By Philip Agbese
Whether it was borne out of his operational knowledge or out of belief driven decisiveness, the directive by Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt Gen Tukur Buratai to troops fighting in the northeast to deal Boko Haram the final blow turned out to be prophetic. It was similar to the scenario that played out in Exodus 14:13 ‘And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.’
Boko Haram put more fear into Nigerians than the Egyptian overlords put in the Israelites. Few ever anticipated that the terror group would be defeated in their own lifetime. Many had concluded that the scourge is something that has come to stay.
This was what made the COAS’ directive prophetic in its daring forecast. Even at that many people were sceptical at the time Buratai saw into the near future. The scepticism may be explained in part as the product of the intense propaganda mounted by Boko Haram sympathizers whose efforts were boosted by the desperate attacks staged by the militant wing to give the impression that the terror group was still invincible.
Added to this are the various stories and videos published in some mainstream media and pliant online platforms to create the impression that the Army was fighting a losing battle. On top of that was the collective pessimism among a population of those that have been conditioned to believe their country cannot run its own affairs the right way. Friday December 24, 2016 proved otherwise. The Army took the last Boko Haram camp in Sambisa Forest, effectively ending the insurgency and defeating the terrorists.
Only the officers and men of Operation of Lafiya Dole could have easily decoded Buratai’s directive as a clear indication of an imminent end of the war based on their military training and the knowledge they have of him during his many outings with them in the trenches. Under other circumstances those that gave up hope would have been right in thinking that Boko Haram’s reign of terror will never come to an end. Afterall, countries that should sell weapons and military gears to Nigeria repeatedly declined citing trumped up reports of abuses.
Another great threat to Nigeria’s sovereignty at the height of the war on terror were the activities of foreign NGOs like Amnesty International that desperately worked to stall any progress in defeating the terrorist by effectively mounting propaganda for them. It was a vicious circle. Amnesty International fabricated reports on which countries based their decision not to sell equipment to Nigeria and the NGO then cite refusal to sell equipment as proof that Nigerian troops were committing atrocities. The group’s questionable reports were usually launched to coincide with whenever troops were poised to carry out decisive offensive – demoralising the troops was the desired outcome of such manoeuvres.
Furthermore, dark forces against the war on terror were the intellectual and cyber wings of the terror group that consistently muddled the issue on social media and online platforms. These were the people that produced slick videos to create the impression that the war was being lost. Of course, they had the assurance of being given publicity by western affiliated online newspapers that hide under ethics and a commitment to report all side to support the terror group. These are the enemies that should receive special attention now that fighters of the group’s militant wing is are in flight – they are the ones that will attempt reviving fear using any attacks that the fleeing losers can launch as pivot for unleashing national hysteria.
The desperation to keep Boko Haram in place was frantic as it became apparent that there were also those that want the terror group to thrive just so that it can be milked for financial gains as evident from the armsgate scandal in which billions of naira were being fleeced in the guise of buying weapons under the former administration. Those that make money from phoney negotiations and peace talks that led nowhere. The refusal of the Army and the Federal Government to again fall for the cheap tricks was highly condemned by those who would have been beneficiaries of the resulting fraud. These set of people have been hungry for a while since the government resorted to not paying criminals and their hunger will breed more desperation that we must all be on the look out for.
We must look across our borders. Our neighbours have not shown a capacity that correspond to ours in dealing with this terrorists, and we must immediately eliminate the possibility of Boko Haram re-grouping in another country. This is thus the time to ramp up our participation in the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to take advantage of the alliance in pursuing the fleeing terrorists into any neighbouring country to enter into.
We cannot risk not incinerating the snake now that its head has been cut off since the kind of leadership that gave us this victory is rare. It’s obvious that we won the war with the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari as Commander in Chief of the Armed Force with his right choice of military chiefs, whose appointments signalled the beginning of the end for Boko Haram. That decision was crucial to now finally sealing our victory with the decisive leadership of General Buratai. Nigerians are appreciative of the efforts as demonstrated by a father of twin boys born in one of the suburb of Abuja who named them Buhari and Buratai in appreciation of the selfless efforts of the present administration.
It is a victory that has united both hailers and wailers. Even the Chief Mourner of GEJ’s failed administration, Reno Omokri, who ordinarily would have been denial as a leader of the disgruntled was forced to say a big thank you to the Nigerian Army and the Federal Government.
In conclusion, the Nigerian Army which pride itself as the “Pride of the nation” has proven that this description is beyond rhetoric. The exploit of the troops of the Nigerian Army is thus rightly being celebrated. State governors and other notable persons have been ending congratulatory messages to Mr President, COAS and the Nigerian Army.
The euphoria of Boko Haram’s defeat being delivered as our New Year gift must however not make us forget to do the needful. The sacrifices that made the war succeeded must never be ignored and not be forgotten. Members of Operation Lafiya Dole without any hesitation should be promoted by at least one rank including those that paid the supreme price being posthumously so honoured and the difference reflected in the entitlements payable to their families.
Agbese writes from the United Kingdom.