Monday, 19 August 2019 13:48

[OPINION]: PMB’s decision that changed B/Haram narrative - David Onmeje

On May 29, 2015, when President Muhammadu Buhari took the oath of office as Nigeria’s democratic leader, it was clear, his first, second and third immediate  priorities  centered on ending Boko Haram terrorism. It was not controvertible even to the blind that Boko Haram had  repressed Nigeria and it’s security forces in conquerors might.

Buhari’s first official action was to order the Security Chiefs he inherited  from the preceding administration to take the war to the doorsteps of  the insurgents. He directed the instant  relocation of  the Command Theatre to Maiduguri, the epicenter of raging Boko Haram insurgency. 

In his inaugural speech to the nation, President Buhari lamented how some small group of religious extremists who preached everything in  negation to Islam amassed so much power  and  morphed  from causing “ small fires, to big fires.” Apparently, President Buhari was pained that insurgents held the whole country to ransom, in anguish, sorrows, killings and other dehumanizing atrocious  acts.

However, six weeks after he maintained the then Security Chiefs, they continued to exhibit the same and glaring incapacity to confront and subdue Boko Haram. A President, who somewhat concealed his indignation sacked all of them by mid July 2015 and calmly thanked them for service to fatherland.

He immediately announced a new set of Security Chiefs to commence the job of dislodging, decimating and defeating  Boko Haram terrorists in order to free Nigeria from it’s pangs. The drastic  change in the apex leadership of the military enthroned trusted and competent military officers with proven track  records  of splendid  service to the  country.

Among the new arrivals on the leadership ladder of  security chiefs  was Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai. The  hitherto unknown soldier, who hails from the obscure village of Buratai, in Biu LGA,  Borno state, also ravaged by Boko Haram was named the Chief of Army Staff (COAS).

The choice of Gen. Buratai as COAS  shocked many  Nigerians because albeit, he had accomplished much in his military career, but was unnoticed. His lifestyle attuned more  to the trenches than the urbanian display of  sophistry as done by  some  military officers of his caliber.

Gen. Buratai’s first official conversation with Nigerians embodied the soothing message of decimating and defeating Boko Haram insurgents. And he gave time frames for reclaiming Nigeria from insurgents back to Nigerians. He was specific that by December 2015, Boko Haram would be completely decimated.

And from his initial actions, it was clear to discerning minds that this great soldier and chief armour bearer of counter- terrorism knows his briefs . It indicated he was  quite familiar with the rudiments of battling insurgency having led the MNJTF as Field Commander.

He was to lead troops to recover  about 18  LGAs in the Northeast under the total control of insurgents with their headquarters at Gwoza and another seven others under the partial control of terrorists in the region.

Added to this burden, were the over 20, 000 Nigerians  held hostage by Boko Haram in secret camps in the Northeast and the neighboring countries of Niger, Chad and the Cameroun republics, including the abducted Chibok schoolgirls. These Nigerian Boko Haram hostages yearned for freedom from captivity for reunification with their families.

Elsewhere in the Northeast, there was the problem of demystifying  Sambisa forest, Boko Haram’s most fortified haven. It housed it’s most vicious leader Abubakar Shekau  and other top commanders as well as some captives.

But Gen. Buratai convinced himself in the wisdom enunciated by a Ghanaian adage that says, “If there were no elephant in the jungle, the buffalo would be a great animal.” Thus, he personally led troops into the jungle of Boko Haram for the battles.

And sticking to his words, Gen. Buratai and the Nigerian troops effectively decimated Boko Haram  by December 2015. The hard confrontations of terrorists marked the beginning of the reclamation of Nigerian territories under insurgents control at the dawn of Year 2016.

He achieved substantial progress, alongside rescue of hundreds of hostages in their gulags. By the twilight of December 2016, Gen. Buratai delivered a demystified and dismantled,  dreaded  Sambisa forest as Christmas gift to Nigerians. Troops encounter with insurgents was fierce, with Abubakar Shekau escaping narrowly, after  abandoning his personal copy of Holy Koran and his Jihadi flag. He reportedly disguised as a woman and sneaked out of the region to nurture his wounds.

It is unquestionable that Gen. Buratai has presided over  sustained winning streaks against terrorists. Presently, no Nigerian territory is under the annexation of Boko Haram. Insurgents are pained that despite their repeated attacks to regain control of lost territories, but none has afforded them such luxury because of the strong resistance by troops on the frontline.

Over 18, 000 Nigerian hostages have regained their freedom and reunited with families. Boko Haram has also lost scores of top commanders and foot soldiers to the Nigerian Army. Gen. Buratai has ended the scourge of  female suicide bombers with the introduction of Army Female Corps. He battles both field and cyberspace terrorism with same vigour and in all dimensions.

Most strikingly, Gen. Buratai has not only been able to conveniently halt Boko Haram ingress into Southern Nigeria, but has effectively holed  and confined their operations in the obscure  parts or bushes  of the Northeast, in occasional sneaky and isolated  attacks.

Yet, sequel to Gen. Buratai’s leadership of counter-insurgency operations, Boko Haram had the generous liberty to bomb Kano, Kaduna, Gombe, Bauchi, Jos, Yobe, Adamawa, Borno  and other parts of the Northern  region very freely and recklessly, without hindrance.

The tears and sorrows of Abuja residents from terrorism has also ended, as no one has heard a bomb blast since the July 2015. But it was a mega city, citizens were essentially  driven by the phobia of Boko Haram which would sometimes bomb the city twice in a week or serially.

Nigerians have not experienced any detonated bombs in Nyanya bus station, Police Headquarters, UN building, media houses or shopping malls in the national  capital city in the past four years.

Significantly too, the number of IDPs in the Northeast has also declined incredibly. And death toll from Boko Haram insurgency has reduced drastically  under the Buhari Presidency despite the spirited battles launched   by insurgents to regain  control of  rescued territories in Nigeria.

It is certified and indisputable  that the appointment of Gen. Buratai as  COAS was an ideal  decision by President Buhari. It has  changed the  Boko Haram narrative in favour of Nigeria.  His leadership of the  counter-insurgency operations has really changed the terrorists’ perception of the Nigerian troops now,  as  a formidable Army which is ever ready to see to the complete routing out  of insurgents from Nigeria.

Therefore, once a nation makes the right decision, seemingly unsolvable problems begin to ebb out gradually to the final end. With Gen. Buratai  still on board, it’s a sure bet that Boko Haram must fizzle out of Nigeria in humiliating  final defeat. He has vowed to supervise  the reign of good over evil by terminating terrorism and uprooting every  insurgency from it’s roots.

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