Is Nigeria still winning the war on insecurity?
Twine main polemics dominate national discourse on security issues in Nigeria. The first camp basically comprises ardent critics and opposition members who are hostile to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. To this club of Nigerians, enmeshed in a partial mindset, its more convenient to score the national government led by President Buhari and the ruling APC zero on security.
They claim since 2015, Buhari has proved pitiable helplessness in taming insecurities in the land, which in their perceptive view, rather escalates every day. This is altogether not unusual with opposition elements in any clime, which does not necessarily obviate the reality anyway.
There is another clan of people. They are the impartial and neutral set of Nigerians, who glowingly glorify President Buhari for impacting positively on the previously enervating insecurity in the nation. They argue most trenchantly that there is nowhere that insecurity in a country is completely conquered and the sense can only stick if it dawns on anyone that the United States of America, the United Kingdom and many others are still under the spell of terrorism.
It is utopian to think insecurities anywhere should end in a jiffy. Rather, it is reduced to the barest minimum as exemplified by President Buhari, if measured against the insecurity realities prior to his ascension to power in 2015.
These disparate and counter-reactive views on the insecurity situation in Nigeria have subsisted. However, all opposing camps accept that wild insecurity engulfed Nigeria and predated the administration of President Buhari. The anti-establishment analysts on security cite resurgent acts such as in Boko Haram/IWSAP terrorists; armed banditry, ethno-religious conflicts, organized and commercialized kidnapping and communal strifes to impulsively buttress their standpoint.
But the pro-establishment camp, whose voice aligns more to the truth, ancient wisdom and informed reason extrapolate that such erratic traces of insecurities are expected, normal and curbed gradually to ensure greater safety of lives and property. It is not difficult to discern the reality of an immolated insecurity by the ruling APC government led by President Buhari, despite intermittent resurgence of attacks and killings. Those who obstinately stick to views that nothing has changed on security in Nigeria under the Buhari Presidency deserve pity. It is certain that they are pretentious, prejudiced, sentimental or genuinely oblivious of its intensity before now.
The severity of insecurity threats to Nigeria was encapsulated in President Buhari’s 2020 New Year open letter to Nigerians tagged “Nigeria’s Decade;” He stated that “We have been fighting on several fronts: violent extremists, cultists and organized criminal networks. It has not been easy. But as we are winning the war, we also look to the challenge of winning the peace, the reconstruction of lives, communities and markets. The North East Development Commission will work with local and international stakeholders to help create a new beginning for the North East.”
The presidential perspective on insecurity in Nigeria is more clearly elucidated by the recent position of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) through its Secretary-General of ACF, Mr. Anthony Sani.
Appraising President Buhari’s administration on security of the nation, especially in Northern Nigeria where Boko Haram had engrained its reign of terror , the ACF said; “He, therefore, decided to confront the challenges and recorded some appreciable successes which consigned Boko Haram to fringes of the North East and their attacks were reduced to occasional suicide bombings using small girls. Consequently, the fears which hitherto overwhelmed the North gave way to hope and confidence that comes with normal life.”
Two elements can be deduced and denoted from the submissions of ACF, a body which also has Northern Nigeria as its primary constituency. The first is that Boko Haram and its later variation is no longer the severe nightmare of the entire North and, again, its atrocious activities have been consigned to the fringes of the Northeast equally being tackled. It is no less a reflection of the true reality. Truth be told that many Nigerians started enjoying this bliss from terrorism and allied criminalities as far back as 2016. There was a time armed banditry and cattle rustling sacked and permanently displaced natives in most states of the Northwest and same for monstrous militancy in the Niger Delta. The Nigerian Army’s series of special operations flushed out these criminal elements and restored peace and normalcy.
No one has ever argued that insecurity has deserted Nigeria terminally, but it is considerably tamed. Unfortunately, though, the relaxed tide in insecurities across the country has irked certain interests who believed the best style to de-market the administration of President Buhari is to infuse political dimension into security.
Therefore, apart from covertly recruiting and arming youths, while silently pursuing political ambitions, the consciousness of such plotters of breach of security has never reconciled with the reality of a changed scenario on the security trajectory.
As far back as 2016 signs to this effect manifested as trumpeted by the COAS and leader of the counter-insurgency operations, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai. He told an unsuspecting nation, which incidentally never spared a thought to his outbursts or acted appropriately that ”All these cries of insecurity which some groups and individuals are taking it as a political game I think they should have a rethink because it is no longer the case. ”
Interestingly, shadows of the induced and politically motivated insecurity in the country would later de-robe itself with public statements from prominent opposition members and their minions. In one of his campaign affronts on the Buhari Presidency in 2018, the 2019 PDP presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar gave the inkling of politically induced insecurities, in a somewhat blackmailing fashion of Nigerians to magnate undeserved votes.
Atiku was blunt that if Nigerians fail to vote him as their President in 2019, insecurity and herdsmen killings in the country will continue. The statement smacked of the insight of an insider. But as usual Nigerians ignored him. It was only when Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorism and herdsmen bloodbath intensified in the months leading to the 2019 general elections that the full import of his utterances dawned on Nigerians. In protests to such devilry, Nigerians again massively reelected Buhari.
Nigerians were also appalled at the quantum of illegal/ smuggled arms and ammunition into the country in the build-up to the last general elections. Security agents impounded many of these illicit arms and ammunitions, at different points in the country. And to every sane mind, these arms in the possession of political thugs were actively used to cause electoral violence and killings in the few areas security vigilance relaxed. Most of those armed have retained these arms; after being abandoned by their masters.
They have turned the force and anger against innocent Nigerians by perpetrating all manner of crimes, attacks and killings. Last year, a bewildered President Buhari directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to mop us these arms, as indication of his perturbance.
In fact, each time these criminal armed gangs pull the trigger in mindlessly violent extermination of Nigerians, it is the opposition’s voice that is heard first. And it is usually rare in sympathy with victims of such attacks, but virulent castigation of the Buhari Presidency’s failings on securing lives and property of Nigerians. Even when external bodies which independently understudies the insecurity dilemma in Nigeria applauds Buhari’s efforts, opposition elements are quick to counter the narratives’ as false.
A recent report by the United States based Non-Governmental Organization by the identity, “Centre for Diplomacy and Democracy” praised President Buhari for standing up to the challenge of multiple insecurities. And Atiku again broke his silence.
After pouring invectives on the NGO, Atiku furiously stated that “President Buhari and the APC have shown without equivocation that the job at hand is overwhelming for them. And because they lack the basic clue of how to tame the bogey that they have created….”
A part from the jejune that drapes throughout the length and breath of the statement; the contents’ riled, rhymed, alluded and indeed, connoted the actualization of the plots on threats of insecurity Atiku reeled out before the general elections.
Whatever anybody thinks, and including the opposition elements, President Buhari and Nigeria are winning the war on insecurities. And like President Buhari remarked on 2020 New Year day epistle; “The Federal Government will continue to work with State Governors, neighbouring states and our international partners to tackle the root causes of violent extremism and the networks that help finance and organise terror. Our security forces will receive the best training and modern weaponry… We will use all the human and emerging technological resources available to tackle kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery.”