By Bukar Raheem
To say, I was infinitely inspired by President Muhammadu Buhari’s endearing remarks on the counter-insurgency campaigns in Nigeria’s Northeast and the laudable efforts of the Nigerian military in curtailing the menace of Boko Haram Terrorism (BHT) in his 2017 Independence Day speech to Nigerians is to put it mildly. I was so thrilled to the extent, assuming age was in my favour, I would not have hesitated offering myself for the next enlistment into any arm of the Nigerian military. It captivated me with the feeling of garbing“khaki” to hop into the trenches with the rest of my fellow country men and women in the defence of my cherished country.
Buhari’s speech reminded Nigerians on the necessity to appreciate the military which is fighting Boko Haram insurgency. He thundered; “… Nigerians must be grateful to our gallant Armed Forces for rolling back the frontiers of Boko Haram’s terrorism, defeating them and reducing them to cowardly attacks on soft and vulnerable targets…Not even the most organized and most equipped police and security forces in the world can escape the menace of modern day terrorism, as we have seen in recent years in Europe and other parts of the world.”
After the nationwide broadcast, President Buhari proceeded on an official visit to Maiduguri, the headquarters of the Command Theatre, “Operation Lafiya Dole,” as part of activities marking the 57th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence. The action was symbolic in many respects. First, the verbal appreciation of the courageous and gallant troops by Mr. President from a distance was complemented by Buhari’s physical presence and interface with troops on the battlefield.
The elations of troops hatched fresh resolves and determination to safely get to the victorious destinations of the war on terrorism. It means as individuals, and Nigerians, we could also personally appreciate the military in our small or big ways for the sacrifices they are making for our peace and security.
The pacifying words of succor; the unexpressed words of “I am with you, in body and spirit,” by Mr. President were great stimulants and energizers that could push the fighting spirit of troops to break mountains hitherto dreaded, in search of victory. Anywhere in the world, the visit of Commanders-In-Chief of the Armed Forces is rare and when such visits occur, it changes the direction of several things.
President Buhari also seized the unique opportunity to clarify any possible doubts on the minds of troops about his resoluteness on Nigeria’s peace and unity. Most importantly, he drummed it to troops that the survival of Nigeria depends largely on their patriotism and loyalty to the country; just like the dismemberment of Nigeria would also terribly commensurate burden on the military.
PMB sermonized to our troops; “Even for selfish reasons, your loyalty ought to be to the centre, first. “The security of this nation is in the hands of God and in the hands of the security. If you don’t stand firm, I assure you if Nigeria doesn’t exist, the first to be insecure are the security agencies because no matter how many parts Nigeria will be divided, nobody will take another General to preside over his country.”
Nothing can be greater than this Presidential visit to our troops in the North-East and the ensuing parley. It is further eloquent testimony that Mr. President is not only proud of the Nigerian military, but elated with their performance in quelling BHT and infinitely appreciates the sacrifices and difficulties, but crucially, their unwavering endurance to sustain peace and the unity of Nigeria.
Quite surely, though, the President never uttered it, but President Buhari is over-joyed with the professionalism and discipline of Nigerian military. He is proud of a military now cultured on the abiding faith in civilian leadership of Nigeria and a military, which have factored absolutely as the guardians of our democracy, a departure from the destructive tendencies of the past.
The Military high command is working persistently to victoriously vacate the last presidential order of completely routing out Boko Haram terrorism from our shores. The visit of the C-in-C is the sealing of this pact and the affirmation of the Nigerian Army’s effective co-ordination of the anti-terrorism campaigns in the Northeast.
My attention is not distracted on the fact that through the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and ombudsman of the counter-insurgency campaigns, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai, Nigerians are testifying to the military’s records of meeting the C-in-C’s target of ridding the nation of elements of terrorism, in the Northeast and elsewhere in Nigeria.
It is incontrovertible that Gen. Buratai has proved his mettle as a leader; he has exemplified in a dozen ways his dexterity and professionalism in the handling of the Boko Haram insurgency. On the strength of this reality, Gen. Buratai and his colleagues at the warfront must consistently remember that Nigerians are still anxiously awaiting the final termination of Boko Haram terrorism with the capture of its factional leader, Abubakar Shekau. It is a task we have deemed accomplished, as we have explicit confidence that God will answer our prayers.
We are no less happy at the execution of the last presidential order, which saw the relocation of all Service Chiefs to Maiduguri and the halting of the insurgents attacks on soft and vulnerable targets in the region. They are irrefutable signs of the final receding of terrorism in Nigeria.
The raising of Mobile Strike Teams in the North East by “Operation Lafiya Dole” has thrown the leadership of insurgents into disarray. The Naval presence in the Lake Chad Basin and with the pleasurable news of blocking terrorists’ logistics bases and routes, the stage has been laid for the final victory over insurgency, which Gen. Buratai and his troops are poised to consummate anytime soon to the delight of all Nigerians.
As Nigerians continue to appreciate and identity with Nigerian troops at the battlefield, we are sure Gen. Buratai and his colleagues would strive to win the hearts of the people. They must do everything humanly possible to ensure the peace and victory over terrorists which the military have railroaded is sustained to greater levels of success and victory.
We have not lost sight of the personal sacrifices of troops in prosecuting the terrorism war, much as we are equally empathetic about the deprivations they have endured so that the rest of us can have peace and Nigeria remains one indivisible entity, as against a country dismembered by extremists with some weird ideologies.
Nigerians will continue to burn the midnight candle in beseeching God for the success of the military in this war. And we are already singing the victory song in anticipation of the day Gen. Buratai flanked by his lieutenants would mount the rostrum to break the cheering news that Boko Haram terrorism is finally over in Nigeria.
We have set a banquet awaiting the celebration of every one of you.
The military must realize that although, they are physically on the battlefield, warring with terrorists; but in the actual sense, it is all Nigerians that are at war with insurgents. The military should be buoyed by this reality.
There is no pretenses that those actually fighting terrorists are the same Nigerians who voted President Buhari to preside over the affairs of this great and prosperous nation at this time in history. And that’s why terrorists cannot triumph over the rest of us. It is our common resolve that we shall never allow characters, with satanic philosophies and ideologies, backed by evil foreign forces to seize the land of our forebears.
It is on this premise that we hinge the optimism of the inevitably total elimination of Boko Haram terrorists and other budding terrorists sects in the country by the military. Nigeria must be free!
Raheem, a public affairs commentator and strategist contributed this piece from Barnawa, Kaduna State.