To our gallant Soldiers

by Tahir Ibrahim Tahir Talban Bauchi 

The whole world is fighting corona and the entire human race is enmeshed in a battle with a virus that some believe is a natural affliction and some others believe it’s man made in a lab. Some don’t even believe its existence and see it as a global conspiracy against religion, or a new world order that seeks to use a vaccine to be developed against corona – be used as a 5G tool in chipping humans and controlling human activity and human interaction. President Trump sees corona as a weapon fashioned to destroy his 2nd term ambition by causing an economic shutdown, thereby obliterating his credentials of a viable and strong US economy. His strangulation of chinese international businesses in the US had received wide domestic acclaim and had boosted his support base. Now corona has caused no fewer than 75,000 deaths in the United States, with the world super power seeking a loan of 3 trillion dollars to bail out its economy. Trump is not looking so hip economically. The pandemic is also his personal catastrophy. 

In Nigeria, the story is no different as the fight against the pandemic has caught our people flat footed. We are preached on to stay safe, to stay home, to wash our hands, to maintain social distancing and to wear face masks. It’s a disease that has no cure worldwide and the development of a vaccine is nowhere near sight. The development of a herbal cure in Madagascar has not received world acclaim yet and the World Health Organisation continues to frown against it, and refuses to certify it as a cure or even a remedy. Lives are continually lost daily in the thousands worldwide, and it doesn’t look like there’s anything that’s going to stop this pandemic on its tracks anytime soon. Dr. Anthony Stephen Fauci, who is the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US, seems to be second guessing what’s going to happen next. The institute’s theories about the virus appear to change every now and then and the Institute looks turned on its head, in a race to find a cure and end the menace of this pandemic.

However, the fight against this pandemic and the race to stay healthy and able has been a luxury; as there are a few more gallant ones amongst us all, who have neither had the time nor the luxury to entertain the fight against corona. They are the courageous men and women of our armed forces who spend day and night in the battle fields of the Sambisa forest, and the neighbouring towns of the borders between Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Benin and Niger. The Boko Haram war has been brought to the backyard of the Multinational Joint Task Force, MJTF, comprising military units from Chad, Benin, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon, which is headquartered at N’djamena and is mandated to bring an end to the insurgency. Over a span of 10 years, our troops have soldiered on, fought on, protecting our lives and our territories, just the way our doctors and nurses have been at the battlefront, in this war against Covid-19. 

Earlier this year, around March, there was a leaked video of the Operation Lafiya Dole,  where its commander, Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, was seen to have alleged that his troops lacked the Intelligence and weaponry to properly execute their mission, and terminate Boko Haram. The video showed how the insurgents were pummeling the troops with superior fire-power, and the troops seemed helpless in that situation, unless something urgent was done to help their plight, and the predicament of the war against the insurgents. The leak saw to the replacement of the theatre commander, even though it was later alleged that his orderly was the one that leaked the video. 

Not long after this leaked video, the modernisation of the Nigerian Army was underway as it had just received a consignment of armoured vehicles and artillery systems from China. Top of that is the VT-4 Main battle tank, which is one of the most sophisticated battle tanks in the world. Its 125 mm gun can fire armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding-sabot rounds, high explosive anti tank war heads, artillery and guided missiles. The maximum firing range of the anti tank missiles is 5km. It has a 12.7 mm anti aircraft machine gun and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun. Days of the used T-72 Hungarian tanks without spare parts are over. The Nigerian Army has now become well equipped and are gun ready to take the war to the enclaves of the Boko Harams. 

The Chief of Army staff, Lt. Gen. Burutai moved to the theatre of the Operation Lafiya Dole himself, to lead his troops from the front of the war line. We have seen videos of troops dancing and singing, and rejoicing after subduing the insurgents and winning the battles they have had with them in the last one month or more. It definitely looks and sounds a revitalised army. Videos at night show the troops firing their machine guns, having sleepless nights, just as our doctors and nurses continue with their ordeals against the pandemic of Covid-19. 

The Nigerian Airforce has played the most complementary role in the fight against Boko Haram, as air raids have helped in routing out the insurgents from their enclaves. This can be very much said about the recent victory at Difa, in Niger, where fleeing Boko Haram fighters who had launched an attack at a MJTF post, were aerially bombarded by the Airforce – thereby decimating them, bringing an end to there short lived victory. Over 400 insurgents have been killed by the Nigerian Army, since after the raid by the Chadian President, General Idris De’by. The Boko Haramites have always found a safe haven in neighbouring countries’ borders, as they always flee, whenever our army is onto them. This has frustrated the war all the time, and has allowed the insurgents to regroup, re-arm, and make come backs. The army needed a final kill with the insurgents cornered in a location with no way out. This seems to be the situation now and it is only a matter of time God willing, before their end. They have already been singing amnesty but that is just another trap as previous songs of amnesty have only led to a bigger, better Boko Haram. 

The advent of the corona virus has somewhat changed the dynamics surrounding the war against the insurgents. Food, medical supplies, and most importantly weapons have been cut off from them, as the world faces a new monster that knows no religion, no race, and no demographic. No help is coming their way, as there man friday is also battling corona for his life. What better a time to end this farce of a war, and bring the misguided to their knees? The Army Chief has done well by making himself available to his troops, right there at the war front. While we fight our own ‘individual wars’ with corona, we pray for our heroes, our soldiers, and our gallant troops of the Nigerian Army – that their lives and efforts shall never go in vain, and that victory is in their sight, even more closer than the victory against Covid-19.

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