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War On Insurgency:  Badaru-Abubakar’s Silent Revolution – By Mallam Ahmad Sajoh

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Nigeria seems suffused with so much activity that many have not noticed the recent gains made by the military against insurgents. Giving a breakdown recently, Major-General Edward Buba, Director of Defence Media Operations, said that in the first quarter of 2024, “We have employed significant firepower to neutralise several terrorists and disrupt their activities. Indeed, significant terrorist commanders killed include and are not limited to the following: Abu Bilal Minuki (aka Abubakar Mainok)-Head of Is-Al Furqan Province (ISGS and ISWAP) and Haruna Isiya Boderi,” who was described as “a notorious terrorist who operated along Birnin Gwari forest in Kaduna State as well as the Abuja-Kaduna Highway.”

This decapitation of the operational command of the insurgents also extended to Kachallah Damina, Kachallah Alhaji Dayi, Kachallah Idi (Namaidaro), Kachallah Ubangida, Alhaji Balsu, and fifty otters who terrorised the northwestern part of the country. There have been further victories since then with Damana Hanun Giwa, Ali Kawaje, Yallo Nagashi, Maikusa Katsina, Sai Dangote and others eliminated by the troops, in what had been hailed as a major victory. Between January and March 2024, 2351 terrorists were killed, 2, 308 persons arrested and 1241 kidnap hostages rescued. Significant also is the report that a substantial amount of armoury has been seized from the insurgents, including 2,847 weapons and 58,492 ammunitions.

The military also showcased gains in the battle against bunkers and economic saboteurs resulting in the recovery of millions of stolen crude, diesel, kerosene and petrol.

Given that the current political and military leadership have been in office for less than a year, the results are indeed heartwarming that Nigeria may soon see the back of its insecurity challenges. Credit for this certainly goes to President Bola Tinubu who has, as it were, appointed a focused defence team under the leadership of Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, Minister of Defence. In this position, he doubles as the coordinating Minister for National Security, along with a new crop of service and intelligence chiefs. Badaru-Abubakar has delivered the President’s mandate to the security forces and in a quiet, unobtrusive manner, presided over a turnaround that has delivered results.

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When he and his colleague, the Minister of State, resumed barely eight months ago on August 22 at the Ministry’s headquarters, Badaru told his audience, the top brass of the military at his inaugural meeting with them, that the days of having military campaigns without firm timelines were gone, echoing the concerns of Nigerians in the last few years since the uptick in the insurgency that there must be a clear timeline for getting the few remaining places still troubled by terrorists back to normalcy.

The minister charged the service chiefs to give him a timeline and their requirements to solve Nigeria’s security challenges, stating emphatically, “This timeline and target will be passed on to the president. The president is ready to give us all the needed support to achieve success because he is an achiever and doesn’t have the patience for failure. For the sake of our country, we know that without security, there will be no investment, and without investment, there will be no economic growth.”

He promised to change the narrative and the evidence seems to bear him out. Aside from the provision of equipment and motivation of the troops, it would seem that there is more inter-agency cooperation among the armed forces, a point Buba, the head of the military’s media operations, made in his press statement. According to the Report on Quarterly Review of Joint Task Force Operational Activities, the victories were due to the effective synergy of joint operations of the country’s security assets. According to Buba, they “were achieved through synchronised strikes between ground and air forces on terrorist enclaves.”

The emphasis on joint operations and effective collaboration among the forces is one that Badaru-Abubakar has pushed since he assumed the headship of the Defence portfolio. He reemphasised that point recently at the Air Power Consult Senior Leadership Forum on Emerging Trends and Threats in the Battle Space and their impact on the employment of Airpower.

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According to the Minister, no modern conflict can be successfully prosecuted using only one element of national power, adding that: “In reality and concomitant to this reality is that, in the use of the military element of national power, no single service can hope or expect to successfully overcome the modern hydra-headed complex conflicts. Therefore, we need to move away from paying mere lip service to something as fundamental to our success as a sector as Jointness. We are using it in our training; we must adopt it in our operations. The Ministry of Defence will continue to enhance jointness within the armed forces, building upon the existing collaboration and cooperation that has been a hallmark since the inception of the present administration.”

The new verve he has brought to defence operations bears recalling the essential Badaru-Abubakar. When he was appointed Defence Minister, surely some felt a civilian in that portfolio was a poor choice. Yet, his record on security as the immediate past Governor of Jigawa State is stellar. Though not much known because of his self-effacing demeanour to his public duties, it is important to state that Jigawa, a state in the northwestern region which is challenged by banditry and terrorism, was one of the most peaceful compared to neighbouring states, with negligible reports of bandit activities on account of Governor Badaru-Abubakar’s proactive steps while in office. Badaru has taken that quiet approach to his job, preferring to let the successes speak for his behind-the-scenes leadership where he meets military top brass and other defence allied agencies to draw and follow up plans to achieve the administration’s objective that no section of the country will be held captive by insurgents and bandits.

Nigeria is certainly not out of the woods but the signs are good and encouraging.

Sajoh, writing from Abuja, can be reached at aisajo2@gmail.com

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