My friend; a course mate in the University, theatre enthusiast and disciplined Nigerian who is now a captain in the Nigerian Army was in regular touch with me
during the toughest days of the Boko Haram insurgency. Captain Nonso has seen war in its hottest shades, having served in the UN Peace Keeping Forces in Sudan and Pakistan, he returned to Nigeria in 2013 to join the fight against Boko Haram as a special force officer.
Till October 2014, he was filled with bitter complaints and fears. He wasn’t sure the Boko Haram menace will ever be curbed from the Northeast, considering the high level of sabotage, misinformation and unavailability of the right ammunition. He would always decry the reluctance of our allies in the West to supply us the right arms for the battle, and how the little ammunition at their disposal was being diverted, with some of them falling into the hands of the terrorists.
The Boko Haram fighters also had better trained armorers and a higher number of fighters than the Nigerian Army, yet, the Nigerian Army always had the upper hand in battles, except on occasions when the insurgents got information about their strategies and operational movements and ambushed them. Who else would give out such information, if not soldiers and officers who are sympathetic to the Boko Haram sect?
He once told me of situations where the Nigerian Army would lose their Armored Personnel Carriers , or other war machinery only for the terrorists to hijack these equipment and put them into optimal use in frustrating the war against them. Also, the terrorists seemed to have well trained mercenaries from the Central African Republic and the Arab world. He confirmed that most of the strong military equipment used by the terrorists is usually operated by white fellows.
Captain Nonso wedded in July 2013, he returned to the battle front on the 3rd of August, 2013, the first fruit of his marriage came in December of that year, and he has only set his eyes on his family for the first time, since 3rd August, 2013 on the 29th of August 2015. While he missed his family so much and would love to reunite with them, he was more interested in achieving success for the Nigerian nation in the war against terrorism, and ensuring that Nigeria’s territorial integrity is not destroyed. At a time, he was injured in battle and had to be taken to the hospital, but just three days into his admission in the hospital, he was called up to come and lead another fight against the insurgents. He bandaged his wounds and went to war.
Sometime in November, he called to celebrate with me the arrival of better advanced ammunition, the last Nigerian President who procured good arms for the military is President Shehu Shagari, and most of those weapons have become obsolete and could hardly withstand the firing power of the insurgents, but President Goodluck Jonathan after waiting in vain for arms from the USA, UK and other Western countries, resorted to purchasing arms from Czech Republic and Russia, hence, the successful procurement of some modern weapons that gave the insurgents a run for their money.
President Jonathan was not as interested in winning elections as he was in halting the spillage of the blood of innocent Nigerians, for, if he was, he would have allowed the insurgents to continue on their killing spree, which would have stopped elections from holding in those areas. If there was anything President Jonathan was interested in achieving, it was ensuring that every Nigerian got a serious guarantee for their safety.
One of the evidences that Jonathan was actually desperate is the alleged attempt by his administration to buy some weapons from South Africa, which was misunderstood or deliberately misrepresented by some people to appear that he wanted to purchase weapons through the ‘ black market’. I argued then, that if actually the President wanted to patronize the black market to save Nigeria from Boko Haram, then it should earn him much support from Nigerians, because it portrays him as a father who is
While Captain Nonso agrees with me that the ammunition arrived too late, there is no argument over its benefits. The Boko Haram could have overrun the country by now, if the Army continued pushing them with those outdated weapons, produced in 1955, and procured about 1982.
Today, Captain Nonso as an insider, corroborates the conviction among enlightened Nigerians, that Jonathan handed over a Nigeria, almost free of Boko Haram threat to President Buhari, what Buhari needed to do was to simply consolidate on the gains recorded by Jonathan, but he doesn’t seem to have thought in that direction.
There are still caches of ammunition fully paid for by the Goodluck administration that are yet to arrive the Nigerian shores, and it is expected that our new President would have thrown his weight into ensuring that these ammunition berth here, for the safety of Nigeria, instead of this wasteful dispensing of time and resources in probing how these ammunition were purchased. If this probe of how military equipment were purchased by the Jonathan administration is simply targeted at painting the Otuoke educationist in bad light just for political reasons, then, we must not forget that whatever measure we dish out to another will be waiting for us in full.
No one will be President forever, and no President leaves office without some records of achievement, if the individual presently sitting as President, do not want to seethe in pains later, then he must give credit to his predecessor, where he deserves it, and move on. The campaigns are over; political differences should be put on hold for the overall interest of Nigeria’s development.
It will be unfair to fail to acknowledge the sterling achievements of the Goodluck Jonathan presidency in the area of security. Today, sycophants of the incumbent President have brought out the drums to celebrate the retaking of Gamboru Ngala, where our gallant military have successfully hoisted the Nigerian flag after retaking the town from the terrorists, yet, this same people find it difficult to as much as say hello to former President Jonathan who dislodged the Boko Haram insurgents from over thirty six towns across three States of the Federation; a territory believed to be bigger than the size of Belgium. That the arrival of these weapons coincided with the timing of the 2015 general elections further proves that President Jonathan was not just playing politics when he said; “My ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian”. He means it, and he lived it.
No matter how much politics we try to play, we cannot run away from the reality that the worst days are over for Nigeria, as long as the Boko Haram insurgency is concerned. While we shall continue to support the Nigerian government under President Buhari to complete what the former President has already started, it is important to allot credits where they should be.
Nigeria must prevail!
Onwuasoanya FCC Jones