While Nigeria still feels the pressure of economic recession, breakthroughs recorded in the fight against terrorism make the outgoing year 2016 a memorable one for the people of Africa’s most populous nation.
Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, as expected entered the year with high expectation and hopes, the same way many citizens did.
The outgoing year has earned Nigeria eternal kudos for tremendous breakthrough and gains on the Boko Haram front.
Ever since the Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Tukur Buratai assumed office in July 2015, the battle against Boko Haram terrorists and all forms of insurgency in the country has gained momentum as the terrorists have been pushed away from places that they had earlier staked as their territory.
At its peak, Boko Haram declared a caliphate in North-east Nigeria. The group once bombed the United Nations and Police Headquarters in Nigeria. The terrorist was responsible for the abduction of Chibok school girls and thousands of children and women from major towns and villages in northeast states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
For the most part of 2016, Boko Haram terrorists have been degraded and chased out of the borders of Nigeria. The group had alleged links to al-Qaeda, but in March 2015, it announced its allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Since the current insurgency started in 2009, it has killed more than 20,000 and displaced 2.3 million from their homes and was ranked as the world’s deadliest terror group by the Global Terrorism Index in 2015.
The Nigerian security forces operating in restive northeast region and their commanders have been celebrating the fall of Sambisa Forest, Boko Haram’s last enclave in the country.
The Sambisa Forest had been used as a fortress by the leader of the Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau and members of the Shura after they were dislodged from Maiduguri and environs, shortly after the declaration of a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
On Dec. 24, President Buhari broke the news of the capture of Boko Haram’s last stronghold in a goodwill message to soldiers of the Operation Lafiya Dole over the victory.
Buhari said he had received the long-awaited and most gratifying news of the final crushing of Boko Haram terrorists in their last enclave in Sambisa Forest.
The president said he was delighted at the news and was most proud of the gallant troops of the Nigerian Army.
The entire country has been thrown to a hysterical moment with the news of this victory.
CHIBOK GIRLS RETURN
On Oct. 13, 21 Chibok girls that were kidnapped by Boko Haram were released, after 913 days in captivity.
The girls were part of more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls held captive since April 2014 by members of the Boko Haram. According to the government, the girls were released after successful negotiations between the sect, the International Committee of the Red Cross as well as the Nigerian and Swiss governments.
With the release of the 21 girls, further negotiations are underway to release an estimated 197 girls still in captivity.
In the past months, Nigerian troops combating Boko Haram terrorists suffered major losses in the Boko Haram war. This year alone, there have been reports of missing troops and deaths of gallant soldiers at battlefronts.
One of the Nigerian Army’s bravest and gallant officers, the Commanding Officer of 272 Task Force Tank Battalion, Lt.-Col. Muhammad Ali was killed in a Boko Haram Ambush on Nov. 4, 2016.
Even the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, could not hold back tears after he died.
Operation LAFIYA DOLE troops carrying out clearance operations on suspected Boko Haram terrorists hideouts were most times ambushed by suspected terrorists.
The Boko Haram militants claimed responsibility for the wanton destruction in the region, with the aim to create Islamic State and prevent western education.
The fight against the destructive Boko Haram insurgents has recorded substantial military and security successes as much territory previously controlled by Boko Haram had been reclaimed.
The collective efforts of the Lake Chad Basin countries in fighting terrorism have resulted in substantial military and security successes.
The Multi-national Joint Task Force (MNJTF) has continued with cross-border operations and reclaimed much of the territory controlled by Boko Haram.
The insurgents continued to carry out asymmetric attacks, mainly targeting civilians, while the destructive activities of the sect had constituted serious threats to regional stability.
The activities of Boko Haram have greatly undermined development and exacerbated the economic hardship in the countries of the Lake Chad Basin.
Property worth about six billion U.S. dollars has been destroyed in Borno state alone in the ongoing war against insurgents in northeastern Nigeria.
A government spokesperson, Isa Gusau, said 956,453 houses were destroyed across the 27 local government areas of Borno state, amounting to 30 percent of the total houses in the state.
“It would take a long time to rebuild the infrastructure of Borno state,” he added. Enditem
Source: Bosun Awoniyi, Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh