By: Peter Bawa
All over the world, soldiers are reputed as fearless and courageous professionals who mortgage their lives in strange climes for the service and salvation of humanity. But Nigerians have added a peck to it.
Nigerians now perceive Nigerian soldiers as the most fearless, courageous and engagingly combative breed of officers in the protection of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of their country, Nigeria. And it is not a mistake. Elsewhere in the world, where Nigerian soldiers have served in peace keeping missions, they are applauded as the best ground troops.
The endearing sobriquets on the Nigerian Army is incited by its effective, splendid and timely defeat of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) in the country, under the commanding ingenuity of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai.
The final defeat of BHTs became manifest by the penetration and demolition of Camp Zero in Sambisa forest in Nigeria’s Northeast state of Borno. Camp Zero served as the terrorists' most fortified haven and the last stronghold of the insurgents, but Nigerian soldiers demystified and captured it.
After the capture of the once dreaded forest by Nigerian troops, Buratai promised to secure the location as a monument of the defeat of terrorism for the people of Borno, Nigerians and the world. And the Nigerian Army has lived up to its words. Soldiers have currently occupied the place and journalists are also operating freely in the zone. After audaciously repossessing Sambisa forest, soldiers have launched its physical restructuring, with the construction of access roads and other modern amenities.
Furthermore, for the final cleansing and official re-indoctrination of Sambisa forest, a former colonial game reserve, fouled by terrorists, the Army Chief opted for it as venue of the 2017 Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship. The arms championship is a training exercise among Nigerian Army formations and designed to sharpen the marksmanship skills of soldiers in active service.
Though, the Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship is held regularly, but it is discernible that the 2017 edition of the championship is remarkably unique in two respects.
Firstly, Nigeria’s President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari will be represented at the event by a high powered delegation to be led by the Honourable Minister of Defence to declare the arms championship open in Sambisa forest. The presidential blessings to the 2017 event is symbolically the ceremonial declaration of the defeat of Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria, the restoration of durable peace and the return of normalcy to the once troubled Nigeria’s Northeast region.
The event is also significant as a fulfillment of President Buhari’s campaign covenant with Nigerians to end Boko Haram insurgency and expeditiously embark on the rebuilding of the region ravaged by terrorism. The Almighty God has always favoured President Buhari to lead Nigeria at its most troubled times and in keeping faith with his pact with humanity and destiny. Buhari has never reneged on his words or ever disappointed Nigerians. The defeat of BHTs is the fulfillment of yet another such pact, which destiny placed on his shoulders and he sealed with Nigerians.
The COAS relived the essence of the arms championship in Sambisa forest as the finality of death of terrorism thus, “We also want the place to be dominated by our troops and also to get firm control, so that we will continue to dominate the area.”
As the world continues with the outpouring of encomiums on Nigerian military for the timely defeat of Boko Haram terrorists, most Nigerians least believed this pleasant hour, day and respite would ever be witnessed in their lifetime. Currently, scores of nations around the world are under the scourge of terrorism. And some have suffered this unenviable fate by far number of years than Nigeria’s nearly eight years battle with Boko Haram insurgents and its subsequent defeat.
Yet, these countries are still battling to surmount terrorism and the prospect of defeating this devious sect remains blurred till date. What is most awesome and pleasantly confounding in the Nigerian case is how a changed political leadership of the country as symbolized by President Buhari; the overhauling of the Nigerian military and the appointment of Gen. Buratai as the arrowhead of this counter-insurgency war, defeated terrorism within the shortest time in world history of anti-terrorism wars.
Agreed, there was the unfortunate incident of terrorism which unexpectedly berthed in the land and tormented the people for years. But sometimes, from evil, goodness could sprout. Here lies the optimism that Nigerians could still turn the misfortune of terrorism into a worthy asset with the final eclipse of Boko Haram terrorism in the country.
In this direction, the country must not forget that history has elevated Nigeria on a podium of pride among nations threatened by terrorism. Maiduguri or the Northeast region has assumed the character of a destination and city, unarguably qualified to be graded in the Guinness Book of Records as the first city in the world that crumbled and defeated terrorism.
Therefore, in future time, when the rebuilding process in the Northeast would have been completed, Nigeria’s political leadership would be acting positively and beneficially by fiddling with the idea of elevating Maiduguri into the status of a tourist destination for the world to visit, feel and experience the regeneration of a city once tormented by terrorists.
This solemnity also beckons on all religious leaders to step up their tempo of spiritualism in the Northeast and elsewhere to cleanse the desecrated land and most importantly, to also atone for the blood of the thousands of innocent people mowed down by terrorists in schools, eateries, market places, on the highways, churches, mosques, offices and so forth.
By so doing, they shall assist humanity recover faster from the tragedy and please God, the Creator. They can collectively work to erect an edifying sanctuary of God where all Nigerians can once in a while, stray into to worship, and seek the face of God and the forgiveness of sin for mankind.
But generally, there are manifold lessons other Nigerian leaders must learn from the current leadership of the Nigerian Army. President Buhari directed Buratai from the beginning to instantly end terrorism in Nigeria and the Northeast, to enable him to quickly rebuild the devastated region. The Army Chief adhered strictly to this presidential directive by providing simple, decisive and disciplined leadership that led to the compliance with the directive and the defeat of the terrorists.
In other words, Lt. Gen. Buratai has allowed other subordinate leaders in Nigeria to mirror through him, the administration of President Buhari’s commitment to the complete smothering of insurgency in Nigeria. And this feat has been achieved because the Nigerian Army, an institution which knows its onions, has demonstrated in words and actions, a total loyalty and commitment to this presidential inclination by defeating terrorism and the difference is obviously very clear. If other lesser leaders in Nigeria show this commitment to national assignments given to them, President Buhari would have fewer problems as Nigeria’s leader.
Bawa is a security expert and sent in this piece from Maiduguri, Borno State.