The sustained efforts of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and as well as the political will exhibited by the President Muhammadu Buhari upon the assumption of office in 2015 was primarily responsible for the inroads the Nigeria military attained in the fight against Boko Haram in Nigeria. This was contained in a report by the Centre for International and Strategic Studies (CISS) titled “The Battle Against Terrorism in Nigeria 2013-2018) which was released by CISS in December as part of its annual research work on critical sectors in Nigeria.
The report which was signed by Professor Ahmed Danfulani, stated that the CISS undertook the research with a view to dissecting the trend of insurgency in Nigeria, its dynamics and sophistication of its operations and how the apparent invincibility of the sect have raised fundamental questions not only about military roles on national security but also on governance issues as well as on Nigeria’s corporate existence.
The report revealed that, in spite of the setbacks the Nigeria Military had experienced in the battlefield, the Nigeria Army had made a significant breakthrough in breaking the ranks of Boko Haram fighters from 2015 with the advent of the Muhammadu Buhari Administration.
The report stated that “The Buhari led administration has shown tremendous political will towards protecting lives and properties in Nigeria. The Nigerian Military has engaged the Boko Haram Terrorists in a battle for the soul of Nigeria. In the process, phenomenal successes have been recorded as indicated in the Global Terrorism Index. It is, therefore, sufficing to state that all the remarkable successes recorded by the Nigerian Army under Lt Gen TY Buratai occurred between 2015 to date.”
The five themed report captures the emergence, activities, mode of operation, ideology and the international dimension of Boko Haram. It also focused on the counter-insurgency attempts of the Nigerian military under former President Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammadu Buhari. Emphasis was on Civil-Military relations in Nigerians North East, as well as the response of Buhari led administration in curtailing the Boko Hara threat.
“The state’s response to Boko Haram since 2009 has been characterized by extreme complexity, especially in regards to the relationship between federal, state, and local government levels, and the inevitable institutional tensions between security services – military, police, the State Security Service (SSS), and other governmental agencies – and civil society groups including traditional and religious institutions.”
“The turning point of the Boko Haram insurgency occurred in 2009 after a four-day battle between Nigerian security forces and Boko Haram members in Bauchi, Kano, Yobe, and Borno state, all in northern Nigeria. The confrontation led to the death of over 800 suspected Boko Haram members including its leader Mohammed Yusuf and other high profile supporters of the sect including Alhaji Buji Foi, a former commissioner in Borno State, and Baba Fugu Mohammed, the 72-year-old father-in-law of Yusuf.”
As regards government response to the Boko Haram threat under President Muhammadu Buhari, the report stated that “among his earliest acts in office was to replace the heads of the army, navy, and air force. The new army chief and the commanding officer in charge of operations against Boko Haram both hail from northern Nigeria, and by many accounts they have taken a more proactive approach than their predecessors toward countering the group. For example, they moved the army’s operational headquarters from Abuja to Maiduguri and had deployed more long-range patrols in the region. Experts suggest that the army is now conducting more strategically-focused operations, such as those that target Boko Haram’s logistics routes.”
According to the report, morale within the army has improved under the new leadership, and suitable conditions for the safe return of the more than two million people displaced by Boko Haram’s violence has been ongoing since 2015.
“The Muhammadu Buhari administration has achieved much when pitched in direct comparison with the efforts of the former regime to manage the insecurity menace in the North Eastern region of the country where the insurgency has thrived over the years.”
This is however in contrast to the defense and foreign affairs report published by the International Strategic Studies Association. The report blames “corruption among higher-ups in the military high command for the faltering war against Boko Haram, and also that the Nigerian government had completely and comprehensively lost control of the engagement with Boko Haram and could show no instance when the government presently had tactical, theatre, strategic, or information dominance of any aspect of the conflict.”
However, the CISS report counters the position of the ISIS report, which appeared hastily put together due to some factual inaccuracies and illogical conclusions noticed in its analysis. This was the case as it is evident that the present government had responded to the overwhelming activities of insurgency through soliciting international assistance to get rid of the domestic terrorism posed by the sect.
“President Buhari also sought for greater support from other friendly nations to combat the challenges posed by the sect and also calling for the support of developed countries to assist in the area of intelligence gathering on the sect’s movements, training and sources of arms and ammunition.”
The CISS report further stated that President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda against corruption has ultimately resulted in more transparency and accountability in the persecution of the War against the Boko Haram Insurgency.
“The administration started by replacing the upper echelon of the military, investigated the misappropriation of security funds by 300 companies, military officers and security personnel and even individuals connected to corrupt practices during the former administration. This “crackdown” encouraged the US to offer military aid to the country amid reluctance due to fears of human right abuses and widespread mismanagement of the Jonathan administration.
“In a bid to strengthen trust and transparency in executing the War against terrorism between the military and the general public, the command center of Operation Lafiya Dole conducts a media briefing on the progress and setbacks of the operation.”
A top security officer who pleaded anonymity stated that ISIS report might have been a sponsored work done by some sympathizers of the terrorist network to smear the image of President Muhammadu Buhari and by extension the service chief so it can lose the international appeal it has garnered since 2015.
“Interestingly, we know where the report emanated from. For a start, the supposed organization is not based in Nigeria and could not have been privy to the details it claimed in its report. And you cannot use days to research and produce a report, as evident in the report that was supposedly released in 28th December and was quoting an incident that happened the previous day, 27th of December” the source stated.
Another top military source who didn’t want his name in print gave credence to the report by The Centre for International and Strategic Studies (CISS). He stated that though there are a few noticeable lapses, in the long run, the report conveyed facts in a most professional manner worthy of commendation.