On Monday, September 5, 2022, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, told a joint media briefing in Abuja that the worst of our insecurity woes were over.
He made the declaration in the presence of other senior Federal Government functionaries, such as the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi; Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor. He said the terrorists and bandits would never be allowed to hold sway again, and President Muhammadu Buhari’s order for the military to crush the armed hoodlums “is working”.
Mohammed’s effusions have, understandably, been taken with a pinch of salt. His propaganda-driven style has led to several false alarms and hopes which robbed the Federal Government of public confidence. As early as December 2015, Lai Mohammed had declared the Boko Haram Terrorists, BHTs, “technically defeated” when a surge by our armed forces led to the capture of the terrorists’ “Camp Zairo” base.
Since that declaration, the terrorist threats to Nigeria have multiplied. The Islamic State in West Africa Province, ISWAP, infiltrated factions of the BHT. We now have Ansaru, Bandit Terrorists of the North-West and armed herdsmen terrorists brought in from all parts of the African Sahel. They have been killing, kidnapping for ransom, raping and destroying government and military facilities.
While we note with delight that the military are once again showing valiance and capacity to carry out their constitutional obligations to the country and its citizens, we would not join Mohammed in jumping to early, untenable conclusions.
Though there has been a slight down-tick of insecurity, travellers are still being abducted. The armed herdsmen have not been flushed from the forests and farmlands to allow farmers return to their farms. Many displaced communities are still in refugee camps. Indeed, the terrorists are still invading communities in the North-West, levying taxes, raiding food stores and occupying ungoverned spaces.
We commend the military for responding valiantly to Buhari’s belated decision to go after some sections of the terrorists such as the BHT/ISWAP and Bandit-Terrorists without compromise. We are waiting to see the same action against the armed herdsmen who are still killing, kidnapping and occupying farmlands and forests in the North-Central and Southern zones.
No matter how effective, a partial deployment can never be a solution. It is worse than hate speech because armed hoodlums are being allowed to decimate indigenous unarmed civilian communities, which is a flagrant violation of the Constitution.
It is only when Nigerians can travel the highways, go back to their sacked communities and safely resume farming that we can attest to an improvement in our security. The various indigenous communities should be mobilised to partner with the armed forces, police and other security agencies to ensure that full normalcy is restored.