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Political Boko Haram behind renewed attacks in the NorthEast - - - - Comrade Odeyemi

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Comrade Oladimeji Odeyemi is the President of the National Committee of Yoruba Youth (NCYY). A security expert, Odeyemi is also a member of Global Agenda Against Terrorism and a columnist with African Journal on Terrorism, published in the United States, he recently spoke with a select group of journalists on the State of the Nation.

Recently, a report on the Global Terrorism Index rated Nigeria as the third most terrorized country in the world and we have seen your organization, commending the military on a number of occasions, on its handling of the war against terrorism in the country, how do you relate this report to your position on the war against terrorism in Nigeria?

First and foremost, I will want us to analyze the recent report on the Global Terrorism Index rating, from a holistic point of view. It will be unfair not only to us as the ordinary Nigerians, but also the federal government and our military who have continued to give their best towards ensuring that we rid this country of terrorism. And what am I driving at here? Whosoever that have taken time to go into the details of the report will realize that the country have made a lot of gains in the war against terrorism considering the fact as stated in the report that Nigeria was able to reduce the number of deaths from terrorist attacks by 80 percent. This is not just significant, considering the number of casualties that this country have recorded in terror related incidences over the past 10 years but also signifies the gains that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has continued to record in the war against terrorism. This should also send one important message to the critics of the military operations, particularly the efforts of the Nigerian Army in the North east. Our army have been able to ensure the security of lives and properties more than in the past and lives are now safer than it used to be. This is one area, where I think Nigerians need to know and need media to give an objective reportage of. I am also very certain, that with our ability as a nation to reduce the number of deaths from terrorist attacks, we are coming close to ending other activities of these insurgent elements.

As you can observe, there is a resurgence of the activities of the Boko Haram sect in parts of the Northeast of the country and the past few days have witnessed several attacks in parts of Adamawa and Borno states. What is your assessment of the war against insurgency in the North-east going by these recent happenings?

To start with, for any unbiased person to assess the war against insurgency in Nigeria, you will agree with me that we have made a lot of progress. Remember that it was in the same country that Boko Haram has extended its operations, beyond the frontiers of the Northeast region to the extent that even our federal capital, Abuja, became a Centre of coordinated attacks and everywhere in the country became enveloped with fear. But today, the case is different. Therefore, I can objectively say that there have been several positive records. Meanwhile, as someone who have keenly followed events and have had cause to visit some parts of the insurgency ravaged zone, you will wonder where this recent attacks are being coordinated from. There are so much reasons for one to believe that these attacks are being coordinated outside the territories of our country and we should begin to look beyond seeing this attacks as those from the ordinary terror group, to what I will call, the Political Boko Haram.

You agree with me that the polity is already getting heated up, especially as politicians have began their usual struggle for power towards 2019. And for anyone who have followed the trend since the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari took over, one of its Cardinal focus is to squarely address the issue of Boko Haram terrorism, hence, the commitment that of our Army defeating Boko Haram and recovering our lost territories. It has therefore become a major issue in the political circle and every sane mind knows that this is a strong point of achievement for the Buhari administration. Even though Mr. President has not declared his intention to seek re-election in 2019, those who I describe as the professional politicians are already at work, willing to use every available tool to bring this administration into disrepute and also to destabilise it. Boko Haram therefore becomes a strong tool that they are willing to employ to achieve their plot, realizing that there may be little or no logical campaign point that can be used to defeat the President if at all he chooses to seek a reelection come 2019.

Can we at this point say that the Federal government and the Nigerian Army have lived up to its billings in the war against Boko Haram in that region.

An honest assessment, just like I earlier posited will show anyone how well the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has faired in the war against terrorism. You will agree with me that before this administration came on board, particularly the before the appointment of the current Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, what we witnessed was near daily controversy on the military operations in the region, which practically made a very large part of the region deserted, with people having no trust in the capacity of the Army to protect lives and property against the insurgents. But today, confidence has been rebuilt, the people in droves have returned to their towns and villages. Hence, I believe that the federal government and our army have lived up to expectation.

What major factor, can you really attribute to the rising rate of these ugly incidences of attack on the citizens in those parts of the country?

From my personal point of view and an objective assessment of our group, we see more to these resurging attacks to mere Boko Haram offensives that we used to know. That is why we are urgently calling on the federal government to raise a strong intelligence force within the Army, other security agencies and the citizens so as to Immediately commence identification of those unpatriotic elements who may now want to hide under the banner of Boko Haram to destabilize the country and expose our people, particularly our brothers and sisters in the northeast, to series of renewed attacks for their own selfish political gains.

In your opinion, how do you think the government can engage the citizens or how best do you think Nigerians can assist the military to end the war against insurgency.

All over the world, the citizens play critical roles in the security and safety of any society. Therefore, our government, like we have repeatedly advocated, must critically engage the Civil society and a broad spectrum of our society for partnership that will enhance intelligence gathering which is a vital tool in tacking security challenges in any society. I will also want to admonish Nigerians, to see themselves as partner in the Nigerian project by assisting government and security agencies with vital information that can expose the terror elements and their sponsors, many of whom live among us, as citizens.

Do you consider our government as doing enough, in motivating the security agencies for the purpose of intelligent gathering, welfare and other necessary requirements to tackle the menace of terrorism?

On this, I believe the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari deserves our accolades for taking us out of the messy situations of the past, where members of our armed forces were almost joining industrial actions just because government was not giving priority to their welfare. There is no doubt that there is fundamental difference between the Nigerian Army of the past and the incumbent. The priority given to welfare has improved professionalism of our army as we can see under Lt. General Tukur Buratai, who is the Chief of Army Staff. We now have an Army leadership that leads the Army from the front as Nigerians have seen them demonstrated on several occasions. Today, we have an Army that is making the welfare of our men who are sacrificing on the field, a priority. Today, we no longer hear stories of diversion of funds meant for equipment and machinery being converted into personal usage. I think the Army deserves commendation on this.