Babajide Otitoju: Why the silence whenever Nigeria is winning?
By Lanre Oteniya
When Chadian forces led by their president, Idris Derby Itno, launched an operation which resulted in the death of over 1000 ISWAP terrorists, media analyst, Babajide Otitoju was among those who were upbeat drumming it into the ears of everyone what a ‘great feat’ the Chadians had recorded by that action.
Otitoju while analysing the development in one of the ‘Journalists Round Table’ programme, spoke of Derby as a war hero who he said had done 90 percent of the work that needed to uproot ISWAP and Boko Haram for good on the surface of the earth.
One would be forgiven to assume from the way Otitoju sounded, that he knew the exact number of the Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists that are remaining for him to conclude that Derby Itno had done 90 percent of the work required.
Other fair minded observers of the war against insurgency in the Lake Chad region had pointed out to Otitoju even then, that his claims cannot be factual as Nigerian troops have done far more than what he was ascribing to the Chadians.
A particular commentator had stated that given the magnitude of the problem, the challenge on the Nigerian soil, given its asymmetric nature was far more than what could be handled in a single operation but was optimistic that given the leadership of the Nigerian army, the terrorists would be defeated.
He encouraged Otitoju and others who prefer to take the glory of the war against insurgency to other lands while mocking Nigerian troops, to however be prepared to be fair enough to give due credit to the Nigerian military like they were doing to the Chadians when this happens.
Not long after that, the prediction came to pass as the Nigerian Armed Forces stepped up its game when the chief of army staff, Lt. Gen.TY Buratai moved to the theaters of operation to lead the assault on the insurgents.
Within the the first week of his relocation, Nigerian troops launched an attack on Boko Haram fortresses and killed no less than a hundred of them in what has become the precursor to the pressure the military would mount on the terrorists.
In March, during an operation that was carried out in Gorgi, Damboa local government of Borno state more than 100 Boko Haram insurgents were killed and one of their top commanders was also liquidated.
Not stopping at that, In April, Nigerian troops also killed 105 insurgents in confrontation at a town called Buni Gari with remnants of Boko Haram and ISWA that attempted to infiltrate the village.
Nigerian troops also captured five AK-47 rifles, three GPMG, one Duska anti-aircraft gun, one PKT gun, two handheld radio, while one terrorists’ gun truck was destroyed and several ammunition and ammunition links, two hand grenades, two magazines with ammunition and assorted hard drugs were also captured in that operation.
Not done with that, Nigerian troops in their renewed vigour on the first day of this month, launched the Operation Kantana Jimlan, where 78 members of ISWAP and 56 Boko Haram members were killed.
Nigerian troops also arrested 28 informants of the groups and recovered lots of ammunition from them.
In that operation on the Timbuktu Triangle and another artillery engagement in Buk, Damboa LG of Borno State, Nigerian troops killed134 number of Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists.
Between March when Buratai relocated to the theater of operation and now, Nigerian troops have killed no less 490 of the terrorists
What is more; owing to the heat from the Nigerian troops, Boko Haram leader, Abu Shekau gave an indication that he was considering turning himself in in an act of surrender.
But with all the feat recorded against the insurgents by Nigerian troops, our vibrant and observant analyste have gone silent.
The tap from which they showered encomiuoms on troops of other countries seem to have run dry.
Otitoju was nowhere to be found when he was needed most. He has become like the misguided football hooligan who hails teams of other countries but goes silent when that of his country is doing wonders.
But perhaps noticing this bias in reportage foreign media agencies have been upbeat on reporting the gallantry of the Nigerian troops.
A French journal on African intelligence had even gone beyond reporting what the troops have achieved to revealing the level of preparation for the task ahead.
It reported that the Nigerian Army is engaged in negotiations to purchase Chinese rotary wing AVIC AV500 drone to be able to carry out ISR missions at medium altitude, carry out strikes and stay airborne for nine hours while at it.
This will definitely accelerate the almost completed liquidation of the terrorists.
All these efforts are however lost on Otitoju an his ilk who seem to be upbeat only when Nigerian troops encounter defeat or some foreign countries record distant and uncoordinated break in the war.
The truth is, Nigerian troops have even before now been doing very well in the fight against terrorism and insurgency.
Nigeria has been the leader on many counter insurgency operations across the continent including the multinational joint task force currently fighting in the Lake Chad region.
For more than four years since the coming of the current administration, the terrorists have not found it easy operating on Nigerian soil as they have been under heat from Nigerian troops.
Due to the heat, they run to take cover in neighbouring African countries like Niger, Chad and Cameroun
Nigeria has been able to up the game and degraded the terrorists and have been able to penetrate the base of the insurgents at Sambisa Forest, took out a great number of them and destroyed their armoury and established a base at Camp Zero.
Nigerian troops have also retaken captured military bases in Bama, Monguno and Gwoza as well as recapture territories captured by the terrorists including the 20 local government that came under the authority of the terrorists.
They have also put a stop to the activities of the terrorists in Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna and Abuja, confining them to few communities along the Lake Chad.
Nigerian troops have put the terrorists in disarray and have made it impossible for them tto launch attacks on communities.
Given all these record of achievements, one would wonder how an objective analyst would fail to commend Nigerian armed forces for its efforts if there’s no deliberate agenda to undermine Nigeria.
At this point there’s the need to caution Otitoju in the words of Samuel Adams, the American statesman, political philosopher, and one of the founding Fathers of the United States, who said there are people who can be termed as void of all regards for their country.
Otitoju should be cautioned not to allow himself drift into that category because the philosopher has only harsh words for those kinds of people.
He said:”There is seldom an Instance of a man guilty of betraying his country, who had not before lost the feeling of moral obligations in his private connections.”
Otitoju and his ilk, who derive pleasure in laughing at and insulting the military when the terrorists attack Nigerian troops but will be silent when the military takes the lead need to have a rethink.
Oteniya, a freelance broadcast journalist wrote this piece from Lagos.