The former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai (retd.), says the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has fulfilled his promise of subduing Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa Province terrorists.
Buratai, who made the assertion in an interview with newsmen in Abuja, recalled that the President had in his inaugural address on May 29, 2015, promised to subdue the terrorist groups.
The former COAS, however, explained that it was wrong to think that victory over Boko Haram terrorists meant a total cessation of hostilities.
He said that total cessation of hostilities would happen only when the terrorist groups agree to forsake their ideology, embrace democracy, respect the national constitution and cling to peace.
Buratai said that the President had right from his inauguration, came up with clear-cut strategies to subdue the terrorists and restore peace to the North-East and Nigeria in general.
He recalled Buhari as saying in his inaugural address, “The military command centre will be relocated to Maiduguri and remain until Boko Haram was completely subdued”.
“I say this with every sense of responsibility that the Buhari administration has subdued the Boko Haram insurgency and terrorism.
“As his premier Chief of Army Staff, and as the longest one that served under him for that matter, I think I owe it a duty to Nigerians and the whole world to say it as it is.”
According to him, the president came fully prepared with all the right information about the root causes of the insurgency and terrorism.
Buratai said that the Boko Haram insurgency was allowed to manifest before 2015 by official bungling, negligence, complacency and collusion.
This, he added, made Boko Haram become a terrifying force, taking tens of thousands of lives and capturing several towns and villages, covering swathes of Nigerian sovereign territory.
“This is the true summary of the Boko Haram armed insurrection.
“The murder of Muhammad Yusuf by the police was clearly extrajudicial.
“Negligence, complacency and collusion with the proponents and strategic leaders of the Boko Haram insurgency for selfish reasons, caused the insurgency to degenerate into a full-blown nightmare,” he added.
Buratai recalled that “the President made it clear that there were lapses in the way our police operate.
“Notwithstanding, he also made it clear that the methods used by members of the sect qualified them to be labelled as mindless and godless human beings.
“He told Nigerians and the international community that the terrorists were not true Muslims”.
Buratai promised to reveal the greater details of how the military subdued the terrorists and the parameters to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the assertion, in his memoir.
The former COAS said non-kinetic approaches were necessary to ensure total victory, including the deradicalisation of the terrorists to forsake their ideology, embrace democracy, respect the national constitution and embrace peace.
Buratai quoted a world-renowned scholar on terrorism, Philip H. Gordon, as saying that military victory alone in the war on terror will not end terrorism.
“Gordon went on to further explain in his book that victory in the war against terrorism, means not the complete elimination of any possible terrorist threat.
“Pursuing that goal will almost certainly lead to more terrorism, but rather, the reduction of the risk of terrorism to such a level that it does not significantly affect average citizens’ daily lives, preoccupy their thoughts or provoke an overreaction.
“At that point, even the terrorists will realise their violence is futile.
“Keeping this vision of victory in mind will not only avert considerable pain, expenses and trouble, it will also guide leaders toward the policies that will bring such a total victory about,” he added.
Punch/ Yetunde Oke