REFRESHINGLY, Nigeria’s
successful prosecution of the
anti-terrorism campaigns in
the Northeast reverberated
again on the global scene
quite commendably. Recently,
America’s Secretary of State,
Mr. Rex Tillerson mouthed
exceptional appreciation to
Nigeria for its fruitful battles
against Boko Haram insurgency.
Quite impressively, Tillerson
echoed it when assessing the
unabated torment of terrorism
in parts of the globe perpetuated
by the Iranian ISIS. The US scribe
hinted of the sound logic and
wisdom of wars not restricted to
weaponry alone, which Nigeria
has exemplified perfectly.
Tillerson spoke glowingly
about the diversity of counter
anti-terrorism tactics and
strategies in terrorism wars,
which Nigeria has effectively
deployed in its confrontation of
Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs).
The positive results therefrom,
as he admitted, compelled him
to implore nations of the world
under similar threats to emulate
the Nigerian example.
Aside urging coalition on
all fronts from nations in the
assault on world terrorism,
Tillerson pointedly proclaimed
at the meeting of ‘Global
Coalition Working to Defeat ISIS’
comprising 68 countries, which
held in Washington, D.C, thus,
“But let me be clear: we must
fight ISIS online as aggressively
as we would on the ground.”
The US scribe was precisely
navigating the warfare mindset
of the Great Mao Zedong, the
founder of the Peoples Republic of
China and chairman, Communist
Party of China. Zedong believed,
“Weapons are an important factor
in war, but not the decisive one;
it is man and not materials that
counts.”
Narrowing it back home, when
President Muhammedu Buhari
commissioned the Nigerian
military to terminate the reign of
Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria,
many Nigerians thought the time
has come for the might of military
weapons to subdue the menace of
terrorism. Prior to this moment,
when insurgents besmirched
Nigerian troops on the battlefield
of counter-insurgency, Nigerians
decried the sophistry of terrorists’
weapons against Nigerian military.
But President Buhari knew better
that what it takes to win such wars
is beyond the sophistry of weapons
or the raging sounds of boots and
guns. Therefore, an internal search
for competent and courageous
military officers to lead the antiterrorism
battle resulted into his
appointment of General Abayomi
Olonisakin as Chief of Defence
Staff, Lt.Gen. Tukur Yusufu
Buratai, as Chief of Army Staff; Air
Marshal Sadiq Abubakar as Chief
of Air Staff and Vice Admiral
Ibok-Ete Ibass as Chief of Naval
Staff who served as vanguard of
the counter-insurgency war.
The profiles of these seasoned
military officers are on the
fingertips of Nigerians. They
have an untainted reputation as
dexterous, knowledgeable, tactful,
courageous and disciplined
professional soldiers. The manner
they anchored the anti-terrorism
combats have etched not only
his name, but that of Nigeria on
the global map, when nations
commune to discuss strategies of
defeating terrorism in the world.
It is also an established fact that
Boko Haram terrorists group, the
affiliate of ISIS in what the sect calls
its West African Province, remain
one of the deadliest and bloodiest
terrorists sects on the African
continent. But unfortunately, its
origins started in Nigeria. Nigeria
battled with it for years, without
success until President Buhari
emerged on the scene and directed
the Chief of Defence Staff and the
Service Chiefs to lead the battle as
was exemplified in the movement
of the Military Command and
Control Centre from Abuja to
Maiduguri, the epicentre of Boko
Haram insurgency. In particular,
the Nigerian Army started the
campaigns against terrorism with
warfare, but had to initiate series of
tactics and strategies at every stage
of war.
Briefly, these strategies and
tactics resulted in first, the
weakening of the sect members
or operations and when the battle
reached its crescendo, insurgents
were decimated and later, defeated,
for which Nigeria has continued to
earn global recognition. Perhaps,
many may know for the first time
of the adoption of these diverse
strategies by the Nigerian Army’s
hierarchy for the defeat of Boko
Haram terrorists, brought about
the much needed respite and peace
to Nigerians and the sub-region.
It is imperative to note that the
wisdom and experience of the
Nigerian military and in particular,
the Army, in leading a sensitive
and delicate war on terrorism
would realize the various noncombative
dimensions and
requirements of the war to humble
the enemies. When Nigerian troops
consistently dealt fatal blows
to insurgents on the battlefield,
terrorists and the agents as well as
sponsors retreated into disguised
cyber warfare against Nigerians.
They feigned or fabricated online
publications about terrorists’
bloody attacks on military
formations and civilian populations
which were at best a farce.
Terrorism agents also publicised on
social and even traditional media a
fake weapons sophistry and might
of terrorists against Nigerian army
and tales about exploits that existed
only in the realm of imagination of
the terrorists.
The essence was to frighten the
civilian population which was
being rescued and dampen the
morale of troops. But the Army
realised the change of tactics by
the enemies and impressed it on
its troops. Consequently, it devised
the army’s counter-cyber warfare
strategy in tackling the propaganda
of terrorists. The Army’s Directorate
of Information was reinvigorated
and energized. And apart from its
proactive steps in handling such
matters, it deflated the antics and
propaganda of terrorists and
their agents effectively, restoring
the needed confidence in all
stakeholders.
Additionally, in spite of the
seriousness of the anti-terrorism
campaigns, the Army leadership
properly decoded the social
psychology of the war as they
knew that some Boko Haram
foot -soldiers, were forced,
hoodwinked or even charmed
to enlist into the devious
sect. Therefore, the Defence
Headquarters offered them
a window to voluntarily
renounce membership of Boko
Haram sect, by offering the Safe
Corridor initiative.
Scores of Boko Haram
members submitted themselves
to soldiers, without a gunshot
in the air, a development
which further depleted the
ranks of insurgents. Those who
surrendered were camped into
special centres for re-orientation
or what the military termed
de-radicalization and demilitarization
of their violent
instincts before re-uniting with
the larger society.
And to further choke
terrorists, the military identified
and secured all internal routes
and avenues that supplied
food, arms and ammunitions
to insurgents as well as their
families. Starvation on the
domestic front badly affected
terrorists families and caused
more than a stir. It resulted in
“wives revolt” as they assailed
their terror’ husbands with
faces of starvation, fear of
the unknown and threats to
abandon them if they fail to
renounce terrorism. It caused
dissension in Boko Haram
camps, as some terrorists
revolted against their masters
and further renounced the sect,
preferring to reunite with their
families to live in peace.
Okanga writes from Agila,
Benue State


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