By Philip Agbese
In my proud African-ness, I subscribe to the tradition of polygamy as inherited from my fore fathers. It is not because I am unmindful of the strains or sometimes, its near fatal consequences in a family. But only a polygamous man knows and can actually vouch on who among his wives is the best in whatever nuance.
I celebrate Nigerian politicians, activists and public affairs commentators and even antagonists for their consciousness in enlivening public discourse on Any Government in Power(AGIP). Straightforwardly, these revered personalities of different camps have tasted the previous administration in Nigeria and the current leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. And like the proverbial two wives, they know which one is better.
And I have read some refreshing consensus verdicts a long time ago, concluding that President Buhari is indeed, the better wife, if I am permitted to adopt this euphemism in my description of his leadership of the nation. The conclusion reminds me of its blend with an American writer, Elbert Hubbard who praised the concept of polygamy as “… An endeavor to get more out of life than, there is in it.”
Personally, I have no smidgeon of doubt about the steller leadership qualities of President Buhari and his impactful outings on Nigeria’s leadership rostrum in the near five years of his sojourn in Aso Rock. He has accomplished much and really made the difference in more ways than I ever imagined. But life and security of lives is everything in the existential struggle of nations and its leaders.
Therefore, I intend to appreciate and interrogate my write-up from the perspective of President Buhari’s courage and commitment in tackling insecurity, particularly, Boko Haram insurgency. I shall concentrate on popping up salient benefits Nigerians have derived from Buhari’s suppression of infectiously toxic Boko Haram terrorism in Nigerian and the compelling need to appreciate his Presidency in superlative thankfulness.
Firstly, no one can dispute that the national capital of any country in the world is its symbol and pride. It expresses all such a country embodies. But we are all witnesses to the destructive fangs of Boko Haram terrorism on Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT) before the Buhari Presidency. Bomb explosions and killings everyday submitted the country’s fate to boundless mourning.
Fear in Abuja residents replaced courage and the belief, even among ardent believers that God alone protects or that any Nigerian leader could eclipse this burden. But President Buhari has transcended this challenge, as Boko Haram bombs have ceased to explode anywhere in Abuja since he became leader of the nation. We owe him a debt of gratitude.
We should be glad that President Buhari has been able to curtail Boko Haram aggressive expansions, with bomb explosions in the ancient city of Kano and Kaduna among others, where the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as well as other top personalities, worship centers and other places were regular targets of insurgents attacks.
Mr. President deserves our collective panegyrics for enabling the release of nearly 20,000 Nigerians silently held in captivity, including almost all the abducted Chibok and Dapchi schoolgirls by Boko Haram. More families under Buhari’s reign have had respite than sorrows after years of reunification with beloved ones severed by insurgency.
We should all be indebted to President Buhari for dislodging commercial Boko Haram agents and mercantile proxies, who invaded the forests and caves of Kogi state manufacturing Improved Explosive Devices (IEDs) and other devices. It was their avowed determination to create an easy transit route to export terrorism to Southern Nigeria.
And I also think Nigerians should be grateful to the Buhari Presidency for ensuring religious and tradition leaders deposed from their fiefdoms at the peak of insurgency are back home today. They were forced to take refuge in alien lands and their domains occupied by insurgents. But these deposed leaders have been reinstated in their kingdoms.
The Shehu of Bama , Kyari Ibn Umar El-Kanemi; his Dikwa Masa II counterpart, and many others were some victims of insurgency forced to desert their communities for asylum in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital. But they have all returned to their domains because of the pervasive peace and security in the Northeast region. At the last Muslim feast of Eid-el-Kabir, the Shehu of Bama Kingdom confessed to elaborate celebration of the festival in his domain with his people, for the first time in five years.
I am also excited with President for asserting the supremacy of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the independent state of Nigeria. Under the Buhari Presidency, 18 LGAs coercively annexed and occupied by insurgents, who declared Gwoza as their “Islamic Caliphate’s” administrative headquarters have all been reclaimed by the Nigerian Army. No part of Nigeria is under Boko Haram annihilation now.
Hitherto, I observed that Boko Haram insurgents made it a favourite past time to inflict pains and sorrows on Nigerians at special festivities like Sallah, Christmas and New Year celebrations by freely visiting horrendous atrocities on celebrants. These seasons were full of apprehensions, anxieties and phobia in Nigerians. But President Buhari’s expert handling of insurgency through the Nigerian Military has vanished these tensions. For years running, insurgents have become impotent to violently disrupt such festivities with blood and tears anywhere in Nigeria.
The United Nations (UN) years back pegged the number of IDPs by insurgency at 2.4 million Nigerians. They were scattered in IDPs camps in Nigeria and neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroun, while the number kept multiplying. We have to be thankful to Buhari for creating the enabling secured environment for the massive return of IDP to deserted communities and villages in the Northeast. The returnees have not only settled down to eke a living, but are also picking up from the ruins and devastations caused by terrorism, as populations in IDPs camps depreciate thinner and thinner.
Buhari’s administration has been able to halt the trend of Boko Haram’s free recruitment of thousands of our youths who were hypnotized and consecrated into killers for the Boko Haram sect. They served as insurgents’ foot soldiers and provided the manpower for a thriving terrorism. But this phenomenon has been extinguished, thereby saving our youths susceptible to Boko Haram recruitment and an endangered life. Buhari deserve praises.
And closely related, everyone is aware hundreds of agile youths were already victims of Boko Haram’s charmed enlistment into the evil sect. They were trained by insurgents in the art of killings through bombs detonations and other murderous acts. But through the COAS and leader of the counter-insurgency, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai’s adoption of the “stick and carrot,” hundreds of these initiated Nigerian youths voluntarily denounced Boko Haram and surrendered to the Nigerian Army. Souls have been saved under this administration.
The Army has gone a step further to de-militarize and de-radicalize repentant insurgents after months in camps specified for the purpose. Therefore, the repentant insurgents have been re-absorbed into a sane society and reunited with estranged families. It’s worthy of appreciation to President Buhari that his government has rescued some of our youths who went astray, and reoriented them, something akin to poet John Milton’s rendition in “Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained.”
It pained us that the Northeast region was completely ruined by the activities of Boko Haram insurgency. Aside gruesome killings, the quantum of destructions to public and private properties was awful. Schools, hospitals, roads, markets, banks, and offices were reduced to rubbles as Boko Harm held the Northeast region spellbound every day. But since Buhari has ensured the return of substantial peace and security, the destroyed public buildings are being rebuilt. Through the Northeast Development Commission and Presidential Initiative on the Northeast, the arrested development denied populations of the region by insurgency is gradually being restored.
I must appreciate President Buhari for ensuring the return of peace and security especially in the trilogy states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa and with it, the animation of normal life in all spheres. Markets, banks, farms, nightlife and flocks of activities have resumed in these states, where Boko Haram was an everyday experience and surviving residents or natives recoiled into their shells for the fear of terrorists. Life is sweeter for a man physically and mentally free from any inhibition of fear.
Our people have every reason to sing acclamations to President Buhari for warming his path into the hearts of Governments of Western nations who have accepted to sell combat equipment to Nigeria for the combat of Boko Haram terrorism. These previously hesitant foreign nations have also consented to extend military technical assistance to the Government of Nigeria. Such western nations declined the requests in the past citing human rights abuses by the military in the prosecution of the counter-terrorism war, against extant laws international laws.
But President Buhari’s diligent prosecution of the terrorism, with the Chief anchor officer, Gen. Buratai, dispensed it in accordance with international best practices, sacred respect for the human rights of Nigerians and strict adherence to the Rules of Engagement (ROE) by the Army has vacated the ban on arms sale restriction to the FGN. Therefore, by 2020, America which was the first country to kick against sale of military equipment to Nigeria will supply 12 Tucano fighter jets to the Nigerian military to fight Boko Haram.
And a few days back, President Buhari signed a military deal with Russia at the just concluded Russia- African Summit in Sochi for the renewal of Nigeria-Russia Military Technical Agreement. The agreement will be a springboard of Nigeria’s efforts to purchase military hardware from Russia on government-to-government basis. It will also nose at Russia’s military training of Nigerian soldiers on terrorism. Precisely, Russian President Vladimir Putin endorsed support of Nigeria with military equipment, Infrastructure and training facilities.
Its apt confirmation that as difficult as the asymmetrical counter- terrorism warfare appears, President Buhari has scaled international standards on human rights violations, without which the country would have been continued to suffer pariah status on military aid and deprived of the necessary military assistance to finally terminate Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria.
What has gladdened my heart more jubilantly in the prevailing peace in the troubled Northeast region is the temperate environment it has created for internal development initiatives. It raised the peaceful conditions for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to work for the discovery of oil and gas in the Northeastern part of the country in commercial quantities at the Gongola Basin.
NNPC’s Acting Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Samson Makoji who broke the cheering news in a public statement said, the oil and gas discovered in Gongola Basin will attract foreign investments, generate employment and increase government revenues for Nigeria. Every Nigerian should thank Buhari for this novel accomplishment in Northern Nigeria.
Why won’t Nigerians be grateful to President Buhari when he has ensured children in schools in the Northeast displaced by Boko Haram have returned back to learning centers’, under a better and conducive atmosphere? It is a remarkable departure with the past, when a daring or vicious Boko Haram sent more and more school age children out of school into IDPs camps, thereby mortgaging their future and that of the country.
And quite surprisingly, most of us are not aware that Boko Haram has graduated from a small gang of armed political thugs to terrorists of international backing from the Republic of Iran. Boko Haram factional leaders, Abubakar Shekau and Musab Al-Barnewi have both professed affinities with Iranian-based and globally recognized terror groups in the Middle East.
These include ISIS, ISWAP, Al-Qaeda and many others who provide cash funding in foreign currencies and equipment supply to Boko Haram terrorists. It implies a strong and smoldering desire to takeover Nigeria at all cost. The desperation is palpable.
But President Buhari through the Nigerian military held have remained firm and assertive in combat of terrorism. With Gen. Buratai in the trenches, Boko Haram insurgents have spiritedly and fruitlessly attempted to retake territories reclaimed from them by the Nigerian Army, much less expansion. Nigerians should be excited with Buhari , without him Boko Haram would have overran Nigeria by now and so easily like floods.
There is no doubt in my mind that President Buhari is a leader, who knows where the nation aches deeper and how to apply the soothing balm for peace and security. He is my metaphor of a South African proverb which says, “ A clever king is the brother of peace,” or like the Ethiopians would say, “Even in the monastery, there is occasion for songs and merriments. Nigerians, let’s celebrate President Buhari, my iconic leader on counter-terrorism.
Agbese is a researcher in human rights laws and contributed this piece from the United Kingdom.