By: Uche John Madu
To many ears in Nigeria, it initially sounded like a jingle on radio or television sets in homes. To many souls, it was just mere propaganda. To opposing politicians, it was another gimmick by the Nigerian Army of President Muhammedu Buhari (PMB) to downplay reality and shore-up its public image.
And to foreign sponsors of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) it was more of a joke allowed to linger and hover above their shadows for long. To insurgents’ local sympathizers and agents, the battle must not be over this soon and so the terrorists must be seen to regroup to cause more atrocities.
So, these agents deployed all manner of tricks including shielding of fleeing terrorists, but the most visible of the antics being the last resort to cyber terrorism against the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian people, lovers of peace and harmonious existence. But the Army countered them and has continued to follow their fresh trends in cyber terrorism.
These overt and covert agents of darkness vowed to prove to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai that it is not yet liberation hour in the anti-terror campaigns. The few BHTs agents distressed by the reality of the defeat of terrorism in Nigeria became publicists for remnants of Boko Haram insurgents; protectors and benefactors to this satanic sect.
Much more, to a dozen other skeptics, no one has the sanity to claim the years of turmoil, reckless bloodletting, pains and sorrows in the Northeast region would have ended within a short time as officially pronounced by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and Nigerian Military authorities, which received the seldom hearty applause from the international community, including the venerated United Nations (UN).
But now the narrative has changed. There are glaring and ominous signs emerging from Nigeria’s Northeast inhabitants, who were in the burning furnace on the restoration of peace in the region. They are not only appreciating the energy and sacrifices the Nigerian troops have devoted to ending terrorism in their communities within the shortest possible time in world history, but are willing to take their destiny into their hands to chart a new course of life.
They have concurred with the FGN and the Nigerian Army, the return of peace to the region previously manacled by insurgency. They have chorused to Nigerians in loud voices that the anti-terrorism campaigns of the Nigerian Army in the region has yielded the fruits of peace, which they have gleefully plucked and ready to preserve till the end of time.
Cheerily, all the stakeholders in the Northeast, which cut across all strata of leadership in the region have unanimously resolved and endorsed a symbolic advertisement and denunciation of any support or sympathy to fleeing terrorists henceforth. They have indicated in their posturing, a kind inclination to forgive and forget their kinsmen who have wronged them and Nigeria by launching an unjustifiable internecine war against the region.
Thus, prodded into action, which the organizations namely, the North East Coalition Against Terrorism and the Karthoum Peace Foundation collaborated and staged the first ever peace solidarity rally in Maiduguri, Borno state at the famous Ramat Stadium in February to celebrate the return of peace to the Northeast region.
This joy is exploded by the practical evidence and proof of the peoples acceptance of the restoration of peace in that part of the country, railroaded by the current administration of PMB in eradicating Boko Haram insurgency within a time space.
For the first time, the people of Northeast are recording their firsts in the anti-terrorism campaigns. The time-line of events in the region shows that it is the first time major and indispensable stakeholders in the region would collectively and publicly profess to the restoration of peace in the region; It is the first time all constituents states in the Northeast region would converge for this reason and massively agree that BHT started in Borno and the entrenchment of peace must also begin from the state, which breathe life into Boko Haramism.
In addition, it is also the first time, Northeasterners are agreeing that though states were plunged into the same dilemma or suffered the same fate, but Borno is unsurpassed in the quantum of destructions in all ramifications. It is lastly, the first time, everybody in the region, with mutual consensus has wholeheartedly accepted and associated themselves with a laudable peace initiative, which has made other parts of Nigerian similarly plagued green with envy.
There is nothing that gladdens the heart when feted by the people you sacrifice your life to salvage. The public acceptability of the return of peace in the Northeast and the vow of all stakeholders, pleading to be part and parcel of implanting a durable, unshakable and unbreakable peace in the land of their forebears needs no further consultation and divination (as other Nigerians would prefer to know) to decode that the purposeful and result-oriented Nigerian army spearheaded by Lt. Gen Tukur Yusufu Buratai are heroes and heroines of the Nigerian nation-state.
That Nigerian troops defiantly decimated the once dreaded sect of devils incarnate or the Jezebels in their midst, the agents within and outside was not loud enough. But its loudest proclamation is the people shouting on rooftops in appreciation of what the administration of PMB has done to embalm them with peace and tranquility in a once dreadfully explosive region, as further confirmation of President Buhari’s no-nonsense stance on the security of lives and property of Nigerians, anywhere in the country.
Borno state Governor Kashim Shettima has etched his name in gold on security in the league of Governors in Nigeria. His quite, painstaking, co-operative and supportive efforts of security agents is loudly decoded in the success of the anti-terrorism campaigns in the region. No assurance to the people can be greater than his superintending over the rebuilding process and his overwhelming embrace or encouragement of the peace process in the region in the post- military intervention era in order to fully domesticate durable peace.
With an executive order of persona non-grata, Shettima has ensured fled or fleeing terrorists within his domain and the Northeast generally no longer enjoy the respite of hospitality in any form. He has conscripted traditional rulers in his domain as the sentinels of the new focus of the anti-terrorism war and other governors within the region should emulate same to stretch the gamut of peace.
Governor Shettima has minced no words in declaring his state as no longer a haven for terrorists and by extension, the Northeast, through various internal mechanisms in collaboration with stakeholders. Shettima has just one word for fleeing terrorists; “Please, surrender now to the Nigerian troops and be granted amnesty or we have resolved to collectively rise against you as strangers in our fold.”
It means since the people of the Northeast and Borno state in particular, are ambling towards lasting peace in the region, even renegades who initially conscripted into the toleration of fleeing Boko Haram terrorists have declared them enemies of the people who must be tracked down.
Shettima’s courage and resoluteness should serve as a challenge to other Governors in Nigeria, whose enclaves are equally afflicted by these violent insurrections. If such Governors resolve to do just half of the work Shettima has done in his domain, Nigeria shall be a freer, more peaceful and habitable country for all the citizenry. It is a clarion call to Governors of other states in Nigeria to emulate Shettima’s rewarding peaceful initiatives in their respective states.
But to ice Governor Shettima’s cake, he must not forget that the durable peace he is working relentlessly to achieve must be backed-up by state-oriented youth empowerment schemes vis-à-vis campaigns for the re-absorption and sound education of the youth, which he has already undertaken. It is a plausible mark of bold leadership in times of crisis and difficulties.
The prayers of all afflicted peoples, the world over is that may this misfortune of terrorism never cross the path of humanity again. And this is precisely, the message Nigerians of all hues, led by Governor Shettima have beseeched God in prayers and unto Him, terrorists no more have space in Borno, the Northeast and Nigeria, as a nation. This is the good tidings, this day, from Borno and Nigeria’s northeast.
Madu writes from the Good Governance Institute, Lagos