© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Has Buhari delivered on security promise?
There are some campaign promises that President Muhammadu Buhari, his party, All Progressives Congress (APC) and the President’s handlers have denied they ever made, but the promise to fight insurgency is one that no one can deny.
Boko Haram has put Nigeria on the global map for acts of terrorism and become famous as one of the world’s deadliest terrorists groups after series of deadly attacks including the one against the UN Building in Abuja in August 2011 where nearly 18 persons died.
An attack on June 16, 2011 at the Headquarters of Nigeria Police was a sign of what to come in years later in Abuja and other cities. Boko Haram effectively took control of territories in Borno State, and with a promise of expansion to other states.
Then came President Buhari on May 29, 2015 whom many Nigerians had viewed as the liberator of the oppressed and the depressed. In his inaugural speech, he made good his promise by ordering the relocation of the Nigerian Command Control Centre from Abuja to Maiduguri.
“The Command Centre will be relocated to Maiduguri and remain there until Boko Haram is completely subdued,” the President declared amidst cheer of Nigerians.
It is three years now since the President has declared war against insurgency, but opinions are diverse on the performance of the President in providing security for Nigerians. Many have criticised him for failing to end insurgency, despite claims that the terrorists group has been decimated. The President is also being criticised failing to arrest the menace of murderous herdsmen and others security challenges in the country. However, there are groups of Nigeria who believe the President has delivered on his promise concerning security.
Has the President delivered on his promise of fighting insurgency or not?
EARLY VICTORY AGAINST BOKO HARAM
It is tempting albeit dicey too, to arrive at a definite answer as to whether or not President Buhari has truly delivered on this his electoral campaign promise, or whether the President can totally claim glory for any success recorded against the insurgents in the North East.
But it is fair to him, that more than his predecessor, he has decimated the Boko Haram terrorists particularly in the year that followed in his inauguration.
It was not until almost three months that the President appointed his Service Chiefs whom he handed a three-month ultimatum to defeat Boko Haram insurgents.
Apart from tasking them to rout out the insurgents, he also charged them to ensure that armed banditry, kidnapping, and other forms of criminality are phased out within this period.
Prior to this period, jihadists were already gaining upper hand carrying out attacks freely in places like Abuja, Kaduna, Kano and Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
The terrorists were restricted afterwards to Sambisa forest while spate of explosions in those states went down. It is however, unclear if Abubakar Shekau, leader of the group is dead or alive. More than five times government announced his death, he resurfaced each time in a video and an attacked later.
In retrospect, the military early success against the terrorists was manifesting in February 2015, quite before Buhari’s election.
It was due largely to the arrival of T-72 tanks in the theatre and assistance by Chadian troops which mounted pressure on Boko Haram terrorists. Again, mercenaries also fought alongside Nigerian troops in the first and second quarters of 2015.
While over 20 attacks were carried out by the terrorists in January 2015 in Borno State, 19 attacks were recorded in February of the same year.
By May 2015, there was no attack recorded or carried out by the terrorists while only seven and four each were recorded in April, June and July respectively in Borno, Yobe and Plateau states as well as in Chad.
In all, a total of 67 attacks by Boko Haram were recorded in 2015 with just eight of them taken place post May 29. Whereas in 2014, Boko Haram attacked only 39 times.
Obviously, it is from these feats that the President and indeed his government drew inspiration to inform the world that the terrorists were technically defeated − there were no attacks in May, June, September and December 2015. On the eve of Christmas in 2015, President Buhari declared that Nigeria has technically won the war against Boko Haram
LOSING GRIPS OF SUCCESS RECORDED
Boko Haram resumed attacks in January 2016 after going under the previous year, according to Wikipedia with no attack in the month of August, September, October and December with the exception of November when there was a blast in Yola at night tore through a marketplace, killing 32 people and wounding 80 others.
In 2016 alone, Boko Haram carried out 79 attacks across the North East and neighboring countries. It was during one of those attacks in November 2016 that Lt. Col. Abu Ali one of the Nigerian Army’s youngest and finest soldiers waging war against Boko Haram was killed by the insurgents. The gallant Ali was killed on his way to reinforce troops at a place called Mallam Fatori where Boko Haram terrorists had ambushed the troops.
While in 2017, the tide off attacks by insurgents rose to 103− three lecturers of University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) who were part of the Federal Government oil exploration team at the Lake Chad Basins were abducted in July of that year. This was preceded by the abduction of 10 wives of officers of Nigeria Police in June.
Between January and March 2018, 35 attacks were recorded with 18 of such recorded in January and abduction of Dapchi girls in the same month, with just six attacks recorded in March. In spite of the increased onslaught by the terrorists, Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff said April 2018 that Boko Haram remains decimated.
CHIBOK GIRLS RESCUED− DAPCHI GIRLS TOO
Till date, the release of abducted Chibok Secondary School girls by the terrorists remains a key achievement of the Buhari’s administration war against terrorism.
“We cannot claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents,” Buhari said in his inaugural speech.
This singular pronouncement earned him kind words from even the oppositions and many disenchanted Nigerians who felt let down about the handling of the simmering security crises in the region, particularly the abduction of the Chibok girls by the then administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
In 2014, Boko Haram insurgents kidnapped 276 girls from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno state.
Of the 276, 163 are now free: 57 fled in the early days after their abduction, three escaped later, and a Swiss-coached mediation secured 103. Twenty-one of the 103 were freed on October 13, 2016, while the remaining 82 were freed on May 6 2017.
Though there are speculations that the Federal Government paid the terrorists to secure the release of the girls to the tune of €3million, or that some Boko Haram prisoners were swapped for the girls to be released, what matter was the rescue of the girls which from the outset looked impossible particularly with was believed to be the lukewarm approach of the previous administration to their release.
The government again consolidated on this when in March 21, 2018 it secured the release of 76 of the 110 abducted by a splinter group of Boko Haram from Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State on February 19, 2018.
The abducted girls spent a month and two days in captivity of Boko Haram before government’s negotiation with the insurgents precipitated into a cease-fire agreement and then a release of the girls. Five of the girls could not be accounted for, Leah Sharibu, one of the girls is still with the terrorists, because, she allegedly declined to renounce Christianity and embrace Islam, the condition under which other girls were said to have been released.
UNIMAID LECTURERS, POLICE WIVES FREED
One hundred and ninety seven days after they were kidnapped by Boko Haram, three lecturers of University of Maiduguri regained their freedom.
The lecturers were part of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) oil exploration team on an assignment in the Lake Chad Basin area when they were abducted by Boko Haram members.
The lecturers were released alongside 10 women police officers abducted on October 14 , 2017 by the terrorists.
Their release was facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
According to a statement by the ICRC, the operation in north-east Nigeria, with the ICRC acting as a neutral intermediary, was carried out at the request of the parties to the ongoing armed conflict.
HERDSMEN, BANDITS, KIDNAPPERS ON THE PROWL
If the Federal Government scores itself high in reducing the menace of Boko Haram terrorists, it has failed in addressing the marauding herdsmen and killer armed bandits who made states like Benue, Zamfara and Kaduna inhabitable for citizens.
Indeed, whatever left of the successes recorded by the Buhari administration in its war against terrorism, is currently being eroded by its inability to rise to the challenge of killer herdsmen, kidnappers and armed bandits.
Despite daily onslaught on defenseless people, killing, destroying their properties and farm land, President Buhari has declined categorizing them as terrorists even when he did declare the IPOB movement a terrorists group.
In four years− between February 2013 and December 2017, the herdsmen carried out 47 deadly attacks in Benue State alone.
Most recent horrifying of these attacks were the New Year eve 2017 attack in six communities leaving over 70 people dead and the killing of two Catholic Priests and 19 parishioners on April 24, 2018 in Ayar-Mbalom, a community in Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State.
Between March 13 and May 6, 2018, not fewer than 84 persons, including 11 men of the Nigerian Army have been killed by unidentified gunmen who have turned the local government area to a killing field.
While they have continued to wreak havoc in Kaduna, Zamfara State has also become their killing field. In March 2018, more than 30 persons were buried in Bawan Daji village of Anka Local Government Area of Zamfara State, following an attack by gunmen on the village.
On April 12, 2018, 20 people were killed yet by bandits who attacked two villages in Anka Local Government Area of Zamfara. Yet, kidnapping is unabated across the country while armed robbery is equally taking place in broad day light. Recent robbery in Offa, Kwara State where about 19 people including police officers were killed and about five commercial banks robbed was an example.