By Sunday Attah
The establishment of the Nigerian Army University in Biu Local Government Area of Borno State by the federal government somewhat came as a surprise to many of us. We wondered why there was a need for a Nigerian Army University as a first and what informed the choice of Biu as a second. All of these contributed a great deal to speculations and insinuations anchored on lack of information and the likes. This article is intended to shed light of the resourcefulness of the Nigerian Army University and the choice of Biu, in Biu Local Government Area of Borno State.
The first question is what necessitated the establishment of the Nigerian Army University? According to information gathered, the university was conceived as a unique university that would be different from conventional universities in Nigeria. The concept is to make it a solution provider and a centre of excellence for a variety of technologically related ventures such as generation and armament production as well as the development of counter-insurgency manuals for use by the Nigerian Military.
The Nigerian Army University is also aimed at promoting research and other means of advancement of knowledge and its practical application to military hardware and software, social, cultural, economic, scientific and technological situations. A brilliant concept we must admit.
In my opinion, the choice of Biu is not only strategic; it goes a long way in bringing to the fore the uniqueness of the community with regards to location and commitment in the prosecution of the war against Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria.
As a first, Biu is a historic town and one replete with historical acts. The story of Biu people is that of resilience, heroism and collectivism and replete with indefatigable leaders, great warriors and heroic personalities. Biu is a fortress town that sits majestically south of Borno on a plateau replete with precipitous cliffs.
Biu is the first city of the Babur/Bura ethnic group and the second most significant urban center and largest local council in Borno State. It is also a provincial hub of commerce and cultural renaissance, and has played a premier role since 1918 when the British colonialists created Biu Division. Currently, it serves as the headquarters of Biu Emirate, comprising of three other local governments: Bayo, Hawul, and Kwaya-Kusar.
Just as in the olden days when warring neighbors found it difficult to penetrate Biu, the town has remained impregnable till date, having defied attempts by the Boko Haram insurgents to seize it. One of the major reasons that accounts for this is the town’s topography. Biu is a 766-metre elevation above sea level. Its altitude is heightened by the fact that no other city around it is so loftily positioned. This vantage visibility has enhances its security such that, whichever route an intruder is coming from, the security agents will be viewing him from the hilltop and repel attacks in devastating fashion.
This suffices to add that all through the insurgency, Biu was never deserted, unlike other communities. The people remained to assist the Nigerian military operations in ways too numerous to mention. It is also instructive to add that the concept of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) originated from Biu. The Civilian-JTF consisted of youths from Biu who allied with the Nigerian Army in dealing deadly blows on the Boko Haram insurgents in the peak of the crisis.
The Biu people displayed resilience as true warriors and never gave a chance to the Boko Haram terrorists. They took the bull by the horn in the early stages of the Boko Haram conflict by ensuring that youths from Biu were not brainwashed into joining ranks with the Boko Haram group. Those that defied were identified and banished from the community. This indeed brought about the desired results and mostly responsible for why Biu remained an albatross for the Boko Haram group whenever they attempt to attack the community and other neighbouring communities. That is the secret of Biu people who remained resilient, firm and peaceful.
So it came as no surprise when the government decided to locate the Nigerian Army University in Biu, which in my opinion is a function of two things; one as a reward for their steadfastness over the years in safeguarding humanity from death and destruction from Boko Haram and two; for the enhancement of the resilience that Biu is reputed for as far as counter-insurgency operations are concerned.
As an aside, I am of the view that all Nigerian communities experiencing security challenges must take a cue from the Biu example in realizing that the task does not rest on the shoulders of the military alone, as all hands must be on deck in ensuring that the activities of belligerent groups are curtailed.
The Biu example is very noteworthy because it indeed brought to the fore the fact that in some instances, the traditional justice is also an effective antidote to insecurity, especially when virtues such as honesty, fairness and discipline are inculcated in the youths at a very early stage. Folktales, widely used in Biu as instrument of education and platform for entertainment, long before the arrival of the British colonizers, had, in no small way, inculcated morals in Biu children, instilled virtues, loyalty, hard work, and honesty, to mention a few, in their parents. It is also my view that the Biu community should be a focus of extensive research by scholars in the development and formulation of counter-insurgency strategies.
I must, at this point, commend the Army authorities for this insight that would, in the long run, yield tremendous results in our counter-insurgency operations. I am sure that if other communities in North-East Nigeria had followed the Biu example, the Boko Haram crisis would have been long over.
That Biu is now benefiting from the fruits of its labour should ordinarily not raise an eyebrow. Instead, it should elicit interest from other communities on ways to contribute its quota to the efforts of the government in tackling security challenges in the country. This is my take. The establishment of Nigerian Army University in Biu is just a way by President Muhammadu Buhari to tell this community that it is good to be good.
The presence of the Nigerian Army University would also go a long way in bringing out the economic potentials as well as the tourist attractions in Biu There is no doubt that Biu is now on the radar and might be the beginning of good things to come. This is also noble in all ramifications.
Attah is a public affairs commentator and could be reached at Sunnybrightattah@gmail.com