By Suleiman Umaru
Muhammadu Buhari, of the s ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, is not a happy man. The Katsina state born Nigerian President source of unhappiness was based on the fact that despite huge budgetary allocations on the counter –insurgency operations in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe over the last four years, there appears to be a reversal of the gains that had been made over the last four years.
The Katsina state born Nigerian President may have taken it upon himself to make adequate budgetary provisions to the military in order to execute the counter-insurgency war in the north east because of the oath of office which he took on May 29, 2015, and May 29, 2019, which marked the beginning of his second term in office to protect lives and property in the country.
Abubakar Shekau, led Islamic Fundamentalist Group, popular, Boko Haram and Abu Musab al-Barnawi, led Islamic state of West African Province, ISWAP, have shown that they are well groomed in art of terrorist attack that they could easily recover lost ground in the north east, particular, Borno state.
An aggrieved Ahmad Lawan, a Borno state born politician and Senate President, has said that ‘’this is not time for talks but action by the government as people want to see result’’. He is right. He may have been encouraged to speak out because of the attack on Tuesday, February 18, 2020, at Kwarangilim, village in Chibok local government Area of the state. Suspected BokoHaram fighters armed with sophisticated weapons had invade the villaged , forcing the residents to escape to the bush for their own safety since the Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Commander and his soldiers were nowhere around to defend them. The Insurgents were said to have operated in the village for hours shooting and burning houswas before leaving.
At the onset of the counter-insurgency war in 2009, the Multi-national Joint Task Force, MNJTF, set up by the West African countries of Nigeria, Niger and Chad including the Central African country of Cameroon to compliment the efforts of the operation Lafiya Dole in the counter-insurgency war, had only Boko Haram to contend with.
It was not surprising that within the first six months of his assumption of office in 2015, as President and Commander –In-Chief of the Armed Forces, the soldiers under the close watch of Tukur Buratai a Lt. General, and the Chief of Army Staff, liberated virtually all the local government Areas occupied by the Insurgents in Borno, which remains their major target.
Many had expected Buratai and his Commanders in the super military Camps created in the state, to sustain the tempo of the anti-smuggling war in order to finally drive the Insurgents away but they they were said to have relaxed , forcing the Insurgents and their foreign sponsors to re-group and dared the MNJTF and the Nigerian soldiers stationed in the state.
There was news making the rounds in security circles was that Shekau has been killed in one of the battle fields and subsequently replaced by , al-Barnawi, which may have given the soldiers the impression that the counter-insurgency war was as good as having been won. There was also another flier that there was a crack in the leadership of ISWAP, and that al-Barnawi had been deposed.
Unknown to the General Officer Commanding, GOC, the MNJTF, and his Commanders as well as the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, and his Commanders , it was a ploy by the Insurgents , who are well groomed in terrorists operations to divert attention of the soldiers from their activities. They got it right as al-Barnawi, emerged as the leader of the Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP, a splinter group of BokoHaram, which became more deadly because of its link with ISIS of Syria, Iraq and Libya terrorists who supplies arms to them through Mauritania and Niger. The two groups which had a common objective: to conqur and Islamise the country had been pushing hard over the last five years to take over Borno and turn it into a Caliphate state, governed by Islamic Laws, as obtained in Syria, Indosia , Iran and Iraq .
The takeover of some of the local government Councils earlier liberated by the Katsina state born politician and President of Nigeria speaks volume. The situation in the state is so worrisome that Babagana Zulum, the governor had cried out to the President to come to the rescue of the state before it falls in to the waiting hands of the Insurgents. He was said to have also mobilised some of the elders of the state to accompany him to the Presidential Vila , last Year to see the President over the renewed activities of the Insurgency .
Political analysts had expected the emotional outburst of the governor before the President to make the difference in the state by forcing the MNJTF and Operation Lafiya Dole soldiers to intensify the counter –Insurgency war to fully liberate the state and give the people a lease of life.
Between last year and now, that the Borno governor and the elders visited Buhari at the Presidential villa to seek for his intervention to restore normalcy in the state may have have strengthened the resolve of the two terrorist groups, BokoHaram and ISWAP, to intensify their Campaign to take over the entire state as some local governments had already fallen into their hands.
These may have informed why the Insurgents could easily attack military bases and successfully cart away military hardware’s. The most recent of such attacks that had drawn the attention of the public and the international Community was the mindless killing of 30 Civilians in Auno village gate leading into Maiduguri. at Konduga, local government Area.
Eyewitness Account disclosed that that gate is usually locked once it is 5.00Pm, for fear of attack by BokoHaram or ISWAP fighters. Commercial buses and their passengers including other motorists who had arrived after the gate had been locked from Damaturu, were forced to stay at the City gate in the village. They may have been exposed to any Inurgents attack as the soldiers after locking the gate relocates to Maiduguri to have their Comfort with no soldier to man the gate.
The motorist and passengers numbering about 30 at the City gate were exposed to the Insurgents who emerged from nowhere and unleashed mayhem on them. Some of them were said to have been roasted alive while those who were said to have attempted to escape were gunned down. A man with his two wives and six children were said to have been killed by the heartless Insurgents.
Security watchers believe that if soldiers had been stationed at the Auno Village gate, the Insurgents cold not have had the courage to dare the Civilians as they would have met a stiff resistance. On Monday, February 10, 2020, Zulum had visited the village to seething himself but was disappointment at the inability of the soldiers who are sustained with the tax payers money to protect the harmless civilians. Last Even the governor was said to have escaped death as the BokoHaram terrorists had trailed his movement rom Bama to Konduga local government Area on a familiarity visit to assess things penultimate Thurasday opened fire on his convoy.
The attack had occurred after he had visited Bayo, Kwaya kusar, Askira Uba and Gwoza at about 9.00 PM. The attack on the governor was a clear indication of the loose security situation in the state and that the Insurgents appear to be everywhere in Konduga local government, which is a threat to Maiduguri.
The governor had said that etween May 29, 2020 and now, Auno village, described as one of the flashpoint Areas of the notorious Boko Haram and ISWAP groups who are , desperate to enter into Maiduguri City , had been attacked six times.
Given an insight of the efforts that had been made his government to contain the activities of the terrorists in the Auno village, he disclosed that several appeals were made to the Military High Command to re-establish a military base in the village but nothing has come out of it. An aggrieved Zulum had Collaborated critic’s claim that there were no soldiers on ground as the time of the attack at Auno village gate, fueling speculations that that the killing of the 30 Civilians by the suspected BokoHaram fighters was a planned Conspiracy.
The governor may had alluded to this when he said, ‘’ the soldiers on guard at the gate had been withdrawn as at the time the terrorists attacked the harmless civilians’’.The governor who had painted a gory situation of the Damaturu- Maiduguri Highway averred that travellers on that Expressway are on their own once it is 5 PM as the soldiers in-charge of the Auno gate will abandon it and move over to Maiduguri till the next day.
The killing of the 30 Civilians at Auno village by suspected Boko Haram fighters may have forced the governor to throw a challenge to the Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Commander in Maiduguri to establish a new military Camp at the village which is very strategic to Maiduguri if he really wants to encourage the people to return to their homes and live their normal lives again.
Zulum, the Borno state governor who may have assessed fighting strength of both BokoHaram and ISWAP , had said that the government will need an additional 100,000 soldiers to be deployed to the north east to be able to end the long standing insurgency in the region. The governor who could not hide his feelings noted that at present the Army does not have the manpower and the equipment to effectively to deal decisively with the insurgents.
Political Observers believe that the insurgents may be having their way in the recent months in reversing some of the gains that had been made by the Buhari Administration over the last couple of years because of the steady flow of arms from Libya across the Sahara Desert and an alliance with the Islamic state of Syria. The situation is made worse because of the Complaint of poor equipment and low morale by the soldiers, fueling speculations making the rounds why there is sabotage in the Counter-Insurgency war.
Recall that the bottled anger of the people of Borno over the killing at Auno village may have forced a crowd of aggrieved residents in Maiduguri to troop out in their hundreds penultimate Monday, February 10,2020, to boo and jeer at the President who was in the state to Condole the governor and Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai el-Kanemi, shehu of Borno shehu of Borno over the Auno killings but his convoy were met by angry crowd who jeered and booed at him.. They stopped shot at saying that he has failed the nation over his inability to contain the activities of the Insurgents.
Garba Shehu, senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, will not take it. He had appeared on Channels Television where he claimed that t the protest was master-minded by the political Class and beneficiaries of the BokoHaram Insurgency in order to embarrass the President because of his refusal to sack the service Chiefs, believed to have over stayed their welcome. Note that Babagana Munguno, a retired Major General and National Security Adviser, NSA, is from the warn thorn Borno.
Giving an insider information, he had said that the aggrieved politicians had hired over 2,000 men and women to carry out the demonstration , stressing that the President is still ‘’very popular and accepted in the state’’