THE Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, ended his two-day official visit to Nigeria on May 3, 2022 with a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at Aso Villa. He had visited victims of terror – the Internally-Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps in Borno State, the epicentre of the Boko Haram jihadist terrorism.
Guterres expressed his optimism that Nigeria is on the verge of winning the Boko Haram war. He commended the Buhari regime for its strategies which have encouraged at least 37,000 BH fighters to surrender and be rehabilitated for eventual reintegration.
Buhari also thanked the UN boss for not allowing the Russian-Ukraine war make him forget Nigeria’s war on terror. We also appreciate Guterres’ visit and the UN’s tireless efforts to give succour to the hapless IDPs, some of whom have spent up to 10 years in the camps.
The UN’s agencies have coordinated humanitarian efforts in the Nigerian North-East for the past 13 years of the Boko Haram conflict. It has also lost many local and international workers to suicide bombing, kidnapping for ransom and outright executions.
The upbeat tone of the chief host and his guest at the official ceremonies, however, did not take into account the truth that, as the Boko Haram war may hopefully be ending, new frontiers of terrorism have been opened elsewhere in the country. Terrorism-fed insecurity is worsening in Nigeria. It is surprising that nothing was mentioned by both sides about this.
This deliberate blind eye may be due to the fact that only openly self-acclaimed jihadists tend to be seen as terrorists. Violent groups committing the same heinous crimes as the bandit- terrorists and armed pastoralist terrorists do are largely condoned. They are also killing, kidnapping, destroying communities, rendering indigenous people as refugees and taking over their communities.
Even after the North-West bandits were declared as terrorists by a competent court, government has failed to deploy the expected dose of kinetic force to crush them.
The pastoralists devastating Southern Kaduna, Benue, Plateau, Niger and other parts of the country are not even in the terrorism reckoning of this administration.
We must see all terrorist groups for what they are and not pick and choose as seems the case now. This is the only way we can devise the appropriate strategy to end terrorism in Nigeria. It is unfortunate that the international community (the UN inclusive) is complicit in this selective appreciation of terrorism in Nigeria.
We believe that a credible new leadership in 2023 will deploy evenly against all terror groups in Nigeria. When that happens, we expect the UN and the international community to give their total support to defeat terrorism in Nigeria.