By Nkechi Odoma
On December 18, 2020, an event which held in Abuja enticed Nigerians boundlessly. In leadership, there must be followers and opposers. Today’s Nigeria bows to ill-feelings of the few opposers who sneer or crucify Government. It’s not necessarily because they know the ingredients of the issues which have become points of criticisms.
Most critiques or jibes thrown at Government sounds as hollow as the voice of the Yoruba traditional talking drum. It resonates acoustically; and very appeasing to the ears; but with very little meaning to the uninitiated. It’s a world of the critics and the minions.
Disappointingly, very few Nigerians have become the uninitiates of the Yoruba talking drum, on Government affairs as postulated by critics. Rightly, it is democracy, which embodies inalienable rights to freedom of expression. The unthoughtful ones are at the mercy of the few loud voices of pointless criticisms of Government. Both the critics and their followers end up disgracing themselves by the display of scant knowledge of the issues which qualify for their subject of criticisms.
Astoundingly, the few Nigerians with disfigured or partisan senses pukes vitriols to those willing to listen to their thrash that President Muhammadu Buhari has scored zero on security of Nigerians. After five years? Really, they can’t see it? Yesterday is forgotten easily and it’s a taboo to mention today’s realities of positive impact on insecurities. It’s peculiarly, a Nigeria trait!
So, the dimwitted believe the vituperations of President Buhari by the nasty opposers, without any attempt at verification. However, it’s unfair to push the blame to the initiators and the gullible acolytes now. It would be premature.
That’s why there was a lot of sense in the one-day seminar/conference organized by Global Amnesty Watch Foundation (GAWF) in conjunction with the Center for International and Strategic Studies (CISS) for targeted rights activists and campaigners purposely identified as CSOs, NGOs, conflict managers, social media influencers and the rest. The list was really long!
It focused on President Buhari’s counter-insurgency combats with Boko Haram insurgents and ISWAP terrorists in Nigeria, specifically, Northeast in 2020. It thrilled the globe infinitely. The theme was “Appraising the Buhari Administration and the War Against Insurgency: Year 2020 in Perspective.” The selected topics and the academic dons, all specialists on security researches/authored works who delivered the lectures did an incredible job in revealing the truth these Nigerian kobo-kobo critics hates to idolize in progressive engagements.
Each member of the audience of GAWF-organized function came out of the venue of the event shaking his head profusely or in hands of gesticulations, disapproving the deliberate persecutions of President Buhari. It was clear they also frowned at deliberate undermining of the leader of counter-insurgency operations, Nigeria’s COAS, Gen. TY Buratai and the Nigerian troops for the fake facts or misleading information reflected in falsified analysis and blatant disregard for sacrifices of soldiers in the frontlines.
Any election year is always a difficult year for democratic nations. It does not exclude even advanced democracies. The American case is still fresh. President Donald Trump is alleging all manner of irregularities against Sen. Joe Biden, who ab initio defeated him. America’s democracy is a bit more advanced than that of Nigeria. So, there was no incidence of physical violence recorded amongst the supporters of the two political swordfighters.
But Nigeria is a developing democracy. And oppositionists seeking to unseat an incumbent leader deploy all tactics, including the crudest means of violence and bloodletting. A catchy aspect of opposition’s campaigns at electioneering period as experienced in Nigeria is the deliberate rubbishing of the incumbent’s achievements in the sectors, they feel he has impacted on the people in grandeur manifestations.
In President Buhari’s case, the opposition focused on insecurities of the resurgent ilk. They gladly forgot about yesterday’s widespread insecurities in Nigeria and how Buhari doused the fire and tensions. But what can anybody else say or do? Everywhere in democracy globally, the citizens mouth anything, anytime and anywhere. But in most cases, with Nigeria in reference, and under President Buhari, the truth is cruelly hidden.
So, very irreligiously, the opposition keeps dwelling on resurgence of insecurities in Nigeria. No one needs a 419ner to put a veil on their eyes in order to fail to see the truth. The mindset is on political vendetta and zeal to grab power in 2023. Rational Nigerians are aware!
Nonetheless, while they delight in the political chess game of hate and spitefulness, it does not vitiate the truth. President Buhari and his team of Security Chiefs perfectly struggled out of an election year in 2019. And the organized breach of national security spilled into 2020. The political pests in Nigeria never stopped. Those defeated in popular ballots mounted sustained litigations against President Buhari to reclaim a mandate they never had anyway.
But quite surprisingly, President Buhari battled the resisters to a standstill in 2020 and the year is searing to an end in few days with more positive results on conquering Nigeria’s insecurities. And in the Year 2020, as exposited by the GAWF guest lecturers, it exposed much of the downplayed facts on what President Buhari and Gen. Buratai, in league with other Service Chiefs have done in curbing Nigeria’s insecurities, especially the war against Boko Harm insurgency/ISWAP terrorism and armed banditry.
The Nigerian Army went into the Year 2020 with lots of loads on their necks across the country. By the ending of 2020 now, Nigerian soldiers are now in 34 states of Nigeria on Internal Operations (IS) concerning security. But they are not fatigued under the field command of Gen. Buratai, a tireless soldier and stickler for excellence for all assignments he supervises within or globally.
Before July 2015, and the Buhari Presidency, Nigeria had several Chief of Army Staff’s (COAS) who preferred the cozy offices of the Army’s Headquarters (AHQs) in Abuja than the sunny scotches of field battles with insurgents in the trenches of the Northeast. Gen. Buratai has made trenches of the Northeast and Northwest, where armed criminal gangs have been directed to viciously slaughter or kill Nigerians his permanent home.
The Army Chief’s frequent trips to the theatres of war is worrisome to most Nigerians, who think he should consider his personal safety. It is because any harm to him on the battlefront signifies and symbolizes the injury or defeat of Nigeria by terrorists. But Gen. Buratai doesn’t care. He prefers to die in the warfront with his troops; the proudest medal of every soldier than allow terrorists feast on his country, Nigeria.
So, again, Gen. Buratai relocated to the theatre of war in early April 2020 to lead the battle against terrorists from the front. None of his predecessors ever did it. It’s not a slate of them anyway. But truth must be told in all circumstances. Its only Gen. Buratai who has displayed this courage and commitment since 2009 when Boko Haram metamorphosed into a national security threat. Terrorists attempted death on him in the frontlines of the Northeast. But Buratai rather visited their camps with more casualties.
And very commendably, the two months Gen. Buratai remained in the trenches leading troops to fight insurgents or terrorists in the forests, caves and deserts or plains of the Lake Chad area in Borno’s Northern polar, there was a difference. The change berthed in other areas in the Northeast like Yobe, and over 2,000 insurgents/ terrorists were neutralized, surrendered or were expired through whatever means.
Buratai is terrorist’s nemesis. Terrorists dread him. Terrorists sponsors have tempted Gen. Buratai’s patriotism and loyalty, but all these years, the funders of terrorism in Nigeria have been unable to penetrate him with all incentives. The last time in the trenches of the Northeast, Gen. Buratai was a roving spark of fire everywhere against terrorists. It was same when he launched “Operation Sahel Sanity” to arrest the criminal activities of armed bandits and cattle rustlers in Nigeria’s Northwest. He is really superhuman!
In two weeks, troops deployed by Gen. Buratai to Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto states among others neutralized armed bandits in tens of hundreds. It brought instant respite to afflicted communities, despite the infiltration of Boko Haram insurgents to beef up their strength. These are exploits only linked to Gen. Buratai. Any Nigerian, plus Gen. Buratai’s most caustic of critics should challenge him on these points.
The Kankara 344 abductees were released unhurt and in an unarmed military operation in Fugu forest, just within six days. Eight days later, the kidnappers attempt on Mahuta’s 84 Islamist teenagers was immediately resisted. And all the 84 schoolchildren were rescued, unhurt and reunited with their families. Boko Haram’s factional leader, Abubakar Shekau only speaks now through proxies. He is no longer the invincible leader of a terror sect as Nigerians were told years back.
A conscripted child terrorist, Mohammed Adam, a teenage fighter, currently in the custody of troops of 195 battalion of the Nigerian Army recently revealed a lot on Shekau. Adam was arrested by soldiers in the warfront and confessed that Shekau got injured during one of Nigerian forces strikes on an insurgents’ camp in Tumbuktu, Sambisa forest, a Boko Haram stronghold in Borno state.
How else could a leader of counter-insurgency in Nigeria be appreciated? But the opposition elements who plot these evils hate to hear this news. They persistently campaign for the sacking of Nigeria’s best military patriots and loyalists to have a pathway to complete devious plans to unseat President Buhari undemocratically. It’s no longer hidden anymore!
Whether the clan of selfish naysayers accept it or dispute it with their habituated bile, it does not annihilate the unirascible fact that despite the criminal gang-up against President Buhari on insecurities in the Year 2020, the Nigerian Army recorded great exploits. All thanks to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen TY Buratai and gallant troops. They are determined to defeat the nation’s unrepentant enemies and bloodsuckers.
Odoma is a public affairs analyst writing from Abuja.