By Abubakar Gana PhD
Indeed these are interesting times in Nigeria. I am sad as well as happy for the revelations regarding the commitment of the Federal Government in the prosecution of the war against terrorism. For far too long, we have been fed with various tales from North-East Nigeria so much so that Nigerians do not know what to believe anymore.
This is indeed sad and an indication that something is wrong somewhere with regards to the actual state of affairs in that region. Being a development researcher with a particular interest in the North-East, I make bold to say that I have transverse the length and breadth of the region on various occasions in the assessment of the true state of affairs.
This piece is informed by a tour organized by the Global Amnesty Watch in the assessment of the efforts of the government in the restoration of normalcy to the once-troubled region. I had mixed feelings over the revelations that came about with the findings from the tour.
Initially, I was sceptical about this assessment tour given that I had previously sojourned the region on the invitation of an international Non-Governmental Organization sometime in 2014. I must, however, admit that it was such a huge risk in the sense that the environment was not convenient with the level of insecurity at that time.
This was also a period when the activities of the Boko Haram group were rife and occasioned with lots of killings and displacement of people in various communities. It was scary, and I must confess that I was fed with lots of misinformation and made to believe that the insurgency would last a minimum of 20 years before the North-East can recover from its effect.
I won’t say that we were deceived by the international NGO that organized the tour, though. Rather, they were brainwashed to believe a narrative and little did we know it was all part of a plot to justify their continued stay in the North-East and to attract more funding for their operations which has been questioned in several quarters.
Just like other researchers that were co-opted into the tour by the international NGO, we didn’t see the handwriting on the wall. We consequently went to town with all sorts of conjectures that suits the narrative of the group in their effort for the continued justification of their stay in the region.
Just like this international NGO misled us into believing that it would take Nigeria at least two decades to rebuild communities in the North-East fully, the same narrative was pushed towards donor agencies and countries. How was this possible? These NGO depicted a very terrible picture of the situation in the zone. Some went as far as organizing chaotic conditions in IDP camps, record and then send to donor partners and agencies.
That is not all. Some of these NGOs also went as far as bribing locals to comment negatively on the efforts of government towards alleviating their plight and protecting them from the Boko Haram scourge. It was that terrible.
However, I must admit that my participation in the tour put together by the Global Amnesty Watch has indeed brought a lot of hard facts to the fore with regards to the actual state of affairs in the North-East.
As a first, I must give credit to President Muhammadu Buhari for his unalloyed display of commitment in the prosecution of the war against Boko Haram insurgency.
The revelations garnered proved that there is indeed a grand conspiracy against Nigeria in its efforts towards addressing the challenges posed by the Boko Haram terrorist group in the North-East.
This tour took us to Bauchi, Gombe and Yobe states. I must add that it was an eye-opener. Nigerians should not believe the propaganda planted in the media as regards the state of affairs in the North-East. I saw things for myself, unlike in the previous tour organized by the NGOs. I was not given video recordings to rely on; I was not given lengthy reports to read. Instead, we were allowed to take pictures and interact freely to form an objective opinion.
We were not under pressure to take a position; rather, we were encouraged to be as objective as possible with a view to putting issues in proper perspective. I must state that indeed tremendous work has taken place in North-East Nigeria after years of devastation by the Boko Haram insurgents.
Aside from the efforts of the Nigerian Military which is essentially addressing the security threats, the government has indeed done all that is required towards rebuilding its economy through the provision of infrastructures and other conditions necessary for the return of normalcy.
It is my considered opinion that Nigerians would come to appreciate President Buhari more with the level of commitment he has displayed. Make no mistake, it takes a leader with a heart for the people to be this committed. It also takes one with an uncommon heart to govern with such passion as displayed by President Buhari.
The revelations from this tour of North-East Nigeria suffices and amongst the reasons why all Nigerians must continue to support this administration. And to think that all of these notable achievements have happened in the space of five years is quite commendable.
We must always give credit to whom it’s due, and it is my honest opinion that President Buhari is passionate about the growth and sustainable development of Nigeria. From my experience in the North-East, I can only imagine what is going on in other parts of the country.
Yes, some might want to argue that the president hasn’t done much; I would understand such positions because we are in an era where there are lots of politically motivated conspiracies against the government in not just tackling insecurity, but other critical sectors of the economy.
The reportage of events in North-East Nigeria is one example. I am glad that at least I can now base my assessment of President Buhari objectively as a result of the first-hand experience and not hearsays, rumours, fairytale reports and propaganda.
It is consequently my firm belief that in the fullness of time, Nigerians would see through the conspiracies and come to appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari. I am glad that the tour is still ongoing and the revelations so far are pleasing as well as reassuring that Nigeria is indeed on a steady path to growth and sustainable development.
At the end of this tour, I firmly believe that more revelations would come to the fore and Nigerians would have no choice but to appreciate and support the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, giving him credit accordingly.
Gana PhD is a conflict resolution expert and wrote from Maiduguri