The Death of Col. Kabiru Salisu and Sundry Matters By A.S.M Jimoh
Nigeria has become a place where a day is not complete unless one or more tragic event happens. It is either a very old man or a police officer rapes a minor; a large amount of money is missing from the government coffer; armed robbers freely robbed a bank; a policeman or an NSCD corps helps blow an oil pipeline. It could also be that some students sleeping in their dormitories are killed; some over 200 girls are kidnapped from a school; MEND blow and shutdown an oil facility; kidnappers take hostage of victims; soldiers or policemen threaten hapless citizens with their weapons; a baby factory is discovered; human remains found in a forest or in buildings and the list goes on. Even if all of these combined happen in a day, the day is still not complete in Nigeria until the deviant BokoHaram or elusive Fulani herdsmen massacre a number of people across the land. This is the Nigeria of today.
The frequency with which these horrific events happen makes us forget in quick succession the terror culture pervading our land. The fact that the shock of the next event always surpasses the previous one is gradually making us to heed President Jonathan advice that terror has come to stay and we should live with it. It has numbed our emotion to horror. The regularity of occurrence and the incompetence of a political class aided by the docility of the citizen do not even allow us to probe into the cause of events.
Before the kidnapping of over 200 girls from a school in Chibok, we already forgot the death of a gallant officer, Col. Salisu Kabiru, killed by same BokoHaram who abducted our girls. Within these two events, many other horrendous incidences occurred, but we quickly forgot and moved on with our lives. Following the death of Col. Salisu, we had an Nigeria Immigration Service recruitment scam which killed over a dozen job seekers. That swiftly dwarfed our earlier noise of the unaccounted 20 billion dollar oil money. The ‘children of anger’ who wanted to keep the deaths afresh in our minds instead of making us to forget were soon rounded up by the SSS. Then came the massacres of people in Zamfara and North Central states of Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa, but we moved on. The Nyanaya bombing happened in which the President pretentiously appeared sober briefly. Then the next day he was either in Kano at a political rally dancing or in Ibadan attending a birthday party of a monarch. It appears the President himself is used to seeing the blood of the citizen, and since his 2015 ambition supersedes all others, including the lives of the citizens, so he does not give a damn. Our prayer for now is that another more heartbreaking event will not occur that would make us forget our over 200 innocent girls still in BokoHaram captivity.
Col. Kabiru Salisu was killed on his way to his base in Gwoza while conveying back some of his troops he had committed to an operation in Chirawa. He was moving in a convoy with one amoured personnel carrier (APC). While the attackers were waiting to ambush, they allowed all other vehicles in the convoy to pass. As the APC approached, the member of the BokoHaram numbering about two hundred emerged from nowhere and rendered it immobile by deflating all its tyres. When he and six other occupants alighted to take cover, the attackers killed them all. The rest of the convoy ran off to the next military station to seek assistance, but no help came because they fear that the attackers were better equipped. Truly, they are better armed. Col. Salisu’s corpse and that of six others remained in the bush until the next midday when they were retrieved, only after the army was certain the BokoHaram attackers had retreated!
How BokoHaram knew that the APC’s tyres were its weakness gives credence to claims that the Bokoharams have collaborators within the army. The design of the APC was by a member of the Nigerian army, modeled after an American type. However, it was poorly designed that it had a history of frequent tyre burst. In fact, Col. Salisu had ordered for better tyres before he died.
Col. Salisu had earlier led an operation on the 3rd of March in which he was overpowered by the BokoHaram superior firepower and lost seventeen of his soldiers. None of the seventeen corpses was recovered. The carcasses of these soldiers and many others remain in the Sambisa forest as I write. He had also escaped an attack in February by the whiskers along Yola-Maiduguri axis. We knew of Col. Salisu’s death because he was a commander. A number of soldiers fighting the BokoHaram had met their death, but they remained unsung.
After the death of Col. Salisu, troops within his command had the feeling of abscondment because an amiable commander committed to the welfare and safety of his troops had been killed. He is described as a true, simple, loving commander committed to the fight against BokoHaram.
However, the fact remain that the BokoHaram sects are more motivated, in the words of Gov. Shettima Mustapha of Borno state, than the army. While the group major firearm remain the Anti-Aircraft weapon (AA) with barrels of ammunition mounted on Hilux pick-up vans, the Nigerian army fighters make do with AK-47 which has only 90 round of ammunition. Soldiers in the frontline say they are fighting a lost battle. Most had wished the situation were reversed where the sect is the Nigerian Army and vise versa.
According to military source, there is no single Anti-Aircraft weapon (AA) nor a gunship necessary for that kind of operation that is available to the Nigerian Army to counter the insurgency. Yet, ten AA bought by the Yar’adua regime lie fallows in the Niger Delta while the Army gunship is made an exclusive security apparatus to the president. The dearth of weapon available to soldiers fighting the BokoHaram insurgency questions the sincerity of the government to winning the war. Also, some officers within the top echelon of the Nigerian army are making blood money from the chaos in the Northeast. The Sambisa forest the army had told so many lies of having destroyed, remain a BokoHaram enclave, which the former dare not go close to. So also are many villages outskirt of Maiduguri.
As earlier mentioned at the beginning of this piece, the deluge of crises facing us today has been made possible by a number of factors. For instance, the BokoHaram rebellion was made to reach this level because of the thinking within the Jonathan administration that the BokoHaram is a movement to stunt his administration. This kind of thinking has led the group to gain ground over the year and carry their madness this far. It is unfortunate that we saddle ourselves with a president who thinks Otueke than think Nigeria. Neither is the situation is helped by a political class that thinks more of elections than citizens’ welfare; a political elite that has divided the citizens along religious and ethnic line. Added to this, we have a so-called civil society so preferential and sectional in its attitude to National issues. Then, a growing population of youth that is more concerned with the English premier league than event in our nation.
For long, the BokoHaram crisis is seen as a Northeast issue. However, it is becoming clearer by the day that the scourge of the BokoHaram would not be borne by the people of the Borno, Yobe and Adamawa alone. It affects all of us directly or indirectly. Like Col. Salisu, he is not from the Northeast, nor from the so-called core North, but from Bassa Local Governmeant Area of Kogi state. Most of the seventeen of his soldiers earlier killed were not from the North. Therefore, the BokoHaram crisis and any other security matter in any part of the nation are national crises. This is why we must start to ask question on how our fighters are motivated. We must begin to question how the security budget is spent. We must begin to seek to verify the figures dole out by the Nigerian Army on the number of insurgents killed. We must ask for a timeline on when the fight against the present insecurity in our land would end. We must also give the government a deadline on when we want to see our daughters and sisters abducted by BokoHaram return home. And we must stop being a passive citizen.
A.S.M Jimoh. (on twitter: @anehi2008)
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
To contact Abusidiqu.com for Article Submission and Advertisement or General inquiry, send a mail to email@example.com