It is evident that the wave of insecurity and terrorism in Nigeria has gone down considerably in recent times but the citizens, particularly those in the northern part, still worry if it is “peace at last”.
In the words of Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS): “Nigeria is winning the war against terrorism. When I remark that we are winning the war on terrorism, I recall the statement of a Chinese General, Sunzu, which says ‘if you know yourself, if you know the enemy; then, you can fight a thousand wars.
“Winning the war starts from in-house, I am aware of the improved capacity of the units, improved capacity of the officers and men, and this is what gives me the confidence that we will excel.
“And as for the operation itself, the nature of insurgency is such that you will continue to have occasional setbacks because you are dealing with people who disguise themselves as civilians,” he said.
Ihejirika said the military had made tremendous achievements in efforts to make the country safe, adding, however, that a lot still had to be done.
Expatiating further on the military operation, the Minister of State for Defence, Mrs Olusola Obada, said efforts to promote the country’s security must necessarily include strategies aimed at ensuring that neighbouring nations were also safe to forestall any spillovers.
Speaking at the ongoing Ministerial Platform in Abuja to showcase the achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan administration in the last two years, she said as part of efforts to ensure the security of neighbouring countries, about 5,000 Nigerian soldiers were serving in various UN peace keeping missions in Africa and other continents.
“The Armed Forces of Nigeria are participating in nine United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions within and outside Africa. About 5,000 officers and men, including military hardware, were deployed to various missions in the period under review.
“In November 2012, 186 personnel were deployed to Guinea Bissau as part of the ECOWAS military intervention force to restore normalcy to the troubled West African country.
“Nigeria still remains an active player in both regional and world peace efforts,” she added.
Mrs. Obada said Nigeria deployed a reinforced infantry battalion to Mali on January 17, following the UN Security Council Resolution 2085, which approved the formation of the Africa-led International Support Mission in Mali.
She said the ministry had carried out repairs and upgrade of the Contingent Owned Equipment (COE) in Darfur, Sudan, while carrying out pre-deployment training for soldiers at the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre in Jaji.
The ministry, she added, had also acquired Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) for the country’s troops in Dafur and Liberia, while producing national cost data for peace support operations.
The minister stressed that the importance of the armed forces’ training could never be over-emphasised, adding that this explained the rationale behind sustained efforts to professionalise, train and re-train the soldiers.
Obada said the military had always been fighting for the country’s unity, peace and oneness.
“The Army is doing its very best as our officers and men are among the very best in the world; there is no doubt about it because they are well-trained and they are on top of their work,” she said.
As part of efforts to curb oil theft and protect oil installations, the minister said the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta was instrumental to the destruction of 3,778 illegal refineries in the area in the last one year.
Mrs. Obada noted that there had been enhanced protection of oil and gas facilities through the increase of air and ground patrols of pipeline networks to deter vandals from carrying out their destructive activities.
“While criminality in the industry has not been completely eliminated, efforts of the JTF had reduced the level of crude oil theft drastically within the period under review.
“One hundred and twenty barges, 878 Cotonou boats, 161 tanker trucks, 178 illegal fuel dumps and 5,238 surface tanks were destroyed by the JTF,” she said.
Moreover, the minister said within the last one year, the task force also destroyed some militant camps at Oron in Akwa Ibom, as well as Ikang and Ferukpakame in Cross River.
Troops, she said, were deployed to mount surveillance on the most critical oil platforms on a 24-hour basis to enhance their security.
In the area of internal security, the minister said following President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration of a state of emergency in three northern states, “Operation BOYANA” was launched to curtail the excesses of the Boko Haram insurgents.
She said the operation had been successful, as the insurgents were dislodged from their strongholds.
Obada said the restoration of normalcy and the operations of the JTF had made Maiduguri and its environs unbearable for the miscreants.
She highlighted some successes achieved in the military operation as the destruction of some Identified Improvised Explosives (IEDS) and their production factories as well as the recovery of large caches of arms, ammunition and explosives.
The minister said the JTF had also monitored and controlled the influx of illegal immigrants into Borno State, while facilitating the repatriation of some aliens.
As part of efforts to promote staff welfare and set the pace for other ministries to follow, the defence ministry had also placed 25, 000 HIV-positive personnel and civilians on retroviral therapy in the last one year.
She said the intervention was carried out under the Ministry of Defence HIV and AIDS Programme.
Mrs. Obada said Nigeria had also strengthened its relations with Japan in the area of defence.
Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Mr Mohammed Adoke (SAN) said 75 terrorism cases were treated in the last two years.
He said 16 of the cases had been concluded with eight convictions, while 35 cases were struck out.
“During the period under review, a total number of 75 cases of terrorism and Boko Haram insurgency were received and prosecuted.
“Sixteen of the cases have been concluded with eight convictions, while 35 were struck out.
“A good number of the terrorism cases were struck out because the accused persons escaped during attacks on prisons in Bauchi and Maiduguri,” he added.
Also speaking on the same platform, the Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, whose ministry oversees the Ministerial Platform, said that the ministry had been able to spur other ministries to attain the development goals of the Jonathan-administration.
He stressed that the ministry’s efforts to redefine the national information framework had strengthened the governance process in Nigeria.
He said the ministry, in consultation with important stakeholders, had in the last two years redesigned the nation’s information strategy, with a view to involving the people in the governance process.
Maku said the Ministerial Platform and the National Good Governance Tour (NGGT) were products of the new approach to information dissemination about governance in the country.
“In the last two years, we have redefined the mandate of the Ministry of Information. It is to lead the management of the image and reputation of the people and government of Nigeria through a professional and dynamic public information system that facilitates access by citizens and the global community to credible and timely information about Nigeria.
“The ministerial platform, this is the second edition, has shown clearly that in this country, we can do things differently; and by designing this platform, I believe that we have started something that will be difficult to be stopped by any government in the future.
“Now, companies are saying that they will like to advertise on the platform because they want to reach audiences and because of the level of participation.
“We will consider the proposal in the next edition of the ministerial platform; we will introduce private sector adverts,” he said.
Observers laud the defence and information ministries for their feats in the nation-building efforts but they urge them to strive harder in efforts to transform Nigeria into one of the developed countries of the world.