The statutory duty of any country’s military is essentially the protection and defence of the territorial integrity of that country from any form of aggression, be it internal or external. This is exactly what the Nigerian military has done with the defeat of deadly terrorist group, Boko Haram.
For over six years, Boko Haram unleashed a reign of terror on Nigerian Northeast States of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe killing, maiming, abducting people, young and old, looting, bombing, overrunning and taking over villages and towns in the process.
By May 2015, Boko Haram had taken over fourteen local government areas in the three states and hoisted their flags there. They deposed traditional rulers and took over their palaces. Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States were entirely on lockdown due to the activities of the insurgents.
The climax of their belligerency was the abduction of over two hundred and fifty teenage girls from their school in Chibok, Borno State. This development attracted local and international condemnation and calls on the group to release the girls, but the militants became even deadlier. Records show that no fewer than two thousand lives were lost and many more were rendered homeless as a result of insurgency in that region.
This was the despicable and hopeless situation in the North Eastern part of Nigeria when President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was inaugurated on 29th May, 2015.
On the day of his inauguration, President Buhari left no one in doubt that the end of Boko Haram and indeed, insurgency in that part of the country had come. In his inaugural speech, the President gave clear orders to the military leadership to relocate their command and control centre to the theatre of operations in the Northeast. This directive was immediately complied with, leading to the eventual fall of the seemingly invincible Sambisa forest.
The Military in an operation code named Operation Rescue Finale under Operation Lafiya Dole took total control of the dreaded Sambisa forest. The fall of Camp Zairo on December 22, 2016 therefore marked the significant end of the insurgent group Boko Haram in the Northeast of Nigeria.
Consequently, many of the insurgents toed the path of reason and surrendered to the superior fire power of the Nigerian armed forces, while the obstinate ones scampered elsewhere for safety.
Normalcy has since returned to the troubled region. Government institutions, schools, roads, markets and other business premises earlier shut as a result of insurgency have reopened.
There have been global commendation of the Nigerian Government and her military for their successful war against insurgency, particularly the United Nations, the US and the UK. The US has now expressed its readiness to support Nigeria and willingness to sell weapons to Nigeria to enable her troops finish up whatever might be remaining of the terrorists. This gesture is heartwarming as such requests by Nigeria was rebuffed by the Obama administration.
Nigeria’s Chief of Army staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai said Sambisa would remain the training centre for Nigerian Army activities and that 21 Armored Brigade will forever be domiciled in Sambisa. The hosting of the 2017 Small Arms championship in the Sambisa by the military was a clear validation that, that vast territory is now under the firm control of the Nigerian Army.
The location of Nigerian Army training centre in Sambisa is significant because military activities in the forest would not only stave-off any form of insurgency there in the foreseeable future, it would also make it difficult for members to regroup in that jungle.
While commending the Nigerian Government and her military for their gallantry, it is very imperative that immediate steps are taken to ensure that remnants of the insurgents do not have the opportunity to regroup.
The recently launched operation Harbin Kunama 2, which means Scorpion Sting, covering the Northwest and North central parts of the country is a right step in the right direction. This military operation is aimed at fishing out all unrepentant Boko Haram remnants that may be hiding in those areas. Since the launch of this operation, many of such insurgents have been apprehended.
The Federal Government and the governments of the affected states must take urgent steps to embark on reconstruction of all infrastructure, houses, facilities and installations as well as rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons brought about by the years of insurgency in the region.
A lot needs to be done to revamp education in the area and ensure that the teeming youth there who are of school age are in school. This will form part of the process of removing street urchins commonly referred to as almajiri from the streets as well as de-radicalizing the youth and giving them a new orientation.
Provision of job opportunities for the army of unemployed youths should be made a priority. This is because the jobless youths, particularly the street urchins are ready sources of recruitment for insurgency.
The military must also strengthen its intelligence mechanism in order to achieve a clinical and unassailable win of the concluding stage of the war against terrorism.