In spite of current economic difficulties which is making millions of Nigerians worried and unhappy, an important development is unfolding which in the long run, would lay the foundation of prosperity and national development in Nigeria.
This development is no other than the speedy and steady progress being made by the gallant men and women of our Armed Forces in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency that has held the country hostage for a long time. The Army has made such progress that at the last count, it announced that it had set up a rehabilitation camp to reform and de-radicalize repentant Boko Haram militants.
For the Nigerian Army to be talking of setting up a center to house and rehabilitate repentant and surrendered terrorists of the Boko Haram can best be captured by the popular saying “wonders shall never end” and how time changes everything! It’s being a long journey and a significant transformation, from the days when the nation’s Army was on the run and could not confront the militants. That time, the Boko Haram, gleefully and arrogantly talked of establishing a Caliphate in those areas of North east Nigeria where it held sway, and those areas were quite a chunk of territory. In fact the group took over many towns and settlements notably in the northern part of Borno State and parts of Southern Adamawa State where it erased all semblance of Nigeria’s authority, hoisted its flag and installed its Emir, preparatory to the proclamation of its Caliphate!
The above was possible because the agenda of the then PDP Federal government was anything but good governance and national security. In the midst of the onslaught and gradual dismemberment of the nation by the terrorists, the former government of the PDP was concerned more with how to win the 2015 polls and continue presiding over the future collapse of the nation.
Before the advent of Muhammadu Buhari, the concern of government was massive looting of the treasury for the purpose of the well-being of the ruling political party and its members while officers and men of the Army fighting Boko Haram were left either to commit suicide fighting with little or sub-standard arms and ammunitions or abandon the war altogether.
The problem that befell our national security establishmentwas what most Nigerians now refer to as #Dasukigate. It was the shameful situation where funds in billions meant for military procurement and welfare of soldiers were being allegedly diverted by the then National Security Adviser (NSA), with the approval or so it seemed of a lackluster President Goodluck Jonathan! The looting spree and neglect of the needs of national security occurred in the other arms of the national security establishment as well as in all facets of national life under the supervision of the leadership of the then People’s Democratic Party (PDP). It is important that Nigerians should never forget this narrative so that we will not repeat it at the expense of the nation.
All Nigerians deserve commendation for the situation we have today where our Armed Forces is re-discovering itself, and returning to winning ways. Without the current good news from the Army, there is no way, any government policy or programme can succeed let alone be implemented. Peace is necessary for development and good governance. Nigerian voters and those who voted with prayers deserve commendation for the defeat of the erstwhile ruling party, which at the time it lost the March 28th 2015 elections, was clearly fatigued and incapable of effective governance.
It is a year since the All Progressive Congress (APC), came to power and barring other shortcomings of governance, clear and verifiable progress has been made in the area of national security. In this area, the APC government of President Muhammadu Buhari has incontrovertibly scored a high mark. Nigeria’s security is no longer uncertain, or the subject of endless meetings and summits with foreign leaders who continued to make pledges while terrorists had their way. Through clear commitmentto national security, President Buhari was able to imbue the Armed Forces with new confidence, ethics and professionalism which has manifested in the latter’s transformation into an Army to whom terrorists surrender to and flee from, and whose reputation and pride has been largely restored. The officers and men of the Armed Forces deserve commendation and those who fell and all who served in the war against Boko Haram deserve honour and tangible gifts from a grateful nation.
National security is one of the three cardinal agenda on the plate of President Muhammadu Buhari and his APC party and on which they won the 2015 elections. The other issues are fight against corruption, and economic revival and employment generation. It is clear however to everyone that without security and peace, neither anti-corruption nor economic revival can take place. PMB has made a lot of progress in the area of anti-corruption, by giving the nation an insight into some of the men and women who cheated and stole from the country, the places and avenues through which the stealing took place. He is working hard to stop or reduce the possibility of such monumental theft in the future. Though stealing of public funds will never stop unless those named and caught are convicted, jailed and stripped of their places of honour!
The routing of the Boko Haram by the Armed Forces is yet the greatest impetus to the planned economic revival of the nation. This revival and creation of employment opportunities involves re-integration of the economy of the war-ravaged North-east region with that of other parts of the country. The North-east is being now prepared for massive reconstruction and rehabilitation effort for which the World Bank has set aside the princely sum of $800 million while other donor agencies like the European Union, the African Development Bank and the Nigerian government have set aside various sums for the international reconstruction effort.
Already, in many parts of the North-east region, the irritating bombing activities of the Boko Haram have all but stopped. Inter-state and federal roads hitherto closed to traffic has re- opened while security personnel and emergency aid workers are being deployed in numbers to enhance security and free movement of people engaged in life-sustaining activities.
In the past two months, more than 11,500 persons abducted and detained in miserable conditions in the three ravaged states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa has been rescued and freed by different units of active Nigerian Army soldiers in the region. While we appreciate the effort of the Nigerian Armed Forces, it should be noted that Nigeria owes much gratitude for the security situation in the North-east today also to the international community that has rendered help to the country all the way. Notably, Nigeria’s neighbours in the Lake Chad region – Cameroun, Chad, Niger and Benin – as well as the leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the African Union.
The spectacular successes of the Armed Forces against the once- dreaded Boko Haram and its impact on national security and peace, gives hope that most things being equal and with patience and cooperation of all Nigerians, the administration of President Buhari will yet garner achievements that will make the rather lengthy period of waiting, worthwhile.
Louis Okoroma writes from Abuja and can be reached via email@example.com