By FEMI ADESINA
Who feels it knows it all. Perhaps the region most affected by the insurgency that almost strangulated the country since 2009 is the North East. It was there that Boko Haram started, proliferated, and spread to other parts of the land.
I was in two States in the region early this week, joining President Muhammadu Buhari to take part in campaigns of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the forthcoming general elections.
First port of call was Adamawa on Monday, leaving later in the day for Yobe, where we stayed the night, and spent most part of Tuesday. And what did we hear at every stop? Plaudits, accolades, commendation for the President on the much improved security situation in the region.
There are some people hellbent on giving us a siege mentality of insecurity in the country. They have deliberately refused to look at the brighter side of things, and all you hear from them is ‘worsening insecurity.’ That’s all they say on TV, radio, on social media, in newspapers, from the pulpits, mosques, anywhere, everywhere. They deliberately make it seem that the only thing happening in Nigeria is insecurity, they keep trumpeting it daily, even when confronted by vast improvements. They are soused and marooned in scaremongering.
But who feels it knows it. Ask people in the North East, and they will have stories to tell you, of how their very homes, schools, hospitals, local government headquarters, palaces of emirs, had been seized by insurgents, who were calling the shots from those places. And how a certain battle-tested retired General Buhari came, took the war to the army of occupation, and flushed them out.
One of the most poignant stories we heard during the trip was at the palace of the Emir of Damaturu, Hashimi 11 El Kanemi. Governor Mai Mala Buni recounted how the palace was overrun by insurgents, and everybody ran for dear lives. He told the President:
“Yobe is one of the States you liberated from the clutches of Boko Haram terrorists. Before, in this very Palace, if you placed one billion dollars on the table, and you asked someone to come and pick it, nobody dared come, because insurgents were occupying the place. But your coming onboard has made that history, and the people are now enjoying relative peace.”
The Emir himself said: “We have had bitter experiences in the past, but your administration has unified the country.”
Who feels it knows it all. Ask people of the North East, and they will tell you what the administration of President Buhari has done for them in the area of security. And merchants of ‘worsening insecurity’ will be ashamed, if they would listen.
The truth is that if we hadn’t had a person like Buhari in 2015, Nigeria may have been wiped off the face of the map by now. There was encircling doom and gloom round the country then, and we would all have been done for. But the President led the charge, and pushed the insurgents back, till they are now almost totally extinguished. Extirpated.
It was not an easy war. Yes, the country was at war. And as if that was not terrible enough, other heinous security challenges joined. Banditry, kidnapping, cult killings, cattle rustling, farmers/herders clashes, secessionist bids, and many others. The country became one huge killing field, but the government and our security agencies tackled them all. How much trouble can a government have? The administration was beleaguered, hard-pressed, but it rose to the challenges. Today, though the challenges are not totally eradicated, the security situation is a lot better. And the glory must go to God, while we also appreciate our President and the security agencies.
In Yobe, the President commissioned a number of legacy projects. Damaturu Modern Market. Newly constructed police command headquarters. Yobe State Teaching Hospital. Housing estate. Mega school. And many others. In Yobe State, which used to be the playground of Boko Haram? But they are now flushed out, and the people have regained their lives. Yet, some people sit somewhere, in air conditioned studios and newsrooms, talking of ‘worsening insecurity.’
Hear President Buhari in Yobe: “I thank God Almighty for the great strides and return to peace and security in Yobe State and the Northeast region generally. I recall with agony and sad feelings, when l was here to identify and share the grief and pain of parents, the government, and the people of Yobe when the Dapchi schoolgirls were abducted.
“We promised to rescue them, and they were rescued and returned to their parents except for Leah Sharibu, who was not released by the abductors. Since then, we have continued to work hard for her safe return to her parents. We shall not relent in our efforts to get her back home.
“I also recall with horror what our children went through at the Federal Government College Buni Yadi. That incident and many others left indelible scars on us, and we owe it to them to ensure that peace not only returns and takes a strong hold, but children are able to return to classrooms and schools and learn in the best of conditions. May their gentle souls rest in peace.
“Today, I return to Yobe in honour and memory to all those who have made sacrifices and continue to do so and I am glad that peace is finally back. It is quite fulfilling that we have secured victory after a long battle, fighting the Boko Haram insurgency. Many Nigerians do not seem to understand that a significant part of our country was at war.
“The North East region, has, indeed, suffered enormously and we have seen the devastation and destruction of lives and livelihood that this now ending war has brought upon our people. It is, therefore, crucial to again speak of the resilience that has characterised the people of this region, who stood side by side with this Administration as we jointly faced this ugly monster, and reduced it to its current state.
“I would like to use this opportunity to once again salute our gallant Armed and Security forces for their sacrifices to achieve this victory. I pray for the repose of the souls of those who paid the supreme and ultimate price in the line of duty. Your deaths are not in vain. To the vigilante groups and members of the communities, I recognize and appreciate your courage and resilience in wiping out these terrorist groups from our land and our country.
“The fight against insurgency is finally successful and it is you, the people of Yobe State who can tell the story better. You know where you were coming from, and you know where you are today. Let me reassure Nigerians that we will continue to fight all criminal elements in every part of the country until our last day in office. We remain committed to giving Nigerians peace and security, to protect their lives and property.”
That is the summary of the security situation in not just the North East, but in a large part of the country. The job is not fully done yet, but we will get there, and soon too.
Let those who are cynical remain cynical still. Let those who are skeptical remain skeptical still. And the unbelieving, let them remain unbelieving still. But right before their faces, not long hence, Nigeria will be fully and totally recovered. Where will they then hide their faces?
We thank President Buhari, our security forces, our resolute countrymen and women. Blessed are those who have believed, for there shall be a performance of the things promised them.
Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity