By Kolawole Abe
Since 2009 when the Boko Haram insurgent group began a violent campaign in North-East Nigeria, there have been efforts by successive administrations towards addressing the challenge. In some quarters, it has been argued that the lackadaisical attitude of the government, especially between the period of 2010 to 2014, indeed gave the Boko Haram insurgent group the impetus to spread its nest and wreaked havoc of unimaginable proportion in Nigeria.
The Boko Haram crisis has also resulted in extensive damage to social, economic, health and market infrastructure. Numerous homes have been destroyed. Many schools, hospitals, markets and places of worship have been destroyed or closed. Many communities have been completely abandoned, especially in Borno and Yobe. There are limited numbers of teachers, doctors and other health workers, with over 500 teachers killed and many fleeing the region. While there is still a semblance of economic activity in some parts of the region, the economy of the region has virtually collapsed, with many parts of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, having lost key markets and other market-related infrastructure.
According to a report by the North-East Nigeria Recovery and Peace Building Assessment
(RPBA), “Since 2009, nearly 15 million people have been affected by the violence of Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, also known as Boko Haram and the resulting military operations in North-East Nigeria. The fighting became particularly intense from 2014, leading to the loss of an estimated 20,0001 lives and the displacement of 1.8 million people directly attributed to the violence, while further aggravating the weak economic development of the North-East with estimated infrastructure damage of US$ 9.2 billion and accumulated output losses of US$ 8.3 billion.”
This indeed gives an idea of the situation of things before the coming of the Muhammadu Buhari administration in 2015. Lest we also forget that there was also a time where the Boko Haram insurgents controlled over 17 local government areas and established caliphates and had earlier ransacked the headquarters of the Multinational Joint Task Force in Baga in an attack adjudged one of the deadliest attacks in the history of the Boko Haram insurgency.
In all of these, there were strong insinuations that the Boko Haram insurgency has political undertone in the festering of the conflict. However, there were not sufficient facts to buttress this point, other than the fact that it seems the Boko Haram insurgents were benefiting from insider information with regards to the counterinsurgency strategy of the Military.
It is instructive to state that this conspiracy was brought to the fore in 2016 when the Nigerian Military gained ascendency over the Boko Haram insurgents when its operational headquarters in Sambisa forest was taken over by troops, as well as the recapture of all the local government areas that were hitherto under the control of Boko Haram insurgents. After these incredible feats came, a campaign to discredit the efforts of the Muhammadu Buhari led government. This indeed gained traction through the covert sponsorship of the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents by groups either parading themselves as advocates of the people of rendering humanitarian assistance. There was also the external support the group was receiving in the areas of arms and ammunition and other logistics support through interests linked to the francophone countries surrounding Nigeria.
In all of these, the Nigerian Military has been able to keep the Boko Haram insurgents at bay and restricted their activities to the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin region in Borno State through the provision of sound leadership by the Military authorities as well as the provision of the needed political will by the political authorities. But there is a caveat because the most significant threat today remains political insurgency, which is a situation where some highly placed individuals engage in acts that undermine the efforts of government and the Military towards addressing the threats posed by terrorist and insurgent groups in the country.
This is indeed ironic and a reflection of what the country is contending with as regards the efforts of the government in the war against insurgency. These same set of people whose stock in trade is to play politics with human lives not minding whose ox is gored are also very skilled in using the killing of innocent citizens to mock government efforts in ensuring the protection of lives and properties in the country.
There are numerous instances where this trend has been exhibited. Aside from the fact that it is detrimental to the efforts of the Military, its psychological effect on the lives of Nigerians cannot be overemphasized. As it stands, I dare say the greatest threat to Nigeria is political insurgency, where there is a conspiracy to ensure that there is heightened insecurity in the country. And when this is the case, these mongers would still be the ones that would escalate how inefficient the government is, and also calling for the government to sack the Service Chiefs and many other nasty demands that defeats common sense.
In all of these, one thing that cannot be taken from the Muhammadu Buhari government since 2015 is that there has been a display of unparalleled commitment towards the ending the Boko Haram menace in Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari has indeed demonstrated that needed political will to complement the efforts of the Nigerian Military in North-East Nigeria and other parts of the country experiencing insecurity.
At this point and with the way things are going, the Nigerians must also be aware that the position taken by the National Assembly in recent times with regards to the efforts of the government in addressing the security challenges is more of playing to the gallery which is another attribute of political insurgency.
The spread of inaccurate information with regards to the operations of the Nigerian Military in North-East Nigeria by the likes of Amnesty International is another form of political insurgency. the funding of groups to perpetuate violence in the country also falls under the same category.
At this point, the list is inexhaustible because of the desperation of these harbingers of violence that would stop at nothing to undermine the efforts of the government in the war against insurgency in Nigeria. And therefore, the pertinent question is, what can be done to overcome Nigeria’s political insecurity?
The government must begin to sensitize the populace on the activities of individuals and groups that are engaged in acts that undermine National Security. The government must also get the buy of the stakeholders in the media, given the invaluable role of the media in National Security. If the government can succeed in controlling the narrative, through these highlighted activities, Nigeria’s political insecurity would be addressed adequately.
Abe is former PRO, National Association of Nigerian Students and wrote from Ado- Ekiti.