By Nick Dazang
Shortly after the president, Muhammadu Buhari, finally gave what his administration referred to as “full freedom” to deal with terrorists who have since gone haywire, killing and maiming Nigerians with abandon, the armed forces were galvanized into action. Pronto, they appointed for themselves a new, resolute mantra: ‘Operation Show Terrorists No Mercy’.
In tandem with this turbo-charged inspiration and can-do zealotry, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, promptly effected an elaborate re-organization of his commanders. As if that were not enough, he addressed a conclave of Air Officers Commanding (AOCs) and Air Component Commanders (ACCs) at the Kaduna NAF Base. In the course of his briefing, Air Marshal Amao directed his commanders to “employ maximum force” in the war against terror.
While underscoring the need for effective and optimum deployment of all NAF platforms in the war, the marshal waxed both philosophical and patriotic: “We have a responsibility to secure our nation and give our citizens a sense of hope, trust and belonging. Therefore, we must ensure that we stay ahead of the enemy and envisage his next line of action”.
A week later, and true to his solemn rhetoric, one of the terrorist kingpins, Alhaji Shanono, was last week neutralized along with 18 of his cohorts. The said Shanono and his followers were decimated while holding a meeting at Ukambo village, 131km away from Kaduna town. According to the spokesman of the Nigeria Air Force (NAF), Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, the decimation of the terrorists followed receipt of credible intelligence.
While the Nigeria Air Force deserves to be commended for this feat, it must be acknowledged that in an asymmetrical war, either against terror, kidnapping or insurgency, a lot of success depends on credible and accurate intelligence. This makes sure that the targets being strafed are the correct ones and that collateral damage is minimized, to the barest, as we have seen in the air force’s latest action. And due to the peculiar nature of its assets and precise capabilities, it is ineluctable that the air force will lead in the new, heightened fight against terror. It is after the air force has bombed the many enclaves of the terrorists on a sustained basis, after several sorties, and attenuated them, that the Army can come in with its artillery firepower/armour and finally mop up the terrorists with boots on the ground.
Be that as it may, the ramped-up fight against terror must be predicated on unimpeachable intelligence. Thankfully, pronouncements by prominent government officials such as Governor Nasir El-Rufa’i of Kaduna State and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Idris Wase, indicate strongly that the intelligence services have been doing a stellar job. The way to go therefore is for them to hone up their skills and be unrelenting in providing accurate information as to the disposition and movement of the terrorists.
Apart from the fact that the decimation of the terrorists should be premised on solid and verifiable information, the armed forces must work in concert. Synergy and co-operation must trump service rivalry. Each service should be challenged to bring to bear its unique talent and capabilities on the war on terror. This way, replication or duplication of efforts is eschewed. Precious resources are laser-focused on the war effort. And frail and bloated egos are set aside.
Though the armed forces were accorded “full freedom” to decimate the terrorists in the evening of President Buhari’s tenure, they must realise that theirs is an onerous task. It is a crucial task that must be accomplished and in record time to restore a country already teetering at the brink of failure and imminent collapse. They must realize that theirs is such a crucially important assignment, which successful execution, will restore peace and dignity to Nigerians who have been killed, kidnapped, maimed, physically and indecently assaulted, traumatized and humiliated for no fault of theirs.
A speedy and final decimation of the terrorists will bring healing to our nation. It will bring back prosperity and a nation brimming with happiness. Forlorn and verdant farms, left fallow for several years, will be cultivated once again. There will be food in abundance. Hunger and its pangs will be banished. There will be a surfeit of security. Nigeria will enjoy food security. Nigeria will not be a supplicant. Neither will it be a beggar.
Commercial activities will thrive. Nigerians will be able to commute freely, by day and by night! Nigerians will be able to visit friends and relatives, unhindered and unafraid. Goods will be moved liberally from village to town and from town to town. Conferences, workshops, trade fairs, conventions, congresses, festivals etc will resume, with fanfare and gaiety, thereby boosting tourism and succouring the hotel industry. Our ever irrepressible people will thrive. There will be opportunities and abundant wealth.
Our image, as a country, will automatically be burnished. No longer will we be put in the league of such backwaters or basket cases as Somalia, Yemen or Afghanistan. Above all, a tranquil Nigeria, with its youthful and enterprising population, will be an investors’ delight and destination. Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) will cascade in an avalanche. Our prosperity will be assured.
A secure Nigeria will enable the Independent National Commission (INEC) to deliver superlative elections in 2023 to the glory of our fatherland. So shall the National Population Commission (NPC) conduct an excellent count. Selah. Godspeed to our Armed Forces.
Nick Dazang is a former Director at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).