By Idoko Ainoko
Someone said the other day that, “We can never go back to the old days prior to 2015, ” and I asked what he meant by that. It was when he explained to me that his position is based on the security situation in the country prior to 2015 that I got his drift.
Prior to 2015, the security situation in the country was so bad that people move about without being sure of the next minute as planted bombs could explode at anywhere and at any time; suicide bombers could crash into any public space at the slightest chance, and terrorists could launch attacks and overrun any town or community they wish. To make matters worse, these heinous activities were not restricted to the precincts of the fringes of the Lake Chad region where the insurgents were concentrated, but were almost everywhere and in almost all regions.
Major towns like Potiskum in Yobe State; Bama, Monguno and Biu in Borno State; Mubi, Michika and Garkida in Adamawa as well as Kano, Kaduna and the FCT became hotspots of terrorists’ activities.
But 2015 marked a watershed in the improvement of security in Nigeria.
With the inauguration of the current administration and the appointment of the current service chiefs, things took a turn for the better as the bombs stopped, attacks on towns and communities were highly reduced and restricted to certain places while normalcy returned to all parts of the country. The magic that did this from the benefit of hindsight, is selecting round pegs in round holes in the security network of the country.
All the service chiefs are top security personnel who have backgrounds of sterling performances and service to the fatherland unlike in the past when politics dominated such decisions.
Experts in security say this would be about the first time that the three requirement of courage, confidence and commitment would be given due priority in the appointment of service chiefs.
These three, according to time tested records on security, form the basis for appointments into the top echelon of the military the world over and that in situations where any of the two are found in a person, it is considered to be a huge advantage not to talk of having the three in a personnel.
Any commander in chief whose service chiefs come with the three attributes, is considered as not only lucky but well equipped to take care of any eventuality. With the improvement in the security situation in Nigeria and successes recorded in the theatre of operations, one can say without fear of contradiction that it was these three qualities that the President saw in the current set of chiefs before appointing them.
It goes without saying that it is because they have convinced him that he has made the right choice that he decided to retain as it would not be easy finding these attributes in one fell swoop. The first act of courage demonstrated by the service chiefs was moving to the theaters of operation any time action is needed on the battle field unlike in the past when top security officials sit in the comfort of their homes in Abuja and other state capitals giving orders to troops while making more demands for funds.
The service chiefs repeated this recently when they moved to Katsina in the wake of fresh attacks in the Northwest. When the President extended the tenure of the security chiefs, it was gathered that the extension may not be unconnected to a job well done by the service chiefs for ensuring law and order and peace of the country.
It was said that their input made it possible for Nigeria to have elections in all parts of the country but ensure it was crises free. Secretary to the government of the Federation SGF , Boss Mustapha had also expressed same sentiments when explaining why the President is more disposed towards retaining the service chiefs.
He said while the President reserves the right to do as he wished, the security situation in the country requires thorough and meticulous handling. As the security chiefs move to the theatres of operation when the occasion demands, the chief of army staff, Lt. General TY Buratai has been outstanding.
On assumption of duty, the army chief moved to the Northeast and engaged troops in physical drills and warm up exercises before moving with them to forests and other strongholds of the terrorists. He repeated the act in April this year when the insurgents were regrouping to launch attacks on Nigerian communities and since then, it has been one succes story after the other. This shows rare courage as there are layers of command the General would have relied on to get the job done but did not fear the risk to his life and was physically present at the battlefield.
This is at a time troops were running away from the battlefield due to the perception that the insurgents were better equipped than them. But Buratai, knowing that bravery is more important than any sophisticated weapon, used himself to show example to the troops and since then, the story of the fight has not been the same again.
This naturally comes with confidence as even if the courage was there, the troops would not have been motivated if they have not seen the kind of confidence displayed by the Chief of Army Staff.
In the Art of War by Sun Tzu, it was made clear that the battle is won or lost at the level of confidence as even when one has the weapon and the confidence is not there, not much can be achieved. Another thing this shows is commitment to the cause of defending the nation and passion for the realisation of one of the cardinal objectives of this administration, to ensure adequate security for Nigeria and her citizens.
Without the level of commitment that drives an official to apply his skill and talent to a cause, the story in the Northeast would not have been different. All these have helped to make the war against insurgency and terrorism the success it is in Nigeria today. Indeed Nigeria cannot go back to the pre-2015 era of violence and mayhem as it seems to be in safe hands.
Ainoko is a public affairs expert and wrote this piece from Kaduna.