.My New year Epistle to Nigerians
By Philip Agbese
This present generation has had their diaries well filled with details of their vivid share in first-hand history experience of insurgency in their life time, in which these verbose experiences may well be defined by the success or failure of the anti-terrorism efforts across our country. Since al-Qaeda first emerged in 1988 and subsequently carried out attacks on American soil in 2001, terrorism has manned the stage as its religious oriented versions spread across the globe. Rescuing the world from the mindless savagery, which is the hallmark of terrorism, requires sincerity and focus.
However, it also requires that differences are set aside to deal with what is proving to be a long- term threat to the survival and continuity of the human race. The terrorists had grown to their strongest when these same parties had been at each other, which go to prove that terrorism requires a divided society to thrive. Undoubtedly, we would say that insincerity, disunity, low level of transparency, and disruptive solidarity in our armed forces has been the bane of their existence over time before the current service chiefs were appointed under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. This has made them looked like a rooted mountain which is unmovable.
Tragically, much like the early days of fighting ISIS, when nations and world powers were divided on how to proceed, Nigeria’s war against terrorism has been massively crippled by the factors that have handed the advantages over to terrorists. The early days of Boko Haram, when the terror group could have been nipped in the bud, were characterized by denial and blame trading. It was a season when those who should have effected changes were more interested in finding faults and persons on whom to pin a complex problem. The halfhearted tactics and approaches adopted at that time allowed Boko Haram to thrive and to commit acts of terror without hindrance or being halted.
The national awakening to the true evil nature of Boko Haram in recent years has fortunately been matched by a military that is committed to defending the country from terrorists. This development has seen genuine efforts to fight terrorism even amidst intractable problems that tend to make solutions futile, simply on account of the divisiveness that persists even in the face of the threat to the collective wellbeing of the Nation.
Instead of seeing Boko Haram and other terror groups as the enemies, Nigerians are being manipulated into seeing the military as their enemy while inconsequential differences like religion and ethnicity are highlighted to the zenith.
I applause the statement made by Lt. Gen. William G. Pagonis, which goes thus, “Combat is never a comfortable or enjoyable experience and can’t be made so. But the soldier who is eating well, has adequate supplies and modern equipment, and also feels that he is being supported both by the Army and the civilian population, will perform far better than the one who feels neglected.”
President Muhammadu Buhari has been working tirelessly in order to bring the country Nigeria out of the rubbles and dirt the past administrations had brought it down to. It is therefore surprising to hear a cleric spit out baseless criticisms and vile statements aimed at the President and his administration.
Bishop Kukah’s statements at the funeral mass for a seminarian who was killed after he and some others were kidnapped from a seminary in Kaduna state were nothing but fallacious statements aimed at aiding inimical propaganda and create unnecessary hostility. The statements made by the bishop was only intended to demoralize the president, the service chiefs and other members of parliament who have relentlessly given their all to the country in spite of the many challenges that they face. This is a very mindless act to stir up rancour in the hearts of Nigerians.
We have all enjoyed a peaceful yuletide thanks to the efficiency and dedicated efforts of the service chiefs. It is imperative to note that these crop of service chiefs which the bishop so blatantly criticized have made numerous achievements than all their predecessors in the history of Nigeria. These men were appointed at a time when the Nigerian military was in shambles and on the verge of being overrun by these barbaric terrorists. In spite of all these, they have successfully restructured the Nigerian military and shaped it into one of the best in the world. Today our children can enjoy and celebrate the season in peace.
We all know that the people of Nigeria are highly religious people and they follow the teachings of their various religious leaders. In lieu of this, It is highly immoral and witless for Mr Kukah to use his seat as an instrument to create discord and tarnish the image of the Nigerian government. No religious leader should use his position to propagate malicious propaganda as Mr Kukah has done. It is a big shame to the bishop and doesn’t speak well of the Christian community. The bishop is a man people admire so much, but his malicious comments are rather unfortunate. His statements are misleading and only serve to pulverize the confidence and love the citizens of Nigeria has for the current president and his administration. Mr Kukah should use his pulpit to spread the gospel rather than to carry out the biddings of disgruntled elements who are ‘Anti-Buhari’. The bishop would do well to remember that the pulpit is for the gospel and not for politics.
In contrast to Mr Kukah’s statements, Nigeria’s economy is on the steady rise under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. Insecurity is gradually being defeated, and there has been a significant decline in unemployment compared to about six years ago. President Muhammadu Buhari is not a magician who could just wave a wand of leadership and all the current problems of Nigeria would go away. It is a very daunting task and doesn’t take a short time for any leader to correct many years of mistakes and poor leadership by past administrations.
The year 2020 has left the nation unperturbed about the news of insurgency, but only by political aspirational battles which they masked with the name “INSURGENCY” in vile manner in order to destabilize President Mohammadu Buhari’s regime, unlike how heartbroken it has been in recent years.
Unlike the vivid happenings that persisted for more than ten years now, the dreaded and blood-thirsty members of the insurgent group called Boko Haram have held the nation and some African states in the jugular. They have continued to spill blood and bile, kidnap, rape and rob, especially in the North Eastern part of the country and beyond, without restraint.
On their part, the Nigerian armies have embraced the challenge with vigor, and vivacity. They have exhibited unequalled and unrestrained gallantry. They have put their lives on the line to see to the end of insurgency and banditry which they fought tooth and nail.
As reported by The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the President addressed the issue of insurgency this year in the Combined Passing Out Parade for 67 Regular Course and Short Service Course 46 (Army) at the Nigerian Defence Academy , Kaduna.
The President was the reviewing Officer during the passing out parade
“We remain focused in the fight against insurgencies arm banditry and others forms of criminality across the nation. “ We remain committed to ending the security challenges bedeviling the country.“ I am confident that the training received by the passing out cadets has adequately equipped them to face any challenges in their line of duty. ”
Buhari noted that the cadets had gone through rigorous and demanding tasks, and were undoubtedly infused with a sense of self-esteem, efficacy and accomplishment
Global Amnesty Watch also revealed why the Nigerian military has been able to sustain its victory over insurgency within the year. The UK-based organization also revealed that from its findings, the military operation in the northeast has successfully liberated the towns and villages that came under the control of insurgents. According to GAW, the military has been able to achieve all these feats due to its highest level of transparency and intelligence in this present administration.
Part of the success recorded in these years was how the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole in the North-East have engaged some Boko Hara terrorists who attempted to infiltrate the Nigerian Army location at 3 Battalion in the Gamboru area of Borno state, during which scores of the fighter were shot dead. The troops seized three gun trucks, two anti-aircraft guns, two AK-47 rifles and one rocket propelled grenade tube from the insurgents.
Before the current president assumed office, the evil Boko Haram sect and other clandestine forces rained havoc especially in the Northern Eastern Part of Nigeria. Bomb explosions and senseless killings were left unchecked by the Nigerian military due to poor leadership back then. But today, we saw the gallant act by the Chief of Army Staff who relocated to the North-Eastern part of Nigeria in order to lead the war against terrorism at the forefronts.
The president has done his best to combat corruption, tackle insecurity, tackle unemployment, grow the economy and many others. He has made significant progress in all these areas despite the many challenges he has been faced with. Let us all shy away from criticizing the government at every given opportunity. Let’s give the president more time to heal the broken bones of our country Nigeria. Let us also work together to provide all the necessary support that he needs in order to achieve this.
By now, we should understand that what Baba has achieved so far is to first rescue the nation from drowning into oblivion. He has spent his first 4 years rebuilding the nation from its decay, and now it’s time to build on that foundation.
Amidst the passion and vibrancy of the Nigeria armed force put into this fight, and amidst the emotions shared with every broken bone, the President, Muhammadu Buhari has pledge his unending support in cash, kind and military equipment purchase, in bid to foster peace and unity in the country by putting an end to insurgency and Banditry. Healing will come in 2021, let’s give PMB all the unending support needed to achieve this vision.
Agbese is a human rights activist based in the United Kingdom.