The presumption was that General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd), as a candidate for Presidency, with battlefront and war time experience, would be a better fit than former President Jonathan; in handling the insecurity situation of the country. Boko haram had spread its murderous wings and was flying sky high, killing and maiming, like we’ve never seen in this country before. The North East was an abattoir for human slaughter and a war theater, where our soldiers seemed overwhelmed. The abduction of the Chibok girls at the time was probably the nail in the coffin of the Jonathanian era — and it was accepted globally that the war was beyond his depth as commander in chief. The distribution of 2 billion dollars to prayer warriors, which was meant for the armament of the military, was a sad confirmation that the government lacked the political will to fight terror.
A Jonathan apologist posited that the insecurity situation during Jonathan’s administration was limited to the North East; and not so in Buhari’s time. He went ahead to say that in Buhari’s time, the entire country is plagued with insecurity! Can I argue with him on that? Absolutely not! Yes bombs blew up outside the North East, including Kano, Abuja, Bauchi and Kaduna, during Jonathan’s time. But today’s reality, confirms that the spread of the terrorism Nigeria is facing has reached virtually all of the Northern states of the country. Sokoto is in turmoil, Niger has loads of its communities owned and controlled by bandits. Zamfara has long been a den of banditry, with nearby Kebbi also in the fray of their nefarious and blood letting activities. The forests of Kaduna state have bandits camped in them. Kano doesn’t have bandit attacks within the metropolis, but it is reported that their environs are filled with bandits, who have found some kind of communion with the villagers. Bauchi has for long, been Battling with Boko haram around the Burra forests, with recent bandit attacks in Birshi-Miri, and around the suburbs of Toro local government. In the North, only Jigawa and Gombe can be said to be free from Bandit attacks as well as the activities of the Boko Haram sect. Plateau, Taraba and Adamawa have always been flash points of ethno-religious crises, and frequently suffer bloodshed from these clashes. This has been age old.
To be fair to the Buhari administration, is to recognise the recalibration of the military. So many acquisitions were made, in terms of fighter aircraft, atleast 31 in number, as at 2018. Additions have been made after that, including 12 Tucano-A29 jets, 3 JF-17 Thunder-jets, and the present 24 Italian M346 fighter Aircraft. Surveillance and attack drones were also purchased. Quite a number of battle tanks, MWRAPs, and sophisticated guns have been procured, especially the ruthless TAVOR machine gun for the SSS; in a very ambitious armament drive for the security agencies. This has yielded some results as we see reports on a weekly basis, of aerial bombardments of bandit strongholds in the forests of Sokoto, Kaduna, and Zamfara. Quite a number of bandit kingpins have been eliminated, along with their followers in hundreds, in those bombardments. Three successive leaders of ISWAP were also annihilated, along with dozens of their foot soldiers in the North East, numbering hundreds.
If the Buhari administration has been able to decimate the terrorism in the North East, it has unfortunately been overwhelmed by the banditry in the North West. The paradox of it all is that despite the armament of the military in billions of dollars, the war against terror has not been successful, to put it lightly. The gaping hole in all of this, is that our security forces have failed the litmus test of merely securing a 150 km road, stretching from the nation’s capital, to Kaduna state, which is the quintessential capital of the North. Road users in that route have been left to their own fate, as far as security is concerned. The train is no longer safe, as we have witnessed daring attacks on it. It was reported that there was some security Intel as to the imminent attack on the train, but somehow, the perpetrators got away with it. Bandits or Boko haram operated for 3-4 consecutive days on the Abuja Kaduna Road. It couldn’t have missed security Intel that since the North East is no longer fertile for Boko harams terrorist onslaught, they would definitely migrate to greener pastures. Satellite towns in Abuja are no longer safe. Even the University of Abuja was attacked by bandits, with lecturers and their families abducted.
Has the Buhari administration lost the political will to end the terror ravaging the country? Are there saboteurs in our security outfits that give away Intel, or drag back the actions the military or police would have taken to end those infidels? Videos from the Abuja-Kaduna attacks, showed that the bandits killed were kids, which is characteristic of the Boko haram fighters. The North is drenched in blood, Weeping blood, and crying foul. The North has embraced farming and has done well in diversifying the economy with agriculture making up 29% of our GDP — the highest contributor. Bandits are threatening this major economic stride. They put taxes on the poor farmers’ heads and burn down their produce. They have become governments in the bushes of the country. In the city, we have a government, but in the villages, the bandits reign supreme.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.