When President Muhammadu Buhari started reeling out marching orders to service chiefs towards the end of last year, it became glaring that the counter-terrorism gear would change in the days ahead. It emerged that the Nigerian military, fighting off doubts about its reputation for routing the enemy, will do more than revenge and recrimination as a fitting answer to the killings in the country, including loss of its gallant men.
In his New Year message to Nigerians in a live broadcast on January 1 this year, the president literally clutched his plans to his chest while assuring an anxious nation that the Armed Forces is committed to providing security and safety to Nigerians at every location in the country. But this was not after he had cautioned against possible politicisation of security.
Last year, Buhari held series of extensive security meetings with the service chiefs and intelligence forces to review the entire counter-terrorism strategy, notwithstanding what was being widely speculated as increasing attacks and killings. These series of meetings have remarkably provided the solid ground for another round of decisive and definitive military offensive against the terrorists operating along the critical axis, a process that is widely seen as an urgent necessity considering the obvious successes of the Nigerian military in driving the insurgents out of the Nigerian territory.
The marching orders handed security chiefs by President Buhari recently seems to have changed the mindset of the security top brass who, like cannons overcharged with double cracks, are descending on terrorists, bandits, and other criminals in the country with the ferocity of a wounded lion.
With the new strategy adopted by the service chiefs, the troops have incrementally bombarded, by air and ground, the tactical and logistics bases of terrorists, bandits and criminals in compliance with the orders of the president to restore normalcy to the regions.
Before now, the security agencies were operating in silos, thereby causing unhelpful and unnecessary inter-agency rivalry which often made them work at cross-purposes. But President Buhari, as commander-in-in-chief of the nation’s armed forces, and his security chiefs have pursued a workable approach that emphasises operational jointness, cooperation and collaboration among the organs of the armed forces as well as other security agencies. This approach is largely responsible for the current successes recorded in the renewed onslaught against bandits and terrorists.
History has shown that the present crop of service chiefs led by the Chief of Defence, General Lucky Irabor as well as heads of the police and security and intelligence agencies were selected by President Buhari for a time like this that the nation is at war on all fronts. We can attest to their courage, tenacity, resilience and resourcefulness in the face of fast-changing security dynamics.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), has also not relented in ensuring that the presidential directive to the service chiefs to rejig their operational and intelligence strategies to curb further escalation of criminality in the country is perfected.
For Gen Mongonu, no doubt, the role of intelligence gathering in a nation’s security architecture cannot be overemphasized. That’s where the dexterity of the Chief Spy Officer lies. As a man who has spent quality working years in the intelligence community, organizing a viable security system for Nigeria is like a walk in the park.
The chemistry of the crack team is incredible, especially in the manner the president has used synergy, intelligence and information-sharing to secure and stabilize the nation against terrorism, banditry and other criminality. The cumulative effect is the renewed efforts by the military to decimate the various terror groups operating in the North West where thousands of people were killed and kidnapped in 2021.
On New Year day, Nigerian Air force jets bombed to death two other bandits’ leaders and their followers in Gusami forest in Zamfara State. A few days after military operations in killed two leaders of terror groups and their members, another kingpin, Bello Turji, was rattled to the extent of releasing dozens of victims his group kidnapped. Turji’s release of 52 kidnap victims is part of his efforts to appease the Buhari government towards granting him an amnesty. Turji wrote a ceasefire letter to President Buhari, Governor Bello Matawalle and the emir of Shinkafi seeking for amnesty.
Military air strikes have continued to smoke out bandits and criminals in Kaduna, Zamfara and the environs to the satisfaction of the people of the areas. Following President Buhari’s marching orders, the service chiefs and their commanders have been re-mapping, re-drawing, re-strategising and recalibrating with a series of simulation and tactical plans to set a new tone in the fight against criminality across the country. Feelers from the revamped fighting strategy of the nation’s Military High Command indicate that terror itself is in serious trouble.
The ongoing intensive clearance operations of the Armed Forces conducted along other security and intelligence forces against menacing terrorists and bandits have totally altered the face of terror in the North East, North West and North Central regions. In the past few months, combined teams of the military, the police and other security and intelligence agencies have consistently bombarded, by air and ground, the tactical and logistics bases of terrorists, bandits and criminals in compliance with the orders of President Buhari to restore normalcy to the regions.
From available statistics, armed bandits are already getting the same heat. Consequently, thousands of battle-tired Boko Haram and ISWAP fighters have surrendered and more are still surrendering. This is interpreted globally as key indicators that Nigeria under Buhari is far from pre-July 2015 when troop casualties estimated at about 500 per cent arising from cases of low morale, armed attacks, killings, maiming, abductions and missing in actions, etc. It is now as low as five per cent.
Nigerians should not despair. They must be fully involved and not leave the war to the president and the military alone. Boko Haram was defeated until ISWAP entered but just as President Buhari stated recently, we know we are on the last lap of the war against terror, especially as the entire nation fully backs the military.
From research, I have made and my interactions with security chiefs of developed countries, it is clear that Nigeria is not alone in this. We can talk about Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe, Somalia, and within our sub-region, it is happening. This is a global trend, and we should begin to look at this from a global perspective, not only from the local perspective.
The politicians trying to thwarting the course and imputing partisanship, thereby politicizing what should ordinarily have created a common ground for all citizens to find common answers to the national security conundrum are enemies of the country. But your guess is as good as mine that these unscrupulous elements in the country cannot differentiate what the terms confidential documents, top secret and restricted files mean in the security parlance. If they do, they would give kudos to President Buhari, the NSA and service chiefs rather than degradation.
But the youths are getting impatient with induced insecurity and partisan protests by those responsible for the carnage in the land. The partisan merchants of violence and killings are contracted to cause unrest, agonies and bloodshed in parts of the country. They are pursuing a mission to claim power from the backdoor, as typified by their constant criticisms against the Buhari administration. The plot is to discredit President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, blur the successes of the Service Chiefs to find public justification to discredit the hard-working and dedicated security team
To this end, well-meaning Nigerians must strongly condemn actions by some individuals who are dancing to the tunes of these demonic souls and anti-democratic forces. It is clear to us that they scheme to throw the country into total chaos and lawlessness by sponsoring violence, killings and at the same time inducing the citizens to embark on protests against the country’s leadership.
– Ibrahim is director, Communications and Strategic Planning, of the Presidential Support Committee (PSC).