EDITORIAL: Positive Thinking Needed In North East

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There is no doubt that Borno State and, indeed, the entire North-eastern part of Nigeria has been enjoying relative peace since the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was inaugurated on May 29, 2015. This followed the marching orders he gave to the military high command to move their operational headquarters to the zone so as to deal decisively with the scourge of insurgency that had bedevilled the country. The efficiency with which the order was carried and the sustained effectiveness of the operations are not only remarkable but also have ensured the successful degradation of the Boko Haram insurgents.

It is not a surprise then that, in no time, the intensity of incidences of abduction, mass slaughter of unarmed populace and the seizure of parts of the Nigerian territory which were evident in the latter part of the immediate past administration were reduced drastically as the terrorists were thrown into flight and thus the way was paved for the return of normalcy in that beleaguered zone.

Schools that were forced to shut down their premises reopened for classes; hospitals that were closed due to fear and insecurity started readmitting and treating patients while business activities resumed in earnest.

But as the current administration continues to receive global commendation for its achievements in the area of security and as thousands of hitherto displaced persons are encouraged to return to their communities to commence the rebuilding of their interrupted lives, there started to appear pockets of reports suggesting that some local governments in the state are being taken over by the insurgents.

An assessment tour of the area carried out recently by some civil society organisations including the National Forum of Democrats (NDF), however, contradicts this claim. Its report and that of similar groups indicate that the military is in firm grip and control of the territories reclaimed from the insurgents and have not lost any since then.

Also, some of the residents of these areas are alarmed at such misrepresentation that tend to suggest that the insurgents are making a rebound in places where they had been sacked and expelled. Nothing can be farther from the truth. For instance, a recent video clip from Gwoza provides pictorial evidence of the operational activities of the military in the North east and how their successes are being celebrated by residents who bear witness to the fact that the insurgents have actually been routed. It is, therefore, totally unacceptable for any individual or organisation, whether local or foreign-based to try to paint the picture of the North-east as war torn and in the hands of the insurgents.

The insincerity in such manipulated reports can be gleaned from its lack of specifics. While it claims that three local government areas are in the hands of the insurgents, it made no effort to mention the name of any or all of them thereby betraying a penchant for prevarication. This prejudice would have been ignored if not that it deals with a very sensitive matter that has to do with human lives, and, of course national security.

It is pertinent, in our view, to observe that there ought to be limits to what can be politicised. When individuals and organisations think it is appropriate to play politics with the lives of people, we also admonish them to be guided by the truth in their affairs not just to maintain credibility and good image for themselves but in order for the greater interest of the nation to be preserved and protected.

It will not, in our opinion, serve any useful purpose if all the sacrifices made by the military are written off in a bid to pander to indiscernible political interests which, if pursued, will not augur well for the entire nation.  If at all, it will play into the hands of unpatriotic elements who will be too glad to see that as an opportunity to cause unnecessary panic and stampede at a time the federal government and the international community are warming up for gargantuan interventions that will, hopefully, redeem the North-east from total collapse and despondency.

We urge all Nigerians and their genuine friends to support the efforts of the government through the encouragement of positive thinking, meaningful discourse on the North-east issue and support for the various measures being put in place to ensure that peace and prosperity is restored to the region on a sustained basis. This positive attitude is what is required if we must accelerate the development of the area which has been devastated by the unfortunate incidences of the past.