SUSTAINING THE WAR AGAINST TERRORISM IN NIGERIA

Chika Eze, Abuja

Time and again, the military in Nigeria has assured Nigerians and the international community that the war against the Boko Haram terrorists in the North-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe is in its final stages and the Armed Forces is conducting a mop-up of the insurgents.

In collaboration with the Multinational Joint Task Force, Nigerian troops have effectively demystified the insurgents, taking the war to them right inside their former spiritual headquarters in the Sambisa Forest, an outlay of caves and thick shrubs in Borno state.

The latest onslaught against the insurgents has left many of the terrorists killed, while others have either surrendered to the security forces or fled. Boko Haram leaders or Ameers are also being dug out from their hideouts, arrested in their numbers and are now making useful confessions to the security forces.

For now, alerts have been issued for the escapees. Nigerians are also cautiously keeping vigil for suspicious characters and movements. The good news is that all the communities, villages and towns hitherto taken by the insurgents around Sambisa forest have been retaken by the military.

Socio-economic activities are also gradually returning to the strategic towns of Gamboru Ngala, Mafa-Dikwa right down to Fotokol in the Maroua region of Cameroon, have been liberated. Gamboru Ngala, a very strategic town with links to Fotokol International Market, the Central African Republic, Chad and other countries in the region, is now thriving again.

The Nigerian military has also been able to re-open major routes linking major towns within Borno state. Large cache of arms and ammunitions buried in holes in the ground and enclaves previously controlled by the insurgents, foodstuff, vehicles and other logistics have been found and cleared.

More importantly, hundreds of women and children abandoned by the fleeing insurgents have been rescued and are being screened for possible rehabilitation.

At home and abroad, many have hailed the achievements of the Nigerian troops in the last year alone as an unprecedented feat. The successes recorded are undoubtedly attributable to the political will and leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.

On May 29 2015, President Buhari ordered the relocation of the Command and Control Centre to Maiduguri, the theatre of operations. This singular directive changed the tone of the battle as the Service Chiefs have since then been in closer contact with the troops in the theatre of operations. This has enormously motivated and boosted the morale of the fighting soldiers.

The President, a former Army General has since then been focused on mobilising goodwill and support from Nigeria’s neighbours-Cameroon, Chad, Benin and Niger republics, by paying official visits to their respective Presidents to strengthen existing diplomatic ties and garner their collective support against the insurgence in the Lake Chad Basin.

Similar visits to Britain, Germany, France, the United States and the United Nations were devoted to not only rallying global support for the war on insurgency and terrorism but also garnering endorsements from Nigeria’s foreign partners for the government’s anti-corruption policies.

The agreements and understanding reached have already begun to yield fruit with assurances of support from the international community for Nigeria’s war against terrorism.

In April, Nigeria and France’s High Defence Committee addressed critical security issues and signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen anti-terrorism co-operation.

Already, plans are in top gear to rehabilitate Internally Displaced Persons and 500 billion Naira has been set aside in this year’s annual budget socio- economic intervention to the very poor and vulnerable people in conflict areas.

The war against terrorism is already being won. Sustaining the victories will no doubt require all hands on deck; the military, the civil society, indeed the international community and especially Nigeria’s neighbours.

 

H.S