Consciously or unconsciously, we
become amnesic of the memories of ugly
pasts as we make progress in life. And like
a clergyman once said: for every new level
we ascend, there is a new devil to challenge
– sounds poetic, but beyond the rhythm is
an aphorism that highlights the reality we
face when we have won a battle, so to say.
The focus is to war the “new devil” so that
we can climb to yet another higher realm.
Still, even while we climb to new levels and
struggle with their attendant worries, we
must gaze in retrospect to appreciate our
growth and change in fortune.
Permit me a brief flashback. A couple of
years ago, the forest of Sambisa seemed
as uncharted territory; it was regarded
as a bastion of the terrorist group Boko
Haram, where they recorded boastful and
denigrating videos, where they launched
deadly attacks that degraded security
apparatuses, taking charge of towns and
hoisting their disdainful flags on the soil of
the captured territories – in defiance of the
sovereignty of our great country.
And when came Christmas, it was a time
we became unusually guarded – not for
the sanctity and honour of the celebrations
that come with the season, but for the fear
of guerrilla attacks, car bombs, or suicide
bombers. It was a time when our phones
were flooded with security tips, more than we
received even of the Christmas well-wishing
messages. Broadcasts were disseminated
warning us where to go and where not to go,
indeed popular businesses suffered for this;
others cautioned on the manner in which we
were to judge people – based on their clothing,
their mien or even their beards. Sadly.
Fast-forward to 2016. A different season has
been witnessed this yuletide: peaceful; and
for the socialites and hedonists, fun-filled. The
major highlight of this season was the capture
of the once occupied fortress of Sambisa – larger
than the whole of the Federal Capital Territory,
and perhaps, more than 15 times the size of
Lagos State – by the Nigerian Military from the
Boko Haram Terrorist Sect. Camp Zero was
the last enclave of this vast swath of land to be
captured after period of military advancement
into the notorious Forest.
The military have moved the necessary step
further and are consolidating on this great
victory: they say they would convert the vast
forest into a military training centre and also
a military equipment testing ground; they
have begun constructing new roads to further
this domination; and an intensified mop-up
operation is further underway.
As businesses open up in Borno State, and
the commercial capital of North Eastern Nigeria
inches towards thriving again, the once wartorn
region and economic backwater is headed,
out of war, desolation and destruction, and to
reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation.
Already, roads closed for close to three
years, and more in some instances, have been
reopened for users. The return to absolute
normalcy would take time no doubt; one would
be futilely prophetic to forecast that the wanton
destruction and loss would be rebuilt in ‘3 days’.
Yet, assuredly, it would happen – step after step,
house after house, road after road, school after
school, hospital after hospital.
To boot: the joy savoured from this victory is
not limited to the territory reclaimed, or in the
near defeat of the terrorists, it also flows from
the glory re-established of the Nigerian Military
– known all around the world for their great
valour, resilience, professionalism, and might.
The fall of Sambisa would be one of the greatest
landmarks of the Buhari administration. It is a
promise made, and kept.
Judging by the economic recession that hit
the country, due largely to falling oil prices and
militancy in the Niger Delta, 2016 may not seem
to be the best year for some, but for the worth
of where we are coming from – the sleaze and
corruption that wasted an auspicious economy;
the low morale of a military fighting a war,
coupled with diverted funds meant for the
purchase of weapons; and dwindling revenues
– the positive and sturdy foundations that have
been put in place, the Rice Revolution that has
just begun, the unprecedented Social Investment
Programme of the Buhari Administration, the
massive infrastructural reforms underway, this
Lest we forget
exultant victory of the Nigerian military
and more, has made the year worth it – and
an assurance that we can aspire to a more
victorious and propitious 2017.
The journey has just started. And we must
not be quick to forget the tears we shed in
2015 that were wiped in 2016; the story has
changed for the better. But we hope for the
best.
Yes, lying ahead is the looming fear of
guerrilla and isolated attacks that may be
experienced as the dissipated terrorist group
struggle with their last breathe – this must
be dealt with; more: the resuscitation of the
infrastructural, humanitarian, economic and
social well-being of the region must be done
expeditiously.
Also, the rehabilitation and return to
normal livelihood of about two million
displaced persons in the region is a task
that must be done soonest; the release of
the abducted Chibok Girls who have been
captive for almost a 1,000 days too; indeed,
the task ahead is as onerous as the one we
have done behind.
While these bother and keep us on our
toes, for anything, we must not forget one
event that culminated a hard fought year:
Camp Zero has fallen.

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