The year 2020 will be remembered as the year the Nigerian Army recorded its greatest onslaught so far against the evils of banditry, insurgency and terrorism in Nigeria.
This year has seen the Nigerian Army tackling all forms of insecurity in the almost all the geopolitical zones in the country with tangible and verifiable results!
The previous year, 2019 had not been a bad year for the military as it killed and flushed out Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists from most parts of the Northeast Nigeria which saw them fleeing to neighbouring African countries like Chad, Cameroon and Niger and made it possible for elections to be conducted successfully in all parts of the country including Borno which had high rates of security challenges.
But as internally displaced persons returned to their communities and the military was trying to consolidate on gains of the previous year so that complete normalcy would return, some of the terrorists who had fled from the superior fire power of the Nigerian Army and settled in Chad rose against the Chadian government and killed over 100 of President Idris Derby Itno’s special squad.
The killing saw the Chadian government moving against the terrorists, killing quite a number of them which forced many of them to run back to Nigeria.
The Nigerian military detected that the return of the insurgents was going to pose fresh security challenges for Nigeria and it quickly took action.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai offered to lead the operation that would check this challenge and flush the terrorists out of Nigeria for good and offered to relocate to Borno State to lead the troops from the front.
Some of the Chadian escapees who ran with their weapons by then have started showing signs of desperation due to hunger and had started raiding communities and killing innocent villagers to feed and dispossess them of their property.
But the relocation of the Chief of Army Staff to the theatre of war stopped all that as it introduced new strategies in the fight against insurgency and the Nigerian Army is sustained operations made it impossible for the insurgents to operate.
In one of such incidents, the Nigerian Army stationed in Damasak, Mobbar Local Government Area of Borno State, repelled attacks by Boko Haram insurgents who swarmed the area at about 2:30 pm.
The insurgents had arrived in about 13 gun trucks and one gulf car and attempted to attack the military location from different angles by trying to envelope their camp, but soldiers countered them and the insurgents took to their heels.
Within the period, the Nigerian military also penetrated the fortresses of the insurgents and brought many down on their knees.
The military killed hundreds of terrorists in different locations in Kwalaram, Ngilewa, Sabon Tumbu, Bukarmairam, Wulgo in the Marte and Gamboru Ngala and in Gorgi, Damboa local government and in Buni Gari all in Borno State.
The Army also overran the camps of the terrorists in places like Durfada, Allafha, Timbuktu, Bulajibi and Gonikurmi near the Sambisa forest which led to surrender of the 11 of the ISWAP members.
Attempts to attack Maiduguri were twice repelled by the army and also in Damboa, Banki, and Madagali and other places with heavy casualties on the side of the insurgents.
Within two months of Butatai relocating to the Northeast, the military neutralised about 2,000 of the Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists while many were seriously wounded or arrested.
But as the military was pummeling the Northeast, the insurgents who could not bear the heat on them ran to the Northwest and Northcentral parts of the country to continue their criminal acts.
This agains drew the attention of Lt. General Buratai who by then had gone to submit reports of the success of the operation he was leading in the Northeast to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The new challenges posed by the worsening security situation in the Northwest states of Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara and Kaduna, moving up to the Northcentral state of Niger, again compelled the Army Chief to personally move there.
By then the Northwest was becoming notorious for the rate of killings and abductions on a daily basis where entire villages are sacked by bandits, houses were being torched and valuables forcefully taken away.
On a particular day, the terrorists attacked several communities in Katsina and Sokoto States and killed hundreds of people.
In response, the Chief of Army of Staff, On the 6th of July 2020, as part of activities marking the Army Day, flagged off Operation SAHEL SANITY in Katsina State.
The operation was to complement Operation HADARIN DAJI in stemming the tides of the activities of armed banditry, cattle rustling , kidnapping, incessant killings and other crimes in the North-West zone of the country and before the end of July, the gallant troops of Operation SAHEL SANITY carried out series of clearance operations, ambushes and other aggressive and confidence building patrols within Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara States which led to the rescue of kidnapped victims, recovery of rustled cattles, arrest of suspected armed bandits, arrest of bandits informants and collaborators.
The troops also recovered large cache of arms and ammunition as well as motorcycles and other bandits logistics.
In less than a month, troops of the Operation SAHEL SANITY eliminated armed bandits, recovered 943 cows, 633 sheep/rams recovered; 33 suspected bandits arrested; 7 AK47 Riffles, 1 GPMG and 16 Dane guns captured.
The troops also rescued 17 kidnapped victims and arrested 14 bandits informants and collaborators and also penetrated several bandits’ camps including the notorious Dangote Triangle and destroyed their logistics bases.
The Army also mounted sentry in areas hitherto occupied by bandits making it impossible for them to regroup or launch fresh attacks.
Within a month of launching the operation, the people of the North-West Zone began to have sighs of relief as thousands of people that ran away from their communities after bandit attacks, began to return.
But last week was the icing on the cake when the army rescued 342 boys who were abducted at a secondary school in Kankara, Katsina State without casualty.
The operation was so successful that many have called to commend the Nigerian Army for bravery and efficiency. The year 2020 is indeed a great one for the Nigerian Army and its proactive leadership.
Matthew is an author and public affairs analyst based in the United Kingdom.
Buhari: The General On The Verge Of Defeat By Bandits, Terrorists – By Abel Augustine
Appreciating Ibrahim’s Compassionate Leadership At NYSC – By Philip Agbese
One of Africa’s globally celebrated novelist and erudite scholar, Chinua Achebe spewed this timeless maxim in one of his novels; “The man of the people is not about Harvard or Cambridge degrees; but the man that speaks and understands the language of the people.” Achebe’s wisdom sparkles with a timeless relevance in leadership on the African continent and Nigeria today, just like yesterday when the words were uttered.
The Director-General (DG) National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim has indubitably discerned and applied the wisdom of Chinua Achebe wherever he has rendered service to his country. His admirable philosophy resonates in the extra premium he attaches to the people he serves. The NYSC boss is synonymous with selfless service and the development of others, a leadership trait, which hardly shadows in most Nigerian leaders.
Ibrahim, a pioneer Registrar of the Nigerian Army University, Biu is a famed Military historian, scholar, administrator, pragmatist, teacher, pacesetter, innovator and workaholic. He knows his leadership destination and how to excellently navigate his path to success. Ibrahim is a perfect example of one of Nigeria’s genuine and committed leaders.
When the ideal marksman for a job is located, it is easy to notice. Since Shuaibu Ibrahim, the Nasarawa state-born Army General sauntered on stage at NYSC headquarters Abuja, the shining ambience of performance has been inescapable and a cynosure of all eyes.
For the NYSC boss, his current assignment is merely the return to a familiar turf, having served as a Military Assistant (MA) to a former Director-General of the scheme years back. It implies, he has a vast knowledge and experience of the internal operations of the scheme, which has been converted to a rewarding leadership asset for the discharge of formidable service to young Nigerian graduates.
From North to South and from Sokoto to Bayelsa, NYSC members ululate in unanimous tongues their endearing delights and joys with Ibrahim’s persona in his barely two years leadership of the scheme. For the Nigerian youth corps members, Ibrahim is one unforgettable and outstanding administrator of the NYSC.
And like in the catchy aphorism of Achebe; the NYSC boss understands and speaks the language of the people. He does not dispense it from the prisms of bossiness; but the people are excited because he shadows in a unique servant-leader style for the present and future prosperity of the Nigerian youths.
The NYSC DG’s personage embodies a humane, kind-hearted, compassionate, loving and generous personality to a fault. He has a palpable and enduring affection for progress and development of the Nigerian youths. Barely weeks after his appointment in 2019, Brigadier Gen. Ibrahim’s instincts and passion for work manifested. He paid a surprise working visit to the NYSC’s Sagamu Permanent Orientation Camp, in Ogun state in the wee hours of the morning.
The NYSC boss inspected facilities at the camp to ensure they were up to a standard that can guarantee at least minimal comfort for corpers. He gave fatherly counsel on discipline and obedience to constituted authorities to the 2019 Batch B Stream One. But what amazed corp members most in the early morning visit by the NYSC boss was that he gifted various groups of the corps members with memorably fanciful gifts.
Ibrahim, a doctoral degree holder in history and a resourceful military researcher of repute is not a friend to failure. So, he launched a vigorous campaign to terminate the reign of temporary orientation camps for NYSC members as soon as he assumed office. He frowned at the subsisting practice of some states which have converted schools into camps.
Therefore, as part of his focus on welfare of corpers, he engaged State Governors still operating in temporary sites to build permanent, and standard NYSC Orientation Camps. Excitingly, the tide has started changing very rapidly, with NYSC permanent camps in almost 32 states of the federation now. In tandem with these campaigns, several states in the country with dilapidated structures in their Permanent Orientation Camps have had them renovated with upgraded facilities for the comfort of NYSC members.
Ibrahim has his mind fixated in attracting extra stipends for Corp members from all the states of the federation to complement what is uniformly paid all corpers by the Federal Government. He has worked assiduously to ensure; every State Government generally pays a token to corpers posted on national assignments in their respective states as incentive for the national service to fatherland.
And to smoothen the path, domesticate and deepen the campaigns, Gen. Ibrahim has persuaded and lured some Governors to crusade for better welfare for youth Corp members. The strategy is working rewardingly, as excited corpers in states that have complied endlessly glorify the NYSC boss.
Gen. Ibrahim is seen by by corpers and Nigerians as one NYSC DG, who immediately implemented a new Federal Government approved allowance for corps members, which stood at N30,000. But he also, magnanimously added an additional N3,000 on the FGN’s approved N30,000 per corper.
These welfare initiatives by Ibrahim are to provide an elaborate window for prudent serving corpers to save part of their allowances, which they could invest into productive ventures after the one-year mandatory service. It’s a very commendable philosophy and the best way of expressing fondness to secure the growth and development of young Nigerian graduates.
Also intricately linked to the welfare of serving NYSC members, Ibrahim has prioritized the security of corpers wherever they are posted in Nigeria for primary assignment. The NYSC boss is mindful of the pervading insecurities in some parts of the country and has adopted water-tight security strategies and administrative protection measures for corpers.
In Borno, like in other states, where insecurity as induced by Boko Haram insurgency is prevalent, the DG has given a standing order that no corper should be posted to volatile or potentially risky areas. He has sustained an evergreen collaboration with security agencies to ensure the safety, security of lives and property of corps members are neither threatened nor comprised in any circumstance.
To this end, the NYSC DG is very strict against night journeys by corpers and has consistently persuaded the sick to always report to the authorities for prompt medical attention by the handy Corps Medical Personnel of the scheme. He is also passionate about protection of female corpers from exploitation while serving the nation under the scheme. He has never failed to warn female corp members not to compromise their dignity and womanhood for gratifications and has contrived secret ways to monitor such blackmails which leads to abuses of the womenfolk either by NYSC staff or employers of corpers.
When the Coronavirus pandemic broke out in Nigeria and caused nationwide panic, Brigedier Gen. Ibrahim immediately swung into action to protect the beloved graduate children of Nigerians entrusted in his care. After a prolonged closure of NYSC camps; but the necessity to reopen them in order not to stagnate the future of Nigerian graduate youths, Gen. Ibrahim did the needful to secure the lives of the youths entrusted in his hands.
He immediately secured all NYSC orientation camps throughout the country by putting in place essential measures endorsed by the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) to prevent Covid-19 from invading the camps. He traversed the country on surprise visits to ensure its implementation.
Instantly, NCDC officials were deployed to NYSC camps for testing of prospective corp members and the officials before admission into the orientation camps. Hand sanitizers and reduction in the number of admitted corpers for each stream of the orientation exercise; spacing of hostel beds in consonance with the prescribed physical distancing regulation, compulsory use of facemasks and all other ancillary protocols of Covid-19 were strictly enforced.
Undeniably, Gen. Ibrahim is demonstrating to youths of Nigeria a kind of special fatherly love, which those who passed through the scheme before now never had the luxury of the experience. Nigerian youth corp members are convinced and indeed, sing eulogies of the DG for a rare exhibition of leadership, which they have admitted as close to their hearts.
The NYSC DG speaks to corpers in a language they have clearly decoded. Only a few leaders in the ilk of Ibrahim are prodded to speak the language of the people in Nigeria. What has remained unique in Gen. Ibrahim’s leadership style is his mastery and implementation of the techniques capable of changing the life fortunes of Nigerian young graduates within a year of his encounter with them under the scheme.
Agbese is a human rights activist based in the United Kingdom.
COVID-19 And NPHCDA’s Rescue Mission – By Philip Agbese
At last, salvation from the asphyxiation of the COVID-19 pandemic for Nigeria looks very certain now. Like the popular idiomatic cliché, there is now light at the end of the tunnel. A bright hope and reality of the total freedom from the sickening torments of the global coronavirus pandemic on Nigerians stares in the face and patiently waiting to proclaim its victory.
Soon and very soon, the COVID-19 induced deaths; agonizing days and months of illness and treatment of victims and the lonely burial of beloved ones like recluses will be forgotten. In the nearest future, the multiple public social restrictions would begin to gradually ebb out of life’s boring routines imposed by the epidemic in Nigeria, like elsewhere.
Nigeria has subscribed to COVAX vaccines, which is spearheaded and co-led by Gavi, the vaccine alliance, and the World Health Organization, (WHO), with UNICEF as an implementing partner. It is free globally and Nigeria is not an exception.
On March 2, 2021, the Nigerian Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari took delivery of 3.94 million doses in the first batch of the global scheme, COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX), developed by the University of Oxford and drugmaker AstraZeneca. Nigeria is only the third African nation to receive the COVAX vaccines for the inoculation of her populations against global contagion.
Interestingly, the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has tested, certified and approved it for use by Nigerians. Worldwide, the newly developed COVID-19 vaccines are in short supply.
But the battle against the disease has started and there is no need to panic anymore. So, in a few months from now, Nigeria would take delivery of 16 million more doses of COVAX vaccines in batches and a projection of inoculating 40% of its population in 2021. Progressively, the figure would add by another 30% by 2022. COVID-19 threats are real in Nigeria, with a frightening confirmed case of 155, 657 and a total of nearly 2,000 deaths nation-wide by the latest official figures.
The onus of national coordination, distribution and inoculation of Nigerians for the COVID-19 falls on the shoulders of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, (NPHCDA). It is an arduous task, no doubt and basically because of the limited dosages of the COVAX vaccines, the estimated population it must cover; the conscious measures required to avoid crowdy platforms which might cause further spread of the disease in the course of distribution and the delicate nature of the vaccines as well as other incidental problems that might arise in the course of the exercise.
It, therefore, requires focus, shrewdness and perceptiveness from the administrative leaders and managers of NPHCDA to successfully discharge the sensitive national assignment. Fortunately, from the outset, its Director, Mr Faisal Shuaib by words and actions has proven to be a brainy administrator, who is competent and perfectly abreast with the briefs and intricacies of the national assignment.
To this end, NPHCDA has adopted multi-layered approaches for the distribution and administration of vaccines. It has launched a self-registration portal online for individuals, who would be processed and notified for the inoculation through the personal data provided by the client. Also, there is the house-to-house electronic registration segment by its staff in preparatory to the vaccine rollout to the target audience.
In essence, the NPHCDA’s boss is conscious to avoid the reality of the maxim, which alludes to creating more problems in the attempts to solve one. Therefore, to avoid crowding by immunization seekers, he has structured the administration of the COVAX vaccines in a manner that guarantees individual and isolated inoculations. The COVID-19 vaccines would be delivered and administered to Nigerians almost at their doorsteps, and also, on a day and time convenient to the recipient.
The agency has also incorporated an elaborate public awareness campaign, including the use of traditional campaign models to penetrate the grassroots. Already, NPHCDA has kick-started explosive media campaigns to impinge the inoculation exercise on the psyche of Nigerians.
Furthermore, Shuaib has ingeniously streamlined and prioritized the category of Nigerians to first have the COVID-19 inoculation. Topmost on the initial and urgent list of focus are healthcare workers.
And there is wisdom in conceding the priority to medical personnel because they are responsible for treating COVID-19 patients and prone to its infection easily in the course of discharging their professional duties. Hence, it is thought that healthcare workers must necessarily be insulated from the threats and their confidence restored to place them on a pedestal to take full control of public health.
In the wisdom of NPHCDA, the next batch of prioritized Nigerians to receive the COVID-19 vaccines are those the agency has recognized as “frontline workers.” It covers the military, police, oil and gas workers, customs workers, and strategic leaders. These are people whose jobs expose them to contact with multitudes daily.
Quite sensitively, the preservation of the COVAX vaccines to sustain their potency and effectiveness is also very crucial. And so, despite logistics difficulties, the NPHCDA’s boss is distributing the COVID-19 vaccines by air to all states of the federation. However, those devoid of functional airports will have the vaccines delivered from the nearest airport by road, through vans with fitted cold cabins to prevent exposure to heat or extreme temperatures capable of destroying them.
These steps have assured Nigerians of a success story in the administration of the COVID-19 vaccines. Mr Faisal Shuaib has planned the immunization with COVID-19 vaccines excellently. He has set out for the journey and knows how to dodge or avoid the drawbacks to arrive at his destination unhurt, delivering the national assignment fabulously.
Nigerians must support his initiatives for a smooth immunization exercise so that the pandemic can be defeated in the country by all means. Nigeria must be rescued from the grip of the pandemic and, with Shuaib on the frontline, leading the assault, victory is sure and certain.
Agbese is a UK-trained human rights activists and public affairs commentator based in London.
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