By Abel H. Innocent
“In recent times, the Nigerian Army has been doing remarkably well in not only repelling attacks but taking the fight to the enemy and decimating them in their enclaves.”- Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, mni, Borno State Executive Governor.
Without any doubt, within the last ten years, the Nigerian military has been doing well in engaging and containing terrorists and insurgent groups like Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP). It is to the admiration of all that today, the menace of these enemies of humanity have been restricted to the fringes of Lake Chad region, northern parts of Borno State at the borderline with neighbouring countries.
The unprecedented exploits were far more vigorous and noticeable from July 2015 under the current military leadership. The Nigerian Army in particular has greatly improved and changed from “a tactical maneuver force” to a courageous and cohesive one. The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, have rejuvenated, motivated and equipped the Nigerian Army to the extent that the terrorists are now scared of them. The gallant troops have continued to decimate the Boko Haram terrorists sacking them from their erstwhile strongholds and fortresses including the once dreaded Sambisa forest which substantial part of it now serves as a training ground for the military.
This demonstration of valour, patriotism and professionalism leading to the liberation of communities in the Northeast and Lake Chad region which were hitherto held by the insurgents is a thing of pride and highly commendable. It exemplifies the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government in tackling and eradicating the menace of terrorism in the country. It also signifies the Nigerian Armed Forces’ commitment to defending the nation’s territorial integrity, as well as, protection of lives and property of its citizens and residents.
According to some experts, the recent change of tactics and continued onslaught on the terrorists personally led by Lt. Gen. Buratai has resulted in the depletion of about 60 percent of the insurgents’ fighting force, obliterated their equipment and ammunition. They now struggle with cudgels and rudimentary equipment and weapons, rationing ammunition where available. The terrorists’ pathetic situation is expected to further deteriorate as the insurgents daily suffer from sustained military bombardments and crisis of confidence among their rank and files due to the troops’ action.
Frightened by the superior might of the military, worsened by the leadership squabbles among the insurgents, the depleted and disoriented fighting force, coupled with insufficient funding, it is obvious that the odds are high against Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists. And if these parameters are anything to go by, then the end is clearly in sight for terrorism in Nigeria.
Recently, some media organizations reported that the jihadists are using back channels to request for amnesty and soft landing. It was reported that the self-acclaimed leader of the Jamatu ahli Sunnah aka Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, has personally sent emissaries. This could be true given the recent audio message in which Shekau was sounding hysterical and pitiful. While this may sound interestingly flattering, due caution is advised. This is because on 28th April 2020, the Spokesman of the MNJTF Col. Timothy Antigha disclosed that intelligent sources revealed plans by terrorists to recruit young males to restock their holdings. He further stressed that the recruitment drive will either be by cajoling, inductrinating or kidnapping of the would be recruits. Apparently, with Col. Timothy’s expose’ it is clear that a leopard can never change its skin. Despite these cheering news, it behooves on every citizen to come on deck, join hands with the military and other security agencies to finally eradicate this monster Boko Haram.
It is however gladdening to observe that the entire citizens of the Northeast have become tired of the menace of insurgency that has raveged the region for over a decade resulting to loss of countless of lives, displacement of millions of citizens and massive destruction of infrastructure. Most residents of Borno and Yobe States are showing more commitment and are stressing that they are willing to assist security agencies to expose elements working for terrorists who live among them. They equally express their delight and optimism in the current onslaught by the military as a final defeat of the insurgents.
Part of a way to achieve this, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Nigeria’s Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy warned recently that terrorist organisations now recruit foot soldiers through the social media. He advised that the only way to stop recruitment is to discredit — indeed, utterly demolish — terrorists ideology. If young people think terrorists’ ideas are a bunch of baloney, they’ll ignore them and won’t join the cause.
Whatever happens, we the teeming youths of the North East have now vowed to be united in the fight against our arch enemies with total resolve to ending terrorism within the region.
Abel H. Innocent writes from Madagali, Adamawa State.