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Insecurity: Between Buhari’s Present And The Past – Facts And Fiction, By Dr. Uche Diala

File photo of one of the Maiduguri explosions

As at May 29th 2015, Nigeria was on literally fire. I mean real fire. Not the largely orchestrated noise we have today.

Nigeria was practically about being run over by Boko Haram terrorists; from the North East to North West down to Abuja FCT in the North Central and emboldened to dream of heading south. Churches and Mosques, Markets and Malls and other public spaces were being bombed all over. Even our police headquarters was not spared.

Our soldiers were not all in Sambisa or other forests and bushes. Many were in Abuja, the nation’s capital trying desperately to protect and defend our Churches, Mosques, business places and even police and military facilities. Any sincere person can attest to these. The danger and confusion were real and the fear palpable unlike the fear mongering, inciting fake news and propaganda being deliberately and mischievously spread on WhatsApp and other social media today.

Such was our undeniable, sordid, scary and dangerous situation when General Muhammadu Buhari Rtd came on board with the selfless support of many other patriotic and well-meaning Nigerians and the grace of God.

He came and first changed the Service Chiefs from potbellied ‘political’ Generals to battle tested professional soldiers. He literally and practically ordered them to stop hiding in their offices in Abuja that they had barricaded leaving us the bloody civilians to face sometimes certain death and take the battle to the devils in the bushes, forests, state capitals and local government areas of the North East and North West that had become over ran and almost surrendered or ‘ceded’ to terrorists and they did.

Within months, Abuja was secured, the barricades all over Abuja were removed, people were once more free to go to Churches and Mosques without fear of being bombed to death and without the indecency of being frisked by hand and scanned with metal detectors. More importantly, more of our soldiers were able to join their colleagues in the forests where the real battle was. Gradually, some degree of sanity and sense of normalcy began to return to the North East and the North West but the war was by no means over.

Unbeknownst to many Nigerians, that was just part one of Buhari’s assault on the insecurity bedeviling us and the nation.

As soon as 2015-16, realizing that our national armory was seriously depleted, military assets run down with no real weapons to prosecute the war, he put his military experience and personal integrity and good will to work for the good or our military and the nation. He was able to convince the West and other nations to sell vital and state of the art military assets which had been denied the nation on account of the irresponsible behavior of the immediate past Administration. Contracts for sophisticated war Planes, Aircrafts, weaponised Drones and other hardware were signed and productions started. Remember these things take time. They are not sold off the shelves. Even sanctions placed on Russia by the United States were waived so that Nigeria could receive military aircraft ordered from Russia. This was the same Nigeria that had become a pariah of sorts in international and military circles before Buhari came on board.

These Military Assets Ordered And Acquired  Include Among Others:

2 Nos Mi-35 Helicopters from Russia ordered in September 2015 and October 2019.

6 Nos Leonardo AW109 Helicopters from Italy.

12 Nos Super Tucano Light-attack Aircrafts from the United States.

2 Nos Mi-171E Helicopters from Pakistan.

3 Nos JF-17 multi-role Fighters from Pakistan.

Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System from the United States.

These are precision-guided munitions with a Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker with an effective firing range from 11km.

2 Nos Landing Ship Tanks, (LSTs) for the Nigerian Navy.

Ordered in 2019 and completed this year; it replaced the last ones Nigeria had which were ordered by General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1976, delivered in 1979 and both have since been de-commissioned.

That done and waiting for delivery, while many of us were shouting ‘sack Service Chiefs’, President Buhari quietly faced the military institution head on. Personnel welfare, morale, training and professionalism issues were addressed. Recall that before he came, our soldiers were so demoralized such that protests were common and they were even being driven into neighboring nations by Boko haram.

Those issues were extensively addressed and our troops regained confidence and fought Boko Haram with what they had while waiting for the military assets already ordered by their Commander in Chief to arrive.

Equally worthy of note is the fact that our local capacity in military weapons, equipment, arms and ammunition production and repair has been revamped under Buhari’s watch. The Nigeria Airforce garage was revived and it started in-country refurbishment of military aircrafts which were re-commissioned into combat.

At least 23 formerly unserviceable aircrafts have been locally refurbished and restored to flyable condition since Buhari took office in 2015.

These Include Among Others:

2 Nos Mi-35P attack helicopters refurbished in May 2018

Alpha Jet NAF 455

C-130H Aircraft in Lagos

Alpha Jets in Kainji

3 Nos L-39ZA in Kano.

These locally refurbished assets not only saved money for the nation and enhanced the skills of our military engineers; they have joined in the fight against insurgency and other criminal activities in Nigeria.

In addition, the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) was revamped and it started manufacturing weapons; from bullets to 30mm rockets to even producing Nigeria’s first Mine Resistance and Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, which was named the EZUGWU MRAP. These are presently in use in the battle field against Boko Haram and bandits by our troops.

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To complete the package, over 200 personnel including pilots and engineers were trained and re-trained in different countries around the world.

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) even went into partnership with Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM) Company, for the local manufacture and supply of spare parts for military jets conducting airstrikes against insurgents.

All these are easily verifiable.

At one point the military announced that Boko Haram had been ‘technically defeated” but many people did not comprehend. But YES it was indeed. How? Boko Haram was so decimated and incapacitated that its hitherto ability to carry out brazen attacks on cities and towns and take over entire local government areas at will was reduced to occasional hit and run attacks on soft targets. Having been so denied that joy, they faced our military with ferocity and venom and our military consistently took the hit on our behalf, while sadly many of us denigrate them and refuse to acknowledge and appreciate their sacrifice of blood, tears and death.

Now, as it became obvious that we were succeeding; old, not-so-new and new security challenges emerged. Farmer/herder clashes which had been with us for ages was given a new breathe of life, banditry; fueled mainly by the disruption of activities of illegal miners of gold and other solid minerals snowballed. In addition, secessionists from the South East and South West either birthed or ramped up their activities and all that added to the heightened state and perception of insecurity in the nation. Yet our military, alongside their Commander In Chief rose to the task, fighting on multiple fronts, defending the nation from both external and internal aggressions and aggressors.

Then, three, five and six years later, a significant amount of the heavy artillery and military assets proactively and intelligently ordered by Buhari started arriving and our already motivated troops have now happily taken the fight (what I call the ‘last fight’) to the misbehaving elements across the nation and the results we are all seeing; with scores of militants, bandits and Boko Haram terrorists neutralized and hundreds of them flying the white flag of surrender daily.

As that is happening, of course they are not expected to give up easily which is why we see the cowardly resort to attacking and abducting innocent school children including the recent attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) which regrettably cost the lives of at least two of our gallant soldiers.

Unpatriotic opposition elements, people who didn’t believe that Buhari and Nigeria would succeed in caging terrorism and insecurity, those who do not want the insecurity to be tamed or end so that they could continue to exploit it for their mindless politics or to pursue their own agenda; whether ethnic, political or personal and those who want to use it as a justification for their own failures; teaming up with a lazy, unpatriotic and irresponsible media; feeding on the large population of gullible and impressionable Nigerians have tried to ramp up the noise, playing down on the undeniable exploits of our brave military under the command of an experienced Commander in Chief, Buhari while playing up and amplifying the few successes (if I may call it that) of these terrorists and enemies of the nation so as to create the impression that nothing is being done, nothing has been achieved; WHICH IS CLEARLY NOT TRUE.

A lot has been done and is being done. YES. Insecurity is still present, no question but our military has the upper hand and are running things now unlike before when ‘things were running them’. Beautifully President Buhari still has 22 clear months left in his tenure to consolidate on the fight. This is very much unlike the case in 2015, when weeks to end of the tenure of the last Administration, elections were postponed for 6 weeks purportedly to allow for the military to push back Boko Haram so that elections could hold.

Administration has significantly and undeniably re-built, re-equipped, re-professionalized and re-positioned our military such that whoever succeeds him from 2023 would have the proper military assets and resources to continue with the task of securing the nation. An advantage/privilege which was not bequeathed to Buhari by his own predecessors. A task which by the way is a continuous undertaking. There will always be security challenges; old and new, especially in a nation like ours with many politicians who have made blood their political capital added to a citizenry who do not think or understand that security is everyone’s business.

Anyone who says he or she is a sincere or patriotic Nigerian (even critic) who does not know, pretends not to know, cannot or does not understand and acknowledge this true, unbiased and factual narrative that I penned here, is not worthy to be called one.

My Igbo people usually ask in a proverb: ‘How many times will a man kill a lion before he is called a lion killer (Ogbuagu)’? The answer is once.

Buhari is a Lion Killer (Ogbuagu), whether anyone acknowledges it or not and posterity will be kind to him. He is the father of the modern Nigeria nation and Military. Those who cannot realize it now, will do so later.

#GodBlessNigeria

@Uche Diala

druchediala@gmail.com.

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