency has changed the narrative to peace and prosperity. With the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Gabriel Abayomi Olonisokin and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and leader of the counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai on the saddle, respite has undeniably docked in Nigeria.
Many Nigerians are not aware that the counter-terrorism war has been fought on many fronts. Terrorists have been battled on the field, in the trenches, forests and caves of Sambisa forest, much as they have been battled on the cyberspace.
From every angle, terrorists have been humiliated, humbled, decimated and defeated. The Nigerian security team worked ahead of the intelligence of terrorists. The rescue of thousands of abducted Nigerians from Boko Haram captivity, and the surrender of scores of top Boko Haram commanders and dozens of foot soldiers incontestably attest to the victory of Buhari’s security team over terrorists and their covert agents.
The current efforts by the Nigerian military to clear Sambisa forest and make it a tourist destination are some of the legacies that have endeared Nigerians to the Nigerian military. It explains why the world keeps pouring torrents of recognitions on the Nigerian military. So when Boko Haram’s factional leader, Abubakar Shekau lamented of frustrations with the war and opted to discontinue, it was apt testimony that his camp of evil doers had hit the brick wall. It was clear the incensed devils could no longer march the strength of the Nigerian military.
The Nigerian Security Chiefs have received global accolades from famed world leaders, including former US President Barack Obama and former United Nations (UN) Chief scribe, Mr. Banki-Moon. Gen. Buratai particularly, has been feted with international awards and recognitions for his efforts in decimating and defeating Boko Haram terrorists. The Chief of Army Staff was particularly invited to Brazil and decorated with its highest military honour as a mark of appreciation of the successes that he has led the Nigerian Army to post within a short period of time.
Therefore, when leaders of the world’s best armies converged in Abuja a few weeks ago for the Nigerian Army and the United States Army Africa (USARAF) co-hosted African Land Forces Summit, it passed a silent message. It confirmed the special recognition world armies are extending to the Nigerian military over its marvelous demystification of Boko Haram terrorism.
The summit, themed; ‘Unity is Strength: Combatting Africa’s Security Challenges’ offered a platform for African military leaders to share experiences with the Nigerian military on combating terrorism. The attendance was far reaching and impressive, as military chiefs of other nations from Europe and the Americas featured.
The Nigerian Army again proved it competence and strength to the largest continental gathering of senior military leaders, with the ‘Operation Silent Kill’ exercise. It thrilled the World’s Army Chiefs with the use of armed drones in combating terrorism in Nigeria. It means the Buhari’s security team is indubitably in control of its briefs and indeed working very hard to finally bury the monster of terrorism in Nigeria.
The Nigerian military and especially, the Nigerian Army has earned Nigeria global recognition and accolades on defeating terrorism in just one score. Apart from observing international best practices in their engagement with the civil population, Rules of Engagement (ROE) are strictly observed. There is great improvement in safeguarding the human rights of Nigerians and reduced casualty rate on the part of troops and civilians. And
equally important, Nigerian troops are not just winning the anti-terrorism war anchored on nothing. The excitement to battle terrorism, the high morale, determination and courage they exhibit at all times stems from the inspiration of a fortified welfare and incentives. With immediacy, the commanders decorate deserving and gallant troops with ranks and medals right on the battlefield. Promotion of military personnel is effected as at when due. These are manifestations of a different style and approach to the counter- terrorism warfare, which exudes with military decency and discipline. It obviously has deepened the professional bond of the Nigerian military with other armies and strengthened the relationship between the Nigerian Government and the US Government.
So, detractors are free to run their partisan and sentimental commentaries on the Nigerian military. But it does not obliterate the footprints of progress on the anti-terrorism war.
Richards Murphy is a security consultant based in Calabar.