By Brown Adeyemi
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayer, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” 1 Timothy 2:1-2.
I am excited about the happenings in North-East, Nigeria. I also marvelled at what I saw on the ground, which is a complete departure of what we read on the pages of newspapers every day. I must add that I was somewhat confused and wondered if it was the same North-East Nigeria that was ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgents that I had visited.
In Nigeria, we must admit that it has been such a herculean task when it comes to leadership. Since the advent of our democratic experience in 1999, Nigerians have reeled under various leaders whose actions and inactions brought out the best, as well as the beast in us. In all of these, I can’t help but heap praises on President Muhammadu Buhari for his leadership strides, especially in the rebuilding of the economy of North-East Nigeria.
I know some might be wondering why I started this piece with prayers from the scriptures. Some might also want to ask what is in North-East Nigeria that is worth celebrating given the wanton level of destructions occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency. But I have a shocker for this category of people.
Since the Boko Haram crisis started in North-East, Nigeria, it has been quite an emotional one for me having lived my childhood years in the region. In those years, I recall how we use to transverse Borno to Yobe, Gombe and Bauchi States. I also remember how bubbly the region was in terms of agricultural activities and when its harvest time it is also a beehive of activities with Nigerians from various parts of the country trooping en masse to for commercial purposes. Then boom. All of that stopped and the order of the day was sorrow, tears and blood—quite a sad episode.
Since then, I hadn’t had the opportunity to revisit North-East Nigeria until recently when I took the bulls by the horn and embarked on a road trip from Abuja. Even though I was advised against a road trip, I still went ahead. I must confess that it was worth every inch of it and I indeed fed my eyes with nature at its purest form given the fact that we are in the raining season.
Life has indeed returned to North-East, Nigeria. Farming activities have commenced in droves, and, amazingly, this fact in North-East Nigeria does not make front pages in the newspapers. All through my journey through states in the North East, I would say that the presence of security operatives on the highway was minimal. You could travel for close to 50-kilometre stretch before encountering soldiers on patrol.
You are not harassed or intimidated. You are only questioned if you looked suspicious. My journey was smooth, and I could not believe my eyes. I also wondered where the bulk of the information from North-East Nigeria emanates from. Could it be that some people somewhere sit in the comfort of their offices and conjure situations in their heads and pass such misinformation to the general public?
I also wondered why the governors of states in the North East also have not found it expedient to tell the real situation of things in the region. Maybe they find it politically necessary for such silence. But whatever be the case, and with what I saw on the ground in North-East Nigeria, my joy knew no bound and I could not but sing the praises of President Muhammadu Buhari to high heavens.
For those that have not had the opportunity to visit any of the states in North-East Nigeria, it might sound too good to be true that indeed peace had returned to the region. But that is what it is, and all credit must go to President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as the Nigerian Military for bringing hope alive and for ensuring that the activities of the Boko Haram insurgent group are curtailed to the barest minimum.
In all of my stay during the trip and the places I visited in these states, I must add that there is however an urgent need for infrastructural development in some of the communities that were left devastated during the thick of the Boko Haram crisis. The various states government must rise to this occasion by ensuring that these destroyed infrastructures are rebuilt to complete the resettlement process in these communities. This is on the fact that since there has been the massive return of those that were displaced back to their communities; it would only be fair if the government ensures that life returns to normalcy for them through the provision of necessary infrastructures.
My experience in North-East Nigeria is worth the while, and I am glad that President Muhammadu Buhari has indeed provided that leadership needed in the country to overcome our challenges. The experience has also opened my eyes to the realization that the task of making Nigeria great is not for the leaders alone. It is a task that requires all hands to be on deck and without exemption.
I also wondered who would have ever thought that the situation in North-East Nigeria can improve with the experiences of past administrations where over 16 local government areas were under the control of the Boko Haram insurgents, where monies meant for the prosecution of the war ended up in private pockets while the casualty figures increased dramatically daily.
I must also add that if the Muhammadu Buhari administration had continued in the same fashion as previous administrations, restoring peace and normalcy in the North East region would remain a mirage for eternity. If the leadership of the Nigerian Military had diverted monies meant for the welfare of troops, as well as the purchase of arms, displacing the Boko Haram group from their operational headquarters in Sambisa forest would have been grossly impossible. And if the Nigerian Army has not risen to the occasion, my trip by road to states in North-East Nigeria would have been impossible.
I returned from my trip across states in North-East Nigeria with nothing but admiration for President Muhammadu Buhari for his extraordinary efforts towards the return of normalcy to North-East Nigeria. I also commend the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai for the way and manner he has led the troops in confronting the Boko Haram threat since 2015 and for no betraying the trust of the people unlike in times past.
What the generality of Nigerians might not be aware of is the fact that the Muhammadu Buhari administration indeed got it right with regards North-East Nigeria and as citizens, we duty-bound to extend our support at all times. We must continue to appreciate the sacrifices of our troops in the trenches that have laboured day and night to ensure that North-East Nigeria is what it is today.
In all of these, I can only pray that God, in His infinite mercies, continues to be with President Muhammadu Buhari as he pilots the affairs of the country. I pray for good health and a sound mind. Indeed President Muhammadu Buhari redefined leadership.
Adeyemi is a development consultant wrote from Lokoja.