By Abubakar Gana PhD
The issue of insecurity has dominated the discourse in Nigeria in recent times. In some quarters it has been stated that the security situation in the country had degenerated and that Nigeria is tilting towards a failed state. This school of thought lent their argument on the perceived crisis in North-East Nigeria with the Boko Haram Insurgency, as well as the criminal activities of bandits and other criminal gangs in North West and some parts of North Central Nigeria.
While it is within the rights of these individuals and groups to bear their minds of burning national issues, however, such must be expressed within the ambit of reasonability and decorum. This piece is a product of extensive research undertaken to understand the efforts of the Muhammadu Buhari led administration in the war against insurgency in Nigeria and other forms of criminalities.
Flashback to 2014. Nigeria was on the brinks; the Boko Haram insurgents ran riots in North-East Nigeria as well as other parts of the country including the federal capital territory, which indeed witnessed scores of Boko Haram attacks on critical government infrastructures.
Nigerians were held spell-bound by the daring nature with which the Boko Haram group and other criminal elements altered our socio-economic life at the detriment of sustainable peace and development. Nigerians from all walks of life lived in fear not knowing where the next bombs were going to detonate. It was such a sorry sight as the government of the day seems clueless and with no solution in sight with regards addressing the challenges posed by the criminal activities of the Boko Haram groups as well as other criminal elements.
This is also aside from the fact that the Boko Haram group was gradually making good their threat of establishing caliphates in North-East Nigeria as well as other parts of the country. It was that bad and not until the coming on board of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria would have caved into the pressure mounted by the Boko Haram insurgents and there would have been no country called Nigeria today.
In all sense of fairness, I think the assessment of the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in the area of security has not been objective. Most times I wonder if we are that blind to miss the many gains recorded in the war against Boko Haram insurgency in North-East Nigeria. I also wonder if Nigerians are not aware that before the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari, Boko Haram controlled over 16 local government areas in states in North-East Nigeria. And maybe Nigerians forgot that at some point in our lives nowhere was safe anymore as the Boko Haram group freely detonates bombs in motor parks, places of worships and other public places not just in North-East Nigeria, even in the Federal Capital Territory.
It suffices to state that before the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari, we had an armed force that was highly demoralized with the lack of fighting equipment and morale to address the security challenges in the country. The Boko Haram insurgents indeed demystified all that the Nigerian Army was known for in terms of professionalism. Yes, it was that bad. But today the same cannot be said.
And this is where I am of the considered opinion that indeed President Muhammadu Buhari has demonstrated a strong political will towards addressing the various security challenges in the country. The exploits of the Nigerian Army in the prosecution of the war against terrorism is just one example that Nigerians ought to highlight in their assessment of President Muhammadu Buhari.
That aside, the Nigerian Army of today has been transformed into a professional fighting force that has shown outstanding commitment to the preservation of the territorial integrity of the country, as well as its constant interventions in internal security operations in the country. As at the last count, over 40 different operations and exercises have been launched in the last five years by the Nigerian Armed Forces to contain various security challenges across the country. And these operations have been hugely successful.
I take the recent case of Operation Sahel Sanity launched to tackle bandits, kidnappers and other criminal gangs in states in North-West Nigeria. The successes recorded by Operation Sahel Sanity have led to its extension by three months and this time around to cover states in North Central that are experiencing pockets of security challenges.
I can go on non-stop of the successes recorded in the war against insurgency and other militant groups in the country. However, two things stand out for me. They are the fact that no Nigerian territory is under the control of the Boko Haram group, and secondly, since the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari, the capacity of the Boko Haram group to carry out attacks in the Federal Capital Tertiary as well as other states in the country were curtailed to the barest minimum.
We must learn to call a spade a spade in this country if we are desirous of making substantial gains. We must admit where necessary and also commend when necessary. We must not be carried away by the political propaganda that has been ferociously deployed against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to demonize him and pitch the people against him in fulfilment of their evil desires for the country.
I dare say since the return of democracy in Nigeria in 1999; no president has done a fraction of what President Muhammadu Buhari has done in terms of strengthening and repositioning the Armed Forces for better productivity to deal with 21st-century security challenges. In five years, the Armed Forces in Nigeria was transformed into a force to reckon with as evident in the way and manner it has successfully prosecuted the Boko Haram insurgency as well as other security threats in the country. I must also add that available reports indicate that Nigeria’s counter-insurgency operation in North-East Nigeria is now a reference point in counter-insurgency operations.
Gana is a public affairs commentator based in Abuja.