President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts at addressing the security challenges bedeviling the country started on inauguration day, May 29, 2015. He had promised to deal with the Boko Haram insurgency and other security challenges. In his inaugural speech, President Buhari ordered the armed forces to immediately relocate their command and control centre to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, considered the epicenter of insurgent activities in the northeastern part of the country.
The president further demonstrated his commitment to the campaign promise to check insecurity in the country by going on official visits to Nigeria’s neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger, Cameroun and Benin Republic, to fast track agreements on regional solutions to insecurity in the area. Significantly also, President Buhari changed the leadership of the armed forces, which reinvigorated the fight against the insurgents. This, in addition to the provision of military equipment, is believed to have, in no small measure, contributed to the successes the Nigerian armed forces have recorded in curtailing the activities of insurgents.
President Buhari’s recent announcement that the Boko Haram group has been technically defeated evoked reactions from some analysts, pointing at the ability of some insurgent groups to carry out suicide bombings and attacks in some remote areas in the North-East. However, as is evident in Operation Crackdown, a component of Operation Zaman Lafiya Dole, the Nigerian Armed Forces seem to have gained the upper hand in the counter insurgency operations, now carrying out daily clearance operations with reports of many insurgents killed or apprehended.
Also, territories previously under the control of the insurgents appear to have been liberated by the military’s combined special forces. Many victims, mostly women and children held captivity by the group, have been rescued. Recently, the administration’s counter insurgency efforts were boosted by the rescue of two schoolgirls who were abducted in 2014 by Boko Haram in Chibok, Borno State.
In spite of the work done in tackling the Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East, emerging conflicts in other areas of the country continue to threaten public peace and security in the country. The government, it seems, is obviously grasping with the aggressive resurgence of the farmers and cattle herders’ clashes in many communities across the North-Central states in the country.
Also, another big challenge for the government is the renewed agitation by separatist groups in the southeastern part of the country, like the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB.)
Another clear and present danger to the security of the country is the re-emergence of militancy in the South-South, with Niger Delta Avengers becoming infamous for attacking and blowing up infrastructures in the petroleum downstream sector.
According to Kabir Adamu, a security expert and analyst, there has been a remarkable reduction in the incidents of terror attacks. However, he noted that there had been an increase in other forms of insecurity in the country, such as kidnapping, armed robbery etc.
Kabiru blamed the recent farmers/herders clashes on the inability of government to police the traditional flash points between farmers and herders in the country.
He further stated that the use of military force as a response to different aspects of insecurity is a mistake, arguing that the more the military is used, the chances of other security agencies to strengthen their capacity to provide security is eroded.
Adamu also said the emergence of the Niger Delta Avengers is indicative of a vacuum created by the lack of relevance of former Niger Delta militants who have benefitted from the amnesty programme. He noted that in the past, Niger Delta militants employed kidnapping and detonation of oil installations as methods of attacks, but now, the Avengers use more sophisticated methods.
“The use of deep water explosives is an expertise that can only be acquired by special training; and it is not common. I believe there is a political angle to this struggle,” he said.
The executive secretary of the Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC), Air Commodore Yusuf Anas (retired), also commended the Buhari administration for improving the security situation in the North-East. He, however, said there was the need to safeguard the liberated territories.