By Nkechi Odoma
Framers of the Constitution of nations are like the Biblical three wise men. They belong to the realm of thinkers akin to the ancient and great Greek philosophy kings like Plato and Aristotle among others.
Everywhere in the world, the Constitution, which is the supreme document of all sovereign countries, prescribes the protection of lives and property of the citizenry as a cardinal and foremost responsibility of all governments.
Nigeria as a country has been a potpourri of violent crises and armed conflicts. The excitement of some debased citizens to take up arms against the state or their own country confounds infinitely. And most astonishing is that most times, the violence entrepreneurs and merchants of deaths have no cogent reasons for embarking on the demonic destructions they contrive and execute.
These forces of darkness unashamedly puncture the cord of their own fraternity for inexplicable reasons. In the recent history of African countries, Nigeria has portrayed itself as a nation intrinsically more abused with violence and deaths by its own people and in connivance with foreign allies than any other country on the continent through acts of terrorism and insurrections.
And the onus of restoring peace and security has always rested on the Nigerian military, particularly, the Nigerian Army. It is a heavy burden and sacrifice they make on behalf of the country, considering that some soldiers even pay the supreme price in battles to secure Nigeria.
The portrait of Nigeria is a sad commentary on this self-acclaimed giant of Africa. A roll call of the armed conflicts shuddering Nigeria leaves one gasping for breath.
Some few bad elements in the country have forced Nigerians over the years to contend with Boko Haram, armed banditry and cattle rustling, violent secession campaigns, militancy, farmers/herders skirmishes and communal clashes spurred by resolvable disagreements. There is a retinue of other armed militias who terrorize and torment the people, especially, at electoral seasons. This is in addition to kidnapping for ransom and armed robberies.
Its repeating the obvious to say, Nigeria’s 2019 general elections which have just been concluded appeared pregnable of enmeshing Nigeria into deadly electoral induced violence. It surely would have exploded into unimaginable and controllable violence and killings across the country had solders deviated or reneged on their sacred roles as sentries on election duty.
To say, Nigerians who are masterminds of these devious acts are insane might be too harsh; but unfortunately, it is an appropriate description in this circumstance.
In the years preceding the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the experiences of Nigerians with these wild security threats have been most horrendous. It became more painful and pathetic when the Nigerian military faltered terribly and incredibly in arresting these armed siege on Nigerians.
Meanwhile, the progression of these violent crises consistently brought deaths, pains, agonies and destructions to the people almost every day. The people genuinely lost confidence in the capacity or competence of soldiers to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Nigeria. The public could no longer hold unto to the trust in the Army to defend them against both internal and external aggressions as the last resort. Wailings engulfed the land and the country became a laughing stock in the comity of nations.
The scenario marketed the then leaders of Nigeria and the military as incompetent and insensitive to the afflictions of the people. But joyfully, the Buhari Presidency from its inception vowed never to tolerate the festering armed conflicts in Nigeria. He vowed to end it. The President immediately reorganized the leadership of the Nigerian military and gave them specific assignments and targets.
What has remained a nemesis and nightmare to troubleshooters or promoters of armed conflicts in Nigeria was the emergence of a professional and craggy soldier, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai as COAS and Chief Armour bearer of the counter-insurgency operations. He identified needs of his troops, reoriented soldiers and repositioned the Army to face the assailing challenges of insecurity which nearly crumbled the country.
Looking back at yesterday, millions of Nigerians heaved a sigh of relieve because Gen. Buratai has posted marvelous and positive results in securing Nigeria and berthing the needed peace in war-torn communities. The dedication and hard work of the Chief of Army Staff in personally leading troops to battle insurgents and insurrectionists, in the past three years have rekindled the trust and confidence of Nigerians in the Nigerian Army. The aura of peace and security is felt in unusual places in the country, what was elusive in the immediate past.
And conscionable Nigerians had no option than to appreciate soldiers. The renewed trust and confidence in Nigerian soldiers by the people is further consolidated or deepened with soldiers’ demonstrated proclivity to remain apolitical, neutral and to religiously safeguard Nigeria’s democracy to maturity, insulated from the snares of destroyers.
The few Nigerians who nursed fears that the deployment of the Military on election duty would lead to the compromise of the ballot and rape of democracy are most consoled now. The splendid performance of soldiers throughout the two rounds of the 2019 general elections and the supplementary polls have enforced this feeling.
In fairness and truth, no Nigerian can conveniently claim soldiers on election duty interfered with the electoral process in aiding politicians thwart the popular will of the people or truncate democracy anywhere. Rather pleasantly, Army officers and personnel resisted the temptation of bribes from politicians, to mess up democracy, as emerging facts about the Rivers state instance among others are indicating.
So, the military supersonic outings in enthroning a secured and peaceful Nigeria for voters to perform their civic responsibility have obviated hitherto misplaced fears about soldiers involvement in the electoral process. The Army has made Nigeria proud.
Conclusively, the Army has earned and won the people’s trust; Nigeria’s democracy is now safe with the eagle eyes and alertness of soldiers in starving off anti-democratic forces from disrupting the system and creating unnecessary heat. Gladly again, no Nigerian now nurses the fear of the military actions or engagement into civil matters anywhere, anymore.
Such fears have been replaced with love and fondness, because Nigerians can now retire to night rest in any part of the country with their two eyes closed and in full pleasure of the bliss of peace and security. Gen. Buratai and the Nigerian soldiers deserve more accolades from Nigerians for their messianic roles in the country. And its obvious, such praises would keep coming in torrents. The restored trust and confidence of Nigerians in the Nigerian military, particularly, the Army is the real triumph of soldiers over terrorism and insurrections in the country.
Odoma wrote this piece from Asokoro, Abuja.