By Best Agbese
In the last one decade, Nigeria has been a country troubled by insecurities. It is assailed by several internal conflicts and crises which have exalted the strength of nationhood. What has battled more than a few is the vested interests by some external and evil nations in promoting terrorism in Nigeria.
The agenda of destabilization and instigation of a possible break-up of Nigeria is pursued with vigour. Nigeria would have been crumbled as a nation through the bondage of insecurities imposed on the country by Boko Haram terrorists; violent separatists’ campaigners, bile militancy, ethno-religious extremists, armed bandits and cattle rustlers, communal clashes, kidnappers and other assorted forms of criminalities.
And the sociological character of these criminally violent acts indicate politically motivated and instigated crises by sponsored armed criminals to clatter Nigerians, in alliance with foreign agents of destabilization. They are programmed to pierce a sharp knife of division and disunity among the people. It has been tough, disgusting and frustrating.
But Almighty God has always been faithful in the protection of Nigeria by preparing the country to face all eventualities. And that’s the only reason the country has remained one unified and unbreakable sovereign nation.
Therefore, anytime insecurities accentuate to dangerous levels, the country is blessed with a leader and a Nigerian Army to come to the rescue at its most critical moments. When the Chief of Army staff, and tsar of the counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai launched innovations and imposed reforms on the Nigerian Army, not many Nigerians sighted his wisdom.
The end result has been the repositioning of Nigerian Army into a professional, responsive, disciplined, patriotic, loyal, humane, courageous and gallant soldiers, alive to their constitutional responsibilities of defending Nigeria at all times. The soldiers of Nigerian Army are active conquerors of terrorists; consuming fires of armed bandits, the nemesis of armed separatists’ agitators, the soothing balm of ethno-religious warlords, a thorn in the flesh of violent militants and the symbol of phobia for the plethora of armed criminals terrorizing the country.
Nigeria is one African country indubitably, the most tormented by terrorism, before the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, Boko Haram insurgents pranced the landscapes of Nigeria, as unchallengeable demigods. Insurgents threw Nigerians into a perpetual wailing chamber as they designed and launched horrendous atrocities as well as gruesome killings of Nigerians.
Compatriots were abducted freely and their communities annihilated unmolested. Boko Haram had erected a country in a country within the territorial boundaries of Nigeria. They boasted virtually every week in released videos about their invincible prowess and derisively mocked the people, the Army or government, as untouchables of the warfront.
From the North to the Southern fringes of the country, incensed Boko Haram insurgents roared and proudly resonated the sounds of war on Nigeria. But the incensed terrorists have lost this voice of braggadocio and strength. Only those who are blindfolded by partisanship have refused to see the impacts and of course, they will never sight it, even if the positive images of valour of Nigerian Army is rubbed on their eyelids.
Pleasurably, the nonsense of terrorists ended when Gen. Buratai came on the stage to led the war against insurgency. He is famed as a dogged professional soldier and prodigious war monger with a million strategies and tactics. He is noiseless, but very proficient and an asset to Nigeria in the battlefield. Gen. Buratai dreads no terrorists’ foes of Nigeria, but uncompromisingly and voraciously munches the beasts in the warfront.
Initially, insurgents undermined the competence of Gen. Buratai because of the disheveled and disoriented Army, the insurgents knew he inherited. Before Gen. Buratai’s arrival as COAS and the special mandate to lead the battle, Boko Haram undermined the entire Nigerian Military.
Regrettably, terrorist’s initial misconception of the Army under a new leadership would soon prove to insurgents that they boobed to their peril. It did not take long before reversal of fortunes on the battlefield against terrorists became a singsong in Nigeria and the international community. Boko Haram insurgents started fudging in the terror war they started against Nigeria.
Gen. Buratai’s invasion of the Northeast with repositioned and professionalized soldiers, Boko Haram had literally dug their graves. Nigerian troops reclaimed all territories they captured and occupied in the Northeast. Soldiers combed every corner of the Northeast, and insurgents lost grounds to Nigerian troops in the battlefield, with each passing day. Terrorists squealed in the warfront like trapped animals, a fate they least envisaged would befall them.
Soon Boko Haram factional leader, Abubakar Shekau, his top commanders and foot soldiers realized no part of Nigerian territory offered them a base or protection to assemble and come out to unleash terror on Nigerians.
With Gen. Buratai leading the battle which unraveled the dreary myth of Sambisa forest and leveled it to the ground, Shekau and his comrades discovered their last shelter had been seized by the Army. Terrorists scattered in search of safety in distant and neighbouring lands like Chad, Cameroun and Niger republics.
For Abubakar Shekau, escaping the Northeast assailed everywhere by Nigerian soldiers was an uphill task. He could no longer hold his pride, but disguised like a woman before escaping the vigilance of security agents to seek refuge in the caves and forests of the Cameroun. He became less visible on the battle turf; his hoarse voice of threats also became less audible; and his foot soldiers dreaded the warfront.
And came the Abu Musab Al-Barnewi’s faction of Boko Haram, which specializes in attacking military formations. They equally found the Nigerian Army a nut too difficult to crack. Nigerian troops again faced them ferociously, and humbled the terrorists each day they launched an attack. Many were neutralized and sent to their early graves in the course of battle.
Both the Abubakar Shekau-led faction of Boko Haram and Musab Al-Barnewi faction as well as other emerging terror sects like Ansaru, led by Mamman Nur and hordes of others wanted to retake the Nigerian territories at all cost. But unfortunately for the congregation of terror sects, none could effectively triumph over Nigerian Army. It has been a doomed mission, as rather, the superior might of Nigerian Army enervated and expired them in droves.
While Boko Haram foot soldiers who bowed to the swords of Nigerian Army are countless, scores of insurgents’ top commanders were either captured or surrendered to Nigerian Army. And in the near five years of the counter-insurgency operations in the Northeast, the battle strength of Boko Haram terrorists waned and diminished.
Sensing that the original Boko Haram sect and the splinter terrorism sects which are sponsored to converge on Nigeria could not repress the Nigerian Army to consume Nigeria in their atrocious acts. So, the Musab Al-Barnewi Boko Haram faction had to be energized by their sponsors in Iran. Thus, the Boko Haram faction morphed into the Islamic West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists and with higher sponsorship from the external agents of the devil.
ISWAP has powered the operations of the weakened Musab Al Barnewi’s Boko Haram sect in both foot soldiers and weapons supply. But for nearly a year of operations in Nigeria, the mission to recapture Nigeria has remained futile to terrorists. The desperation of terrorists in Borno state, at the fringes of Lake Chad area is borne out of the burning anger of terrorists’ frustrations in the battle.
Nigerian troops have come this far in the counter-terrorism operations even without the assistance of external armies physically on the battlefield. Nigerian Army has maintained its positive records of super performances even in international Peace Keeping Missions, across the globe and variously acknowledged by foreign countries and world organizations like the United Nations (UN).
Nigerian soldiers have etched its name in gold as the pride of Africa on warfare, as evident in their confrontation of the combination of Boko Haram insurgents and the external terrorists’ godfathers. Nigerian Army has gallantly held them headlong and triumphantly on the frontlines. Some security experts have even rated Nigerian Army as one of the best in the world.
Agbese is a PhD student at University of Dundee,Scotland, United Kingdom.