By Sani Mohammed (09090005369 SMS only)
That the Buhari administration has made tremendous efforts towards tackling the nation’s security challenges is often lost to many, but for those living in the North Eastern parts of the country, the reality is different.
They are the ones who have had to contend with the Boko Haram insurgency since 2011, when at the peak of the insurgency, the sect was an occupation force, occupying about eight local government areas in Borno state killing, maiming and kidnapping at will.
Today the Boko haram has no foothold in any part of the North East, the sect has been decimated and largely operates from the fringes of the Lake Chad, attacking opportunistic targets and scurrying back to their hideouts. The ability to congregate and launch coordinated attacks has been taken away from them and the Nigerian military is in complete control of every Nigerian territory in the North-eastern part of the country
Nigerians are witnesses to the committed efforts the administration had made so far, to address the nation’s security challenges. There was a time, not too long ago when the entire nation was under the throes of Boko Haram, that now seems in the distant past. Then even the Federal Capital Territory, the seat of power, was facing grave security challenges. Between 2011 and 2015, there was a general state of apprehension as bombs went off intermittently, striking fear in the hearts of residents.
Only recently the United Nation moved back into its headquarters building in Abuja, which seven years earlier was attacked by Boko Haram killing about 21 of its staff.
It was a major attack that drew the world’s attention to the activities of the set as a result of the audacious nature of the attack. It would be recalled that the UN building suffered a car bomb explosion on August 26, 2011 in Abuja which killed at least 21 and wounded 60.
Before the UN building attack there was also the daring attack at the heart of the nation’s security apparatus when in 2011 the sect attacked the police headquarter building in Abuja. Perhaps the most devastating, in terms of human casualty was the attack by the group on the popular Nyanya motor part in Abuja which reportedly killed over 200 persons and maimed several others.
The inability of the immediate past administration to address the security challenges bedevilling the nation at the time was a major campaign issue in 2015. The situation was so precarious that the 2015 presidential election had to be postponed by about six weeks so as to address urgent security challenges in the North- east for election to take place.
In 2015, national security was a major issue that determined the election in favour of the then opposition. The nation was on edge. It is common knowledge that unless a country is secure, it can’t be governed. This was the situation we barely four years ago and it is a situation many Nigerians have chosen to forget. Without holding fort for the Buhari administration, it however helps to reminded, so that we can understand where we are coming from so that we can use the lessons learned to chart the course of our future.
Addressing the security challenges confronting the nation has been a major plank of the Buhari administration. The troubled North-east region got the immediate attention of the administration, immediately on assumption of office.
A commendable action of the administration was the establishment of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), aimed at confronting the Boko Haram insurgency and combating trans-border crimes in the north east. These efforts is what has stabilised the region and led to the silencing of Boko Haram and curtailed its ability to launch surprise attacks.
The result are self-evident
Today several schools which were hitherto shot down as a result of the activities of insurgents have resumed academic activities. Many of them have been closed for upward of three to four years.
Similarly, as a demonstration of the peace that has returned to the region, scheduled domestic flights now regularly ply the Maiduguri airport. This is coming three years after almost all domestic flights had suspended operations to the city. This means that commercial activities have increase in the city as more people now come to Maiduguri and other cities in the North-east. Major highways like the Maiduguri-Gubio and Maiduguri-Monguno Roads have equally been opened. These two roads which were major arteries to other parts of the state and the North-east in general were closed for over three years as a result of Boko Haram activities.
In the past even heavily armed military convoys plying these roads were not safe as they frequently came under attack. The two roads were laced with Improvised Explosives Devises, IEDs, and armed insurgents. The military must be commended that the IEDs have been cleared and the road made safe for commuters.
Similarly, at the peak of the insurgent, Boko Haram in 2014 declared a caliphate and an Islamic State in the towns and villages it had conquered. Gwoza a major town in Borno was named a caliphate and the headquarters of the sect. thousands were displaced as they scampered for their lives on account of the takeover of their cities. The territorial integrity of the nation was undermined and compromised by Boko Haram
That was the situation barely four years ago. Though it is not yet total victory, it is not out of place to commend the Buhari administration for its commitment to restore a sense of normalcy to these parts of the country. It is heart-warming to note that the Emirs of Askira and Uba, both in Borno State, have returned to their palaces after they were forced to flee in 2014 on account of the Boko Haram insurgency. Meanwhile, El-Kanemi Warriors Football Club have since returned to their home base in Maiduguri, where they now host regular matches, that is several years relocating to Katsina State as a result of the insurgency.
While the import of this narrative may be lost to outsiders, it is certainly not the same with those who have had to live with the reality of the situation between 2009 and 2015. They have had to live everyday of their lives fearing for their lives, wondering if a government still existed at the centre. Today there is a refreshing air of optimisms in Borno state. Reports indicate that more than a million displaced persons have returned to their homes and communities across the state and other parts of the Northeast.
Also of note is that more than 13,000 Boko Haram hostages have been freed from Boko Haram captivity. Those freed from captivity include 106 of the Chibok Girls abducted in April 2014, and 105 of the Dapchi Girls abducted in February 2018. That the Buhari government was able to negotiate the release of these girls is a remarkable feat that should not be swept under the carpet. The government may not have been able to rescue all those that have been victims of kidnapping but for those that have been rescued it means the world to them and their family. These a victories we must celebrate.
The operational capacity of the armed forces have also been enhanced by the administration. In 2016 two AW 101 Helicopters from the Presidential Air Fleet was transferred to the Nigerian Air Force, for deployment in support of Operation Lafiya Dole in the North East.
Also transferred to the Nigerian Air Force were: three Airbus Helicopters H135 and three AS365 Dauphin helicopters, from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as well as the establishment of a Naval Outpost in the Lake Chad Basin and another establishment of the 8 Task Force Division in Monguno to further strengthen military presence in the North East.
These efforts have been deliberate and sustained. The result speaks for itself. Peace is gradually returning to the North-east after several years of uncertainty and insurgency. Irrespective of the discordant tunes out there, those in the North-east feel the changes and are happy, they don’t have to live their lives with fear of their lives. It is however hoped that the successes recorded so far would be the spring board for a sustained push towards the restoration of total peace in Borno state and the entire North-eastern part of the country.