By Israel Abiodun
Abuja the federal capital territory is indeed a beauty to behold. As I sauntered through its well-paved streets, I recall memories of the beautiful time my family and I had before we were forced to relocate in the light of the constant attack by Boko Haram terrorist. I recall that the attacks on the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force and the United Nations building in Abuja were all the conviction I needed to scamper to safety especially with the fact that most of my friends had relocated due to the high-security threats.
The decision was a tough one, given that I had spent the most of my work life in Abuja and built some vital life decisions around the city. But I had to leave just like many others in 2014. I must confess that even while away, my heart was still with the city. I recall that on a couple of occasions, I have had reasons to visit Abuja on short visits to catch up with some friends and old times. And whenever I am meant to return, it felt something was wrong with me. Yes, that was how attached I was with Abuja.
After a long break away and coupled with the understanding of my family, we finally made the excellent decision to return to Abuja. In arriving at this decision, I would say to a large extent, the relative peace that has pervaded the city since 2015 and also with the fact that there hadn’t been any incident of a terrorist attack from 2015 to date contributed immensely.
I give credit to the government of the day, for making this possible in my opinion because the security of lives and property has somewhat been the bedrock of this administration. This much was highlighted even in the ongoing war in North East Nigeria. Thanks to a renewed commitment as displayed by the Armed forces, especially the Nigeria Army.
For some reasons, I am always in praise of the efforts of the Nigeria Army so far in securing lives and properties in Nigeria despite the difficulty usually associated with their operations. This is sufficing to mention that the security threats experienced in Abuja at the time were not only restricted to the Boko Haram onslaught. There were also other forms of dangers that were also encountered. For instance, the influx of small and light weapons into Abuja through the neighbouring states. This trend was nipped in the bud with the checkpoint mounted by soldiers at the various entry points into Abuja. This in my opinion also made it difficult for Boko Haram terrorists to gain entry in Abuja.
I recall an incident when I travelled out of Abuja and was returning by road. Upon getting to the checkpoint mounted by soldiers, the first question the soldiers asked me was “may we know you and your mission to Abuja” I almost stuttered because I was used to the regular regime. I also noticed that in between answering questions, the soldier was scanning everybody in the vehicle with his eyes. At some point, he was silent, and suddenly he uttered: “move.” I must confess that I was impressed.
After we moved some kilometres from the military checkpoint, one of the passengers in the vehicle who noticed my countenance, engaged me a discussion. In the course of the discussion, he mentioned that the presence of the soldiers at the checkpoint is indeed a lifesaver for Abuja and its residents. And I could not agree less with him. Why do I recall all of these incidents? It is merely because normalcy has returned to Abuja and some of us that were forced to leave had indeed returned to the warm embrace of the city we loved dearly.
I am glad I am back to Abuja after about three years of self-imposed exile. And this time around, I am here to stay because normalcy has indeed returned and Abuja has indeed reclaimed its pride of place as the Nation’s Capital.
And if this is all that the present administration has done, I will still give it a pass mark. Without a doubt, security is an enabler of national development. There can be no sustainable development without peace and security. And today, governments across the world and international institutions are becoming more aware of the need to integrate security and development programmes in their policy interventions.
Having said the above, I can go on endlessly on how excited I am having to make a return to Abuja. The feeling is just right as well as the mood. I do not think it is out of place for me to express my gratitude to the government of the day by making this possible through effective counter-terrorism measures that have been put in place. And I thought of ways I could show this appreciation. And one way is penning this article in appreciation.
The Nigeria Army is also worthy of my mention because they have done exceptionally well. They have sacrificed a lot to keep Nigeria safe and secured in line with their constitutional role. I would, therefore, want to use this medium to encourage all those that left Abuja in the wake of insecurity to reconsider their decisions because the city is now safe and secured. I am a living witness to this.
Abiodun contributed this piece from no19 Awulu Street, Karu, Abuja.