By Thomas Uzah PhD
The Armed Forces of Nigeria and its gallant troops fighting Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists in the northeast Nigeria, are not anybody’s weeping child. Officers, Soldiers ratings and airmen and women who are making enormous sacrifices for the peace and unity of Nigeria, day and night cannot be disparaged, ridiculed or diminished by Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum and his surrogates or proxies at the Borno State House of Assembly.
Gov. Zulum and the state lawmakers cannot subject the Nigerian Army, the brave and courageous troops in the frontlines to any myopic slight. Sustainably, Prof. Zulum has mastered the act of slight, vilification, denigration and defamation of the Nigerian Army and troops in the frontlines since he became Governor of Borno state.
Often, he unjustly upbraids troops in the frontlines in a tenor which only passes the test of a demented fellow. He has spewed every inanity in blaming soldiers and every other person, except himself, for the unabated scourge of Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorism, which only reigns in Borno state now. Suspiciously, the same Gov. Zulum has refused to tell Nigerians why Borno State remains the only state harbouring terrorists in the country in such magnitude.
Zulum has never spared a minute to reflect on his lapses and inactions for the intermittent resurgents of terrorism in his state. He delights in playing to the gallery to earn public applauses. The Governor has never harkened to the serial and consistently publicized pleas by various groups and eminent personalities to convoke a summit of all stakeholders to dialogue on Boko Haram terrorists and their nefarious activities for some inexplicable reasons. As we all know, military actions alone have never ended terrorism anywhere in the world; but Gov. Zulum has abstinately ignored the needful in such a manner that defied human reasoning.
The Armed Forces of Nigeria and in particular, the Nigerian Army, under the able leadership of the Lieutenant General TY Buratai have been doing a marvellous job in the counterterrorism and counterinsurgency efforts of this great nation. They have been doing so professionally and diligently, devoid of sentiments or partiality. The Armed Forces of Nigeria are not politicians, but professional soldiers and they have remained true to type for the benefit of our democracy, national unity, safety and security . It is therefore inexplicable for Governor Zulum and cahoots in Borno State House of Assembly to infuse politics into the counterterrorism and counterinsurgency efforts of this country through myopic and petty sentiments to score a needless point by singling out of a police officer for recognition and honour, thus dragging the image of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies into disrepute by portraying them as unworthy for such gesture.
No one would suffer any nightmare, if Gov. Zulum decides to bring his name and the exalted office he holds in public trust into disrepute by honouring the commander of the disbanded FSARS, CSP Ibrahim Mohammed. But is it inexcusable, absolute miscalculation, absurd, senseless and demeaning for Gov. Zulum to instruct and supervise the honouring of the Ex-commander of the scrapped FSARS and tie the reasons to his “enormous” impacts in the fight against Boko Haram merely to spite and slight troops in the warfront?
With this act, we hope that the Governor is not proving observers right about ethnic coloration of the Boko Haram terrorists saga. Regardless of bias and sentiments, that’s not how to slight soldiers who are spending sleepless nights in the trenches, forests and swamps of Borno state to give Nigerians peace and security and defend them from Boko Haram/ ISWAP terrorism. Quite curiously, Gov. Zulum never acknowledged the so-called gallantry of the FSARS commander and his team, while his “impactful salvaging” actions on the counter-insurgency lasted.
But Zulum only remembers to adore the FSARS Ex-commander with garlands, months and probably, years after these imaginary acts of bravery and at a time the FGN proscribed this discredited unit of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF). It is a resentful misstep for Gov. Zulum to inject his pro-FSARS partisan campaigns into the security arena in his state and the Northeast at large.
Gov. Zulum can be a pro-FSARS campaigner or its apostle, but no one gives a honk. But it is not acceptable for Zulum to continue to undermine the integrity, professionalism and sterling efforts of our gallant troops in the frontlines, many of whom have paid the supreme price only to be rewarded with such callous insults from the political leadership of Borno State.
Some Nigerian politicians are truly shameless. It is confounding and infantile hypocrisy that Zulum would today chant eulogies of FSARS and their alleged effectiveness on the anti-terrorism combats. But it was only yesterday, the same Gov. Zulum blamed soldiers for the attack on his convoy; he didn’t remember to call his super-hero, the FSARS commander. Whenever Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists sneak an attack on any village in Borno, Zulum does not call his super-hero to rise to the occasion, but the Nigerian soldiers he love to hate.
And a few days ago, and before the disbandment of FSARS, Gov. Zulum who has turned a military and warfare expert, sent a public advice to the Nigerian Army, asking them to take the war to the doorstep of the insurgents. It was not the super-commander or super cop of the outlawed FSARS he summoned to the task. There is no scintilla of doubt now that Zulum knows everything hidden about the resurgent terrorism in Borno, but he is not telling Nigerians.
However, plainly, Gov. Zulum must be reminded that he knows nothing about the matrix of terrorism warfares or else, he would have recalled that Gen. Buratai launched the Super Camp strategy in the counter-insurgency operations since 2019. What is Zulum’s understanding of this warfare strategy to now mouth about taking the war to the doorstep of the insurgents? He did not give the advice to his super cop?
Some people are under the delusive illusion of knowing everything under the sun and Gov. Zulum is a classic example. It is now very discernible and glaring, Gov. Zulum’s unpretentious subversion of the counter-insurgency war. His demeaning and disreputable public howls on troops in the frontlines are carefully designed gimmicks to veil his shadows of sabotage in the counter-insurgency operations. It is not surprising that some experts are calling for a state of emergency in the state.
The Governor must understand certain things clearly. Nigerians will not tolerate myopic and teleguided politicians like Zulum to distract soldiers fighting the Boko Haram insurgency by infusing dangerous politics into security matters. Again, no one nurses any grouse against honouring anybody who works hard towards national or even community development! There is no envy of whatever hue.
But Zulum’s honour to the disbanded FSARS commander is different and drapes with insidiously destructive undertones! Certainly, there’s more to it than meets the eye in the honour extended to the disbanded FSARS chief in Borno, for his alleged contribution towards taming the Boko Haram menace. There are a few posers for Gov. Zulum and his bunch of co-travellers in the State Assembly.
Firstly, when has the Borno State Government or any of its institutions ever deemed it worthy to honour gallant troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, particularly those gallant officers of Nigerian Army and other sister security agencies in this honourable manner, for their extraordinary gallantry and sacrifices in the theatre of war against insurgency? Could it have been an oversight or a deliberate indifference by Zulum as today’s unfolding events have justified?
In truth, did it genuinely escape the mind of Gov. Zulum that this sort of selective treatment is not capable of demoralizing the gallant troops, that have continued to make sacrifices in defence of their fatherland? Really, what’s the underlying motive behind this ‘coveted’ honour extended to the former SARS Chief on the floor of hollowed chambers of the Borno State House of Assembly?
Is this so-called honour not really aimed at mocking and undermining the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies sacrificing daily in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists all these years, with the unuttered statement, but loudly expressed in the action of the honour to the FSARS commander, aligning excellence in the war on terror to the discredited and disbanded police outfit? With this publicized action and the impression emanating from it, is it not wise counsel for Mr. President to unban FSARS and deploy all its members to the warfront in the northeast, withdraw the Armed Forces and other security agencies from the Borno State?
The worse plague among a people is the politicization of serious security issues. Gov. Zulum and the Borno State Assembly have wittingly indulged in this mess. Borno communities under the menace of insurgency are really unfortunate. Whilst they look afar for the enemy tormenting their lives; their greatest enemies are in-house as symbolized by Gov. Zulum and the State Legislature. In the twosome, lies the perfect imagery of saboteurs of the counter-insurgency operations who have weaponized every instrument to ensure Boko Haram insurgency persists in the state.
Uzah PhD is head of department, Mass Communication, Kwararafa University Wukari.