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B/Haram: When America hailed the war against terrorism


B/Haram: When America hailed the war against terrorism

Refreshingly, Nigeria’s suc­cessful prosecution of the anti-terrorism campaigns in the Northeast rever­berated again on the global scene quite commendably. Recently, America’s Secretary of State, Mr. Rex Tillerson mouthed excep­tional appreciation to Nigeria for its fruitful battles against Boko Haram insurgency.
Quite impressively, Tillerson echoed it when assessing the un­abated torment of parts of the globe with terrorism by the Ira­nian ISIS. The US scribe hinted of the sound logic and wisdom of wars not restricted to weaponry alone, which Nigeria has exempli­fied perfectly.
Tillerson spoke glowingly about the diversity of counter-terrorism tactics and strategies in terrorism wars, which Nigeria has effectively deployed in its confrontation of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs). The positive results therefrom, as he admitted, compelled him to implore nations of the world un­der similar threats to emulate the Nigerian example.
Aside urging coalition on all fronts from nations in the assault on world terrorism, Tillerson pointedly proclaimed, at the meet­ing of ‘Global Coalition Work­ing to Defeat ISIS’ comprising 68 countries, which held in Wash­ington, D.C, thus, “But let me be clear: we must fight ISIS online as aggressively as we would on the ground.”
The US scribe was precisely navigating the warfare mindset of the Great Mao Zedong, the founder of the Peoples Republic of China and chairman, Communist Party of China. Zedong believed, “Weapons are an important factor in war, but not the decisive one; it is man and not materials that counts.”
Narrowing it back home, when President Muhammedu Buhari commissioned the Nigerian mili­tary to terminate the reign of Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria, many Nigerians thought the time has come for the might of military weapons to subdue the menace of terrorism. Prior to this moment, when insurgents besmirched Ni­gerian troops on the battlefield of counter-insurgency, Nigerians decried the sophistry of terrorists’ weapons against Nigerian military.
But President Buhari knew bet­ter that what it takes to win such wars is beyond the sophistry of weapons or the raging sounds of boots and guns. Therefore, an internal search for competent and courageous military officers to lead the anti-terrorism battle, resulted into his appointment of General Abayomi Olonisakin as Chief of Defence Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai, as Chief of Army Staff,
Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar as Chief of Air Staff and Vice Admi­ral Ibok-Ete Ibas as Chief of Naval Staff who served as vanguard of the counter-insurgency war.
The profile of these seasoned military officers are on the finger­tips of Nigerians. They have an un­tainted reputation as a dexterous, knowledgeable, tactful, coura­geous and disciplined professional soldiers. The manner they an­chored the anti-terrorism combats have etched not only his name, but that of Nigeria on the global map, when nations commune to discuss strategies of defeating terrorism in the world.
It is also an established fact that Boko Haram terrorists group, the affiliate of ISIS in what the sect calls its West African Province, remain one of the deadliest and bloodiest terrorist sects on the African continent. But unfortu­nately, its origins started in Ni­geria. Nigeria battled with it for years, without success until Presi­dent Buhari emerged on the scene and directed the Chief of Defence Staff and the Service Chiefs to lead the battle as was exemplified in the movement of the Military Com­mand and Control Centre from Abuja to Maiduguri, the epicentre of Boko Haram insurgency. In par­ticular, the Nigerian Army started the campaigns against terrorism with warfare, but had to initiate series of tactics and strategies at every stage of war.
Briefly, these strategies and tac­tics resulted into first, the weaken­ing of the sect members or opera­tions and when the battle reached its crescendo, insurgents were decimated and later, defeated, for which Nigeria has continued to earn global recognition.
Perhaps, many may know for the first time of the adoption of these diverse strategies by the Ni­gerian Army’s hierarchy for the defeat of Boko Haram terrorists, brought about the much needed respite and peace to Nigerians and the sub-region.
It is imperative to note that the wisdom and experience of the Ni­gerian military and in particular, the Army, in leading a sensitive and delicate war on terrorism would realize the various non-combative dimensions and requirements of the war to humble the enemies. When Nigerian troops consistent­ly dealt fatal blows to insurgents on the battlefield, terrorists and the agents as well as sponsors retreat­ed into disguised cyber warfare against Nigerians.
They feigned or fabricated online publications about terror­ists’ bloody attacks on military formations and civilian popula­tions which were at best a farce. Terrorism agents also publicized on social and even traditional media a fake weapons sophistry and might of terrorists against Nigerian army and tales about exploits that existed only in the realm of imagination of the ter­rorists.
The essence was to frighten the civilian population which was being rescued and dampen the morale of troops. But the Army realized the change of tactics by the enemies and im­pressed it on its troops. Con­sequently, it devised the army’s counter-cyber warfare strategy in tackling the propaganda of terrorists. The Army’s Director­ate of Information was reinvigo­rated and energized. And apart from its proactive steps in han­dling such matters, it deflated the antics and propaganda of terror­ists and their agents effectively, restoring the needed confidence in all stakeholders.
Additionally, in spite of the seriousness of the anti-terrorism campaigns, the Army leadership properly decoded the social psy­chology of the war as they knew that some Boko Haram foot -sol­diers, were forced, hoodwinked or even charmed to enlist into the devious sect. Therefore, the Defence Headquarters offered them a window to voluntarily renounce membership of Boko Haram sect, by offering the Safe Corridor initiative.
Scores of Boko Haram mem­bers submitted themselves to soldiers, without a gunshot in the air, a development which further depleted the ranks of insurgents. Those who surrendered were camped into special centres for re-orientation or what the mili­tary termed de-radicalization and de-militarization of their violent instincts before re-uniting with the larger society.
And to further choke terrorists, the military identified and secured all internal routes and avenues that supplied food, arms and ammuni­tions to insurgents as well as their families. Starvation on the domes­tic front badly affected terrorists’ families and caused more than a stir. It resulted in “wives revolt” as they assailed their terror’ husbands with faces of starvation, fear of the unknown and threats to abandon them if they fail to renounce terror­ism. It caused dissension in Boko Haram camps, as some terrorists revolted against their masters and further renounced the sect, prefer­ring to reunite with their families to live in peace.
At the defeat of terrorism, In­ternally Displaced Persons (IDPs) dreaded going back to their an­cestral abodes. Apart from the emptiness IDPs felt returning to completely ruined homes, there was the phobia of protection from incidental attacks by terrorists. The development had the spiral effect of emboldening terrorists with a false illusion that even the army and IDPs knows the war is not over. We could not tolerate the im­pression.
Thus, to surmount the problem, the Nigerian Army kick-started the rebuilding process, construct­ing damaged roads, opening up closed routes, creating new access roads like in Sambisa forest and were in the vanguard of mobilizing support to assist the IDPs return to their communities. This was fol­lowed by various campaigns for peace and reconciliation in the Northeast and enlightenment on more vigilance and Security con­sciousness. There was increased military visibility in these com­munities to give confidence to re­turnees.
These strategies further weak­ened terrorists and substantially kept them away from the shores of Nigeria, having realized that the people have decided to take their destiny into their hands. Insurgents fled to neighbouring countries, from where they would launch occasional attacks on soft targets and retreat again.
Today, despite the conspiracies against Nigeria in its anti-terrorism campaigns, the world knows the country has crossed the proverbial Rubicon in the battle against ter­rorists. Therefore, the success of the counter-insurgency war in Ni­geria had much to do with weap­ons, but also equally important, the non-combative wisdom and intel­ligence, which the military devised at the progression stages of the war. It explains Tillerson’s plea for na­tions to fight ISIS terrorism more aggressively on the cyberspace, much as on the battlefield.
Pleasantly, Tillerson’s testimony is confirmation of Nigerian mili­tary’s extraordinary wisdom in prosecuting the counter-insurgen­cy war in Nigeria, as in terrorism warfare, where weapons fail to yield results, non-combative methods work conveniently. It is virtually through the wisdom spearheaded by President Muhammadu Buhari that Nigeria has defeated terrorists and its flag flying in high places around the world today.
This is another glorious mo­ment for all Nigerians anywhere in the world to jubilantly be proud of their beloved country. It goes to explain that no matter the extent detractors attempt to blot Nigeria’s shinning glitz, the world cannot be blinded to this reality.
– Okanga writes from Agila, Benue State. - The Authority

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