By Lawrence Audu
There have been insinuations in some quarters discrediting the efforts of the Nigerian government towards addressing the various security challenges in the country. This trend in recent times has assumed a pronounced dimension with an avalanche of reports by various organizations indicating government’s failure towards addressing the various security challenges in the country.
Some concerned stakeholders have indeed voiced concern and consequently carried out an independent assessment of the security situation in the country, as well as the efforts of the government and her institutions towards addressing the various security threats in the country.
In a recently released Global Peace Index report by the Centre for International and Strategic Studies, it indeed dissected the various security issues in the country as well as the role of various actors in Nigeria towards making Nigeria peaceful and prosperous. The report was an exposition of the history of armed conflict in Nigeria. It highlighted in no small measures the role of successive governments towards addressing insecurity in Nigeria.
It stated that “For Nigeria, security concerns of the last two decades have challenged the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. None of this myriad of challenges has posed a more significant threat in these past years as the illegal and dehumanizing activities of Boko Haram. Just as the Al-Qaida, Taliban, ISIS, Boko Haram gradually increased in ideological and military influence in the North East region of Nigeria.”
The report further highlighted that “The Boko Haram group exerted their authority and control over some areas of Borno State, and their activities have since harmed human security and development. The group made the Sambisa forest a reliable defence, training and command centre for their operations as such; it became apparent that the Nigerian Armed forces had to take Sambisa at all cost. Taking Sambisa was not a question of “if” but a question of “how” for the Nigerian Armed forces who faced a daunting task of wrestling the forest from terrorist control. Several factors stood against this task. First was the terrain, (Just like Afghanistan’s grave of Western Forces) a “new” theatre of warfare for a military set-up that had known no war or at least engaged in any full-blown military campaign since the 1967 Civil War.”
“However, President Muhammadu Buhari on taking over power, understood that successes could only be recorded if the above factors were effectively and efficiently checked. First on his agenda was to bring corrupt security officers and officials to book and also recover looted security funds. He also directed the National Security Adviser to institute a community to investigate weapon procurement since 2007 to check irregularities that lead to the purchasing of sub-standard and unserviceable equipment.”
The report described President Muhammadu Buhari thus “As a trained military thinker, he is actively involved in the policy and strategy thinking in the fight against the terror group. The policy and administrative arms of the military had been accused of being detached from the reality of soldiers on the frontline. Complaints from troops about inadequate supplies of equipment and poor welfare were nullified by the relocation of the military command centre to Maiduguri. This centralized move operations, cut-of bureaucracy, and speed up decision-making.”
“These initiatives paid off quickly evidenced in the continual retreatment of the Insurgent groups into neighbouring countries and the eventual dislodgement of the group from their strongest position. The superior firepower of troops especially those provided by the Nigeria Airforce caused a large number of the terrorists to flee their hideout in Sambisa Forest towards Lake Chad in the northern part of Borno State on the Nigerian/Niger Republic border. President Buhari in a national broadcast announced the success of Operation Lafia Dole occasioned by the capture of the epicentre of Boko Haram operations in the heart of Sambisa forest known as “Camp zero” and other surrounding camps.”
On the role of the Army in support of efforts to enhance national security, it was stated that the scaling up of the counter-insurgency operation by the Nigerian military in north-east Nigeria since May 2015- especially in Borno and parts of Yobe – appears to have dislodged Boko Haram fighters from areas they had ‘captured.
“The counter-terrorism operations of the Nigerian military have yielded positive results so far as is evidenced by the drop in the number of terrorism-related deaths in the country. Total deaths from terrorism in Nigeria fell to 1,532 in 2017, a decrease of 16 per cent from the prior year. The decline follows the 63 per cent drop in deaths in Nigeria in the preceding year and a 34 per cent drop in 2019. This highlights the effectiveness of the counter-insurgency operations undertaken in Nigeria and its neighbours, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.”
“The Nigerian Army has been applauded for its counter-insurgency efforts towards the restoration of peace and security of lives and property in Borno State as well as the entire North East of Nigeria. This feat was achieved through the introduction of innovations in the operational strategies in the prosecution of the war against insurgency and other militant and criminal activities.”
“The Nigerian Army has also been credited to have liberated communities in North-East Nigeria that were hitherto under the control of the Boko Haram insurgents. Five of the six northeastern states have been fully liberated, but for Borno State still experiencing pockets of Boko Haram activities, which have mainly been attributed to the lack of cooperation by the political authorities in the state with the Nigerian Military.”
On the issue of military involvement in internal security management, it was sufficiently highlighted that the government began to put in measures towards addressing the various internal security threats in the country from 2016. Between 2016 and 2019, substantial progress was made in the management of the internal security crisis in Nigeria with the involvement of the Nigerian Army in internal security operations.
“The Nigerian Army has launched over 40 different operations and exercises in the last five years to contain various security challenges across the country. Some of them include ‘Shirin Harbi’, to combat restiveness in Bauchi and Gombe States; ‘Harbin Kunama’, to tackle cattle rustling and armed banditry in the Dansadau Forest of Zamfara State and environs as well as ‘Crocodile Smile I’, to take on Niger Delta militants crippling Nigeria’s oil installations. In July 2017, Operation ‘Harbin Kunama II’ was put in place in the North West and North Central to deal with cattle rustling, armed banditry and clashes between pastoralists and farmers.”
“Another one code-named ‘Operation Dokaji’ was launched in the North West and North Central to deal with cattle rustling, armed banditry, and clashes between pastoralists and farmers. Similarly, ‘Operation Egwu Eke’ to fight crimes like cultism, militancy, and kidnapping in Niger Delta states was launched in October 2017.”
“Operation Karamin Goro’ covering Minna-Birnin Gwari-Pandogari and Minna-Sarkin Pawa general area was launched in January 2018; while another one code-named ‘Operation Ayem Akpatuma’ aimed at tackling banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling and armed militia in Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger states were put in place in February 2018.”
“In January 2019, ‘Operation Python Dance III’ was launched in Lagos to tackle violence before, during and after the 2019 general elections and in April of the same year, ‘Operation Harbin Kunama III’ was launched to cover forest areas of Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara states, in a bid to end activities of bandits. Later in September 2019, Operation Python Dance I came into being to check the spate of robberies, kidnappings, and cultism in and around Anambra.”
“In October 2019, an operation tagged, ‘Cat Race’ was launched in Niger State to contain perennial insecurity caused by bandits, cattle rustlers and other criminal elements across the country. ‘Operation Positive Identification’ was also put in place at the same time to fight the fleeing Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists in November 2010 the North East, while ‘Operation Atilogwu’, (Operation Dance for Peace) came up in the South East about the same time to address security challenges.”
“The year 2019 ended with the launching of ‘Operation Rattle Snake’ targeted at selected locations within the North East to “further degrade remnants of the terrorists as well as deny the insurgents safe havens and freedom of action.” Other operations launched during the period in the review included: Operation Long Reach in the North East; Operation Sharan Daji in the North West; Operation Whirl Stroke in the North Central Zones; Exercise Sahel Sanity North West and Operation Ruwan Wuta I, II, and III in the North East.”
It is thus sufficient to state that Nigeria indeed rose to the occasion despite the avalanche of conspiracies by foreign interest, especially in the funding of the activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group. This is on the heels that there exist tangible pieces of evidence with regards to the role of some foreign interest in the festering of the Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria. This indeed aided the Boko Haram group in their nefarious activities.
Despite all of these, the report indicated that the average level of global peacefulness in Nigeria had improved slightly. “This was the first time that the index improved in the last 15 years. The average country score improved by -0.09 per cent. According to information from the Global Peace Index Nigeria was not classified amongst the top five least peaceful countries in the world. Nigeria was also not classified amongst the top five ongoing conflict domains in the world.”
“This revelation indeed negates the supposition that Nigeria was amongst the most terrorized countries in the world. This fact was highlighted with the numerous interventions of the Nigerian authorities in the sustenance of peace and tranquillity in Nigeria.”
“The involvement and commitment of the Nigerian Army in addressing the various security challenges cannot be overemphasized. This much was evident in the various operations launched by the Nigerian Army aimed towards addressing the various security threats across the country, and the consequent results speak volume.”
“Consequently, there has been relative peace and tranquillity in Nigeria, and this is against the insinuation in some quarters that Nigeria is amongst the most terrorized countries in the world. It is indeed a statement of the fact there that cannot be the case in Nigeria with the commitment of the Muhammadu Buhari Administration towards the security of lives and properties.”
The report concluded that a careful look at the Global indexes for countries experiencing forms of conflict; Nigeria was not listed amongst the top five least peaceful countries and countries undergoing conflict. It thus suffices to state that Nigeria has made substantial gains in the fight against terrorism and other forms of criminal activities, and these campaigns can be adjudged successful and responsible for peace and tranquillity in Nigeria.”
It is indeed a statement of the fact that the involvement of the Nigerian Army in addressing the security threats in the country cannot be overemphasized and resilience against all the odds.