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Change has come to Boko Haram

Boko Haram has been described as the most barbarous and murderous armed group in the world. As at the last count, the insurgent group is…

Boko Haram has been described as the most barbarous and murderous armed group in the world. As at the last count, the insurgent group is said to have killed 15,000 persons since they took up arms against Nigeria in 2009. Boko Haram has no scruples other than mass rape, plunder, murder and hostage-taking. However, gradually, they are meeting their match in the steely resolve of President Muhammadu Buhari to crush them and restore security to Nigeria. 
Restoration of security, in particular the defeat of Boko Haram, has been one of the cardinal promises of Muhammadu Buhari’s fourth and victorious presidential campaign in 2015. Perhaps because he is an “Islamic fundamentalist” and because he has been the “sponsor” of Boko Haram, President Buhari has had some spectacular successes in the fight against the murderous Islamic sect which has terrorised North Eastern Nigeria and had at a point controlled 14 Local Government Areas in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.
Upon his ascendancy, President Buhari took a number of measures in the fight against Boko Haram. First, he took several briefings from the disgraced former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and the former service chiefs. Then in July, 2015, sacked the military top brass, bringing in the brilliant and cool headed General Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin as  Chief of Defence Staff, the no-nonsense, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, as Chief of Army Staff, the humble Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas as Chief of Naval Staff and the workaholic Air Marshal Abubakar Sadiq as Chief of Air Staff.
In a bold but unprecedented move, President Buhari announced during his inaugural speech that the Nigerian Army “command centre will be relocated to Maiduguri and remain until Boko Haram is completely subdued.” Since then the army has scored a string of successes in the war against insurgency; numerous Boko Haram commanders have been killed or captured; thousands of citizens, particularly Boko haram’s favourites – women – have been rescued; hundreds of guns, mortars and vehicles have been seized and lost territory regained.
In a nauseating commentary, one so called public analyst spat that President Buhari’s relocation of the anti-insurgency command centre to Maiduguri was “senseless and reckless and would make Nigeria vulnerable to foreign attack” and I ask, which foreign country will attack Nigeria? Really, there is none, and in any case the relocation of a command centre doesn’t mean that all military assets are being moved to that place. The only country that could have attacked Nigeria was Cameroun and the only cause would have been Bakassi.  Having surrendered Bakassi in the quantity and manner we did, I don’t think we can ever go to war with Cameroun. More importantly, Cameroun has rightly become our ally in the fight against Boko Haram, a common danger to our two countries. It is obvious, we will never go to war with Benin Republic or Niger.
Gradually, the Nigerian Army has recaptured the entire territories hitherto relinquished to Boko Haram. Before Buhari took office last year, Boko Haram had become such a trump card for our previous rulers. Weapons and army barracks were daily lost to advancing insurgents who also smashed checkpoints mounted by our soldiers. Troops were fleeing from the theatre of war, throwing away their arms, changing into civilian clothes and conducting shameful “tactical manoeuvres” on foreign territory.
After a ten-day siege lasting from 18th to 28th March, 2016, the Nigerian Army captured Alargano, the so called spiritual headquarters of Boko Haram. On the way to achieving that feat, the army was able to clear Yajiwa, Joba, Mosa, Ariwuzumari, Missene Sansan and Kagalmari villages. Kala-Balge, another important village on the fringes of the border with Chad was also forcefully returned to Nigeria by our troops. Recall that in the middle of 2014, the army had overrun Gwoza, the headquarters of the Caliphate declared by Boko Haram.
But by far, one of the greatest news reports coming from the Nigerian Army is the capture of a long sought after Boko Haram commander, Khalid Albarnawi, on whose head the United States government had placed $5 million bounty. Albarnawi, once regarded as the second in command to Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, is the leader of the breakaway Ansaru Islamic sect. It is said to be ideologically aligned to al-Qaeda in the Maghreb and had been accused of kidnapping foreigners and organising a daring raid on a Nigerian prison where they freed their detained comrades. Albarnawi had been described by the US as one of Nigeria’s three “specially designated global terrorists.”  The army says it will shortly from now issue full statement regarding the arrest of Albarnawi.
The army also says despite the bizarre video recently released by Abubakar Shekau in which he appeared to surrender while claiming that “for me the end has come”, it will not scale down the frequency or ferocity of its anti-insurgency operations but will fight on until Boko Haram is totally defeated. There are reports that a combination of hunger, loss of men and territory as well as ceaseless bombardments by the Nigerian Army has made the war unprofitable for Boko Haram and many of them are actually running away from the bush and returning to town to live normal lives.
Whatever could be said about President Buhari, his appointment of effective commanders, improved welfare for our troops and working in close cooperation with our neighbours, among others, have helped to break the backbone of Boko Haram and improved security in the north east.
 

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