The economy is biting hard and there are other things of concern as well. Militants are running riot down south and their activities further undermine the economy. If we think critically and with the benefits of what we see unfolding in Venezuela and other economies that were dependent on crude oil revenue the realisation will dawn on us that there are a lot of things to be grateful for.
Security is the greatest thing we should be appreciative of and acknowledge the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari for working to deliver his electoral promises. Anyone familiar with the lightning speed with which Boko Haram was advancing and capturing territories prior to Mr President’s assumption of office will remember that the projection was for the terror group to have overrun the larger part of the country one year from the referenced period. Cities as far south as Lagos and Port Harcourt were already bracing for the possibility of attacks.
Those preparations turned out to be nothing more than drills as Mr President brought on board officers that have displayed unrivalled loyalty and coordination that has helped Nigeria tame what was its worst demon. The confidence the Commander in Chief has in his military aides was not misplaced as proven by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar and the other chiefs who have treated their exploits in the anti-terror war as the first proof of their loyalty to their boss who is leading the charge to end the that group’s reign of terror. These are the men helping President Buhari to stage a repeat of the crushing that sent the Maitatasine insurgency into extinction.
The destruction Boko Haram terrorists left in their wake is being addressed with rebuilding efforts to which the international community, international and local NGOs, the other two tiers of government and others have pledged support and life could return to normal in these places in the shortest time possible. Successive news of the military routing the extremists and flushing them out of once captured towns and villages has bolstered the eagerness of those who want to be back to their homes.
A lot remains to be done however. Some of the terrorists merely fled cross border into neighbouring countries and still attempt to stage dramatic attacks from these places, if only to create the impression that they still have some sting. This is an aspect that requires constant attention so that they do not continue to instil fear in people of the north east especially displaced persons that are eager to return to their communities. The motorcycle brigade established by General Buratai should prove useful in countering the terrorists’ ‘hit and run’ attack strategy due to the ease of rapid deployment and versatility in difficult terrains.
On the perception of the overall security situation, Mr President must also be scored high as troops have been able to act decisively and civilly so in the face of provocations that were contrived to solely for political reasons. Had these provocative actions of separatists and militants taken place in the height of Boko Haram’s campaign of terror they would have still taken second seat owing their politically instigated origin. It is the taming of Boko Haram that has made miscreants to look like big game, since relativity comes in when we think of the current state of affairs we reckon without the hindsight of how things would have been if the situation were different.
As with anything that is good, there are bound to “haters” which has been demonstrated by the wave after wave of attacks on the persons perceived as being key to winning the anti-terror war for Mr President. Even in this, President Buhari has demonstrated wisdom that could only come with high intellect and experience. One must hail his judgement for seeing through the ploy to make him get rid of his strongest assets in the anti-terror war. If for nothing else, his refusal to fall for the trick of those waging a proxy war on his military aides is something that has set him aside as a master strategist.
He sidestepped the pressure to misread the people that joined his team at the very trying and challenging times of our nationhood in his quest to end the wanton killings of innocent citizens. Had Mr President chosen men with only military prowess without the ethical standards that correspond to his own anti-corruption stance he would have let Nigerians down. Fortunately for him and for our security, he has in place fantastic officers that have translated the fight against graft to reflect at all levels of the various services. Nigerians now ask questions about what happens to money in the military and even question the lifestyles of its leadership. Only a president that is truly committed to keeping his election promises could have nudged the nation in this direction.
But despite the politically motivated calls for the breakup of the country and militant attacks, Mr President should again mandate the service chiefs to draw from the lessons learnt in degrading Boko Haram to address these security breaches. It is not all about matching firepower with firepower as there are hidden strategies they have that cannot be placed in the public space but will no less solve problems in the Niger Delta. We cannot have these excellent men and not make the best use of them.
The war that President Buhari is winning is not just against terrorists and the militants being propped up with stolen funds by dislodged rogues. He is also winning against those trying to wear down his team and distract them from going after terrorists. These saboteurs are the real danger that the president has defeated for Nigerians.
Odoma is National Coordinator, Africa Arise for Change Network and contributed this piece from Abuja.