Keen observers of trends in the polity and the longsuffering residents of the North East of Nigeria bore witness to the advent of violent extremism in the embattled region and to the reticence of security operatives concerning indicators of imminent danger. As a direct consequence of that poor judgment, terrorism has been a part of everyday life for people in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (the BAY) States for over a decade today.
When the outlaws had armed confrontation in Maiduguri with the authorities in July 2009, it was obvious that the police and military were ill-equipped and ill-prepared to effectively combat the kind of terrorism Mohammed Yusuf and his lieutenants fronted. Obviously, terrorism in the order of Al Qaeda, Al Hamas and Al Shabab was alien. Inexperience bedeviled the initial efforts of regular combatants until a daredevil squad of special forces from Jos came to Maiduguri and took the fight to the insurgents. Consequently, the rebel leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was apprehended and his flocks scattered abroad.
Mid-2009 to 2010 witnessed an interregnum of sorts. There was relative peace and quiet. The insurgents, however, took the time to regroup and re-enforce their ranks. They haven’t looked back ever since. 2011 to date has unpalatable episodes of onslaughts and face-offs between forces at both ends of the unfortunate war. The war has dragged on for over a decade with the terrorists attacking Maiduguri, the state capital, intermittently, displacing millions of people, abducting thousands of villagers and travelers among a litany of other vices perpetrated by the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists.
Over the years, experience has proven beyond reasonable doubts that the military make progress in the war efforts only when they take the fight to the bloodthirsty terrorists. The late Lt Col. Abu Ali had his name indelibly emblazoned on the consciousness of Nigerians and the chronicles of the North East when, on the 14th of February, 2015, he led a team of T72 crewmen and combatant soldiers who took the fight to the terrorists and gave them hell until he died in his boots. After he fell, the situation became a potpourri of disaster, a barrage of excuses and a catalogue of propaganda.
In March, 2020, Boko Haram terrorists attacked and killed 92 Chadian soldiers in Boma, Lac Province, near the Niger-Nigeria border. The casualty figure was the highest ever recorded since inception of the crisis. An obviously angry President Idriss Déby of Chad swore to take the fight to the terrorists, give them hell and send them packing far away from the Lake Chad area. He lived up to the threats by boosting the morale of troops when he donned his old khaki and led from the front. In just eight days, the Chadian armed forces neutralised the Boko Haram sect when they dislodged them from their bases around the Lake Chad area, killed over a thousand of the terrorists, recovered firearms and ammunition and took control of the area.
The activities of the Chadians within the short time frame became the requisite spur for Gen. Buratai and the Nigerian armed forces that have also taken the fight to the terrorists and have been giving them hell and gradually prosecuting the unfortunate war to a logical conclusion. Imagine for a second that Nigerian troops didn’t recline to super camps to await attacks from Boko Haram and try to repel them, imagine what the Chadians were able to achieve in less than a fortnight, now imagine what our own troops would have achieved if they had taken the fight to the terrorists since Sunday, 26th July, 2009, when the drama started.
Jack Vince is a freelance journalist based in Maiduguri
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