By Anthony Kolawole
The fight against insurgency in Nigeria precedes this present administration. The level of destruction experienced regarding physical and emotional impacts are unquantifiable. We were witness to terror. We stared at death in the face. We were at the mercy of insurgents as nobody and nowhere were safe anymore.
We were witness to attacks on critical government infrastructure such as the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force, the headquarters of the United Nations, and many others. It was gory. The private sector was not left out too. There were also stacks on media houses. And we also lost brilliant and promising Nigerians, quite a black era in the annals of Nigeria.
Fast forward to 2018, and you would have a reason to thank God. The president was at Monguno recently at the Nigerian Army Day Celebration. For the president as well as the indigenes of Monguno, it was an emotional meeting because there was a time that Monguno was under the firm control of Boko Haram insurgents. The frequency of attacks in the local government area was phenomenal. But all of that is history, thanks to the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari and the appointment of a seasoned infantry officer as Chief of Army Staff.
I am particular about the choice of Monguno for certain reasons. It was a sharp departure from the usual parade, combat march past, weaponry and equipment usually displays at the Eagle Square in Abuja or any of the big cities in the country. And it adds to the narrative of once upon a time, Monguno was under constant attacks from Boko Haram insurgents. But not anymore.
Some might not fully appreciate the efforts of the military in the fight against insurgency, but when the story of Monguno and northern Borno is analyzed, and then we will begin to appreciate the leadership of the Nigerian Army under Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai. As a first, I knew something was going to change in the Nigerian Army upon the assumption of office of President Muhammadu Buhari because, in a way, the army is his constituency. I knew he was going to get the best for the position of Chief of Army Staff. And so when he made the announcement sometime in 2015, I said yes. Yes for the fact that things were going to turn around. Yes because I knew that the end of Boko Haram was just around the corner. And I wasn’t wrong. How was this possible? The military achieved all these feats through transparency and accountability, the hallmark of the present administration.
Back to the crux of the issue, Monguno is not just a local government area in Borno state. It is one of the local government areas with military bases. And guess what? The military base in Mongono was not only attacked, but it was also ransacked by Boko Haram insurgents sometime in 2015. It was indeed a shame. Some said it was unthinkable. Some even said it was as a result of lack of strategy and motivation. Some also blamed the leadership of the Nigerian Army. But in all of these, it was evident that something was wrong. It was also apparent that something would give and eventually Monguno eventually fell into the hands of Boko Haram insurgents.
Now fast forward to 2018. Monguno is not only safe, but it also hosted the prestigious Nigerian Army Day celebrations and the president, as well as other notable dignitaries, was also in attendance. At the event, the president expressed his delight in the following words:
“I am delighted to be in your midst today on this special occasion of the Nigerian Army Day Celebration 2018. I am particularly elated by choice of the venue for this year’s celebration here in Monguno, Northern Borno State. The choice of this venue is very noteworthy and assuring to all Nigerians that the negative history which was associated with the North East in the past decade is now gradually becoming a thing of the past. We are aware of the effects of Boko Haram insurgency on the livelihood, economy, and security of the North East people.”
“It’s gratifying to hear on a daily basis the progress of our gallant troops as they carry out clearance operations along the fringes of Lake Chad Waters and Northern Borno. Members of the Boko Haram insurgents now surrender willingly in their numbers to our troops. Today is a perfect opportunity for me to again sincerely commend members of the Armed Forces particularly the Nigerian Army for their role in the defeat of the Boko Haram insurgents and for the many sacrifices they have made in ensuring the safety of our great nation.”
These were the words of the president who is naturally excited by the successes recorded by the Nigerian Military in the fight against the insurgency. Like I mentioned earlier, the significance of the event is not that it is the routine Nigerian Army Day Celebrations, but the fact that it was hosted in an area that was once under constant attacks from Boko Haram insurgents.
This is worthy of celebration. It is indeed a testament to the capacity of the service chiefs, especially that of the Nigerian Army in the fight against insurgency in North East Nigeria. If we must be honest with ourselves, before the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari, the country was indeed under siege that we feared for our continued existence. But today, Northern Borno state has been liberated. And that speaks volume of leadership and capacity. I am tempted to mention how the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen. Tukur Buratai has been able to lead the troops to victory. But in all, I will say it has been a job well-done.
Kolawole, PhD is a University Lecturer and writing from Keffi.