By Zika Bobby
Oladimeji Odeyemi is the President of the National Committee of Yoruba Youth (NCYY). The security expert and member of the Global Agenda Against Terrorism and a columnist with African Journal on Terrorism said the coming of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has brought back confidence and trust in the Nigerian military.
He also spoke on Governor Ayodele Fayose’s attack on the Federal Government, global terrorism and more.
What is your assessment of the current war against terrorism in the North East?
Let me first congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari and the military, particularly the Nigerian Army for the victory over Boko Haram insurgents in the North East, especially the capture of the notorious Sambisa forest which was once the operational headquarters of the terrorist group. We cannot but also mention that these gallant efforts have led to the recapturing of our hitherto lost territories.
Do you think the Nigerian Army has lived up to its billings in the fight?
You will agree with me that before this administration came on board, particularly the current Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, what we witnessed was near daily controversies on the military operations in the region, which practically made a very large part of the region deserted, with people having no trust, in the capacity of the Army, to protect their lives and properties against the insurgents.
But today, confidence has been rebuilt, many people have returned to their towns and villages. Therefore, I believe that the Army has greatly lived up to expectation and are still doing more.
Governor Fayose recently said that the story of rescue of some Chibok girls by the military was a make-belief, what do you have to say to that?
For those who have keenly followed the personality that Governor Fayose represents, and his continuous outbursts against the military, particularly the Chief of Army Staff, there is no doubt that he has merely been expressing his frustrations, based on his role in the arms purchase scandal during the last administration. So, any personality that was involved in that heist that led to the loss of many of our soldiers will never have reason to believe in any success as may ever be achieved by the Nigerian Army. You must not also forget that Governor Fayose was alllegedly involved in compromising some few bad eggs within the Army, during the 2014 Ekiti governorship election. Now, with the professionalism that General Buratai has instilled in the Army, and another election being in the corner in Ekiti state, you should not look far, before understanding the psychology of a Governor Fayose. I think the fundamental difference between the military, more importantly; the Nigerian Army of the past and now is the professionalism that Lt. General Tukur Buratai has promoted in the Army. This is a man that leads the Army from the front, as Nigerians have seen him demonstrated on several occasions. Today, we have an Army that is making the welfare of our men, who are sacrificing on the field, a priority. Today, we no longer hear stories of diversion of funds meant for equipment and machineries being converted into personal usage. I think the Army deserves commendation on this.
After a period of break, there seems to be reports of pockets of attacks by the insurgents. What do you think is responsible for this?
All over the world, based on my experience and studies, there is nowhere that insurgency has been swiftly eradicated or completely defeated without the society, having elements of desperation to survive by these terrorists, hence, the resort to isolated attacks and desperate actions like we are currently seeing in the North East. Nonetheless, the fact that IDPs camps are being closed and people are returning to their abandoned towns and villages shows that the war is almost over and what becomes important is for the citizens to actively work with the security agencies in identifying the remnants of these elements. By so doing, there will be no hiding place for this ‘left over’ until their activities finally go into extinction.
In what way do you think the populace can assist the military in the war against insurgency?
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. The populace should have absolute trust in the ability and capacity of the military, to protect our territories, lives and properties against any form of aggression, internal or external. We as Nigerians must provide useful information on any suspicious activities to the relevant security agencies. We must also cultivate the habit of appreciating the efforts of our men who are spending their days and nights on the field while some of us have sound sleeps in our various homes. The media I must say have a critical role to play in ensuring that this is achievable.
How do you think the relationship between the Army the citizens can be enhanced?
As an organization, the National Committee of Yoruba Youth has been embarking on a series of advocacy around the country, on the need for the citizens to corporate with the Nigerian Army and other security agencies, in order to ensure that our country becomes more secure and we live together under an atmosphere devoid of suspicions and hostilities. Let me also say again, that the media is crucial in this drive, because it is purely an orientation issue and we cannot downplay the strategic role of the media in getting the citizens rightly informed.