When President Muhammadu Buhari was seeking election in 2015, he hinged his campaign promises on three cardinal points — economy, security, and anti-corruption. Buhari promised “change” from a low to a bubbling economy; to tackle insecurity that bedevilled ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s government, particularly Boko Haram insurgency; and a revamp of the anti-corruption war to expose and treat as appropriate, those who are believed and proven to have plundered Nigeria’s wealth.
Each of the sectors has had its ups and down. Four years down the line, we take a look at the security challenges that plagued the country during Buhari’s first term.
BOKO HARAM: The bombs never stopped
Several times, the military claimed to have technically defeated the Boko Haram insurgents who have held sway in the northern region since 2009. However, many states, particularly Borno and Yobe, recorded incidents of attacks that left thousands dead and millions displaced.
In fact, under Buhari’s watch, a repeat of the abduction of the Chibok girls happened in Yobe when a section of the insurgent sect attacked Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, kidnapping 110 students from their hostel. The government has been able to secure the release of 104 girls, five are reported to have died while one is still in captivity. Over 100 of the Chibok schoolgirls are still unaccounted for.
Lending weight to the government’s claim that Boko Haram had been defeated, the president has repeatedly said no local government in Borno is occupied by the insurgents as against 17 when he assumed office but in December, Abubakar Elkanemi, shehu of Borno, said the people of the state were still under Boko Haram siege.
The armed forces have also suffered causalities in the war. Just last week, the group released videos of some military men believed to have been captured on the battlefront in the north-east.
While the federal government and security agencies were still grappling with the Boko Haram insurgency, the clashes between herdsmen and farmers witnessed a rebirth in states such as Benue, Kaduna, Ekiti, Taraba, among others.
Relief Web described the crisis as “six times deadlier in 2018 than Boko Haram’s insurgency.”
The resurgence of the conflict gave birth to a national debate on the adoption of ranching or cattle colonies as a means to curb the menace.
In April 2018, the National Economic Council (NEC) proposed the adoption of ranching in Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Kaduna, and Plateau states. The state governors, however, reacted differently to the proposal. Some argued that they had no land to give for ranching.
KIDNAPPING AND BANDITRY
Kidnapping activities have always existed but never has it, arguably, been this rampant in the country’s history, with a new era of banditry also emerging across many states in the country.
No one seems to be spared from the hands of the culprits. TheCable had reported how the fear of kidnappers have caused the elite to abandoned their cars and roads and took to the rail station for fear of getting abducted, especially on the Abuja-Kaduna expressway.
Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, the board chairman of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), and his daughter and dozens of other travellers were kidnapped on that route in April.
In May, Yinka Adegbehingbe, a professor at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, was abducted near Ikire on the Ife-Ibadan expressway.
Also caught in the rumble is Musa Umar, the district head of Daura in Katsina state and father of Fatima Musa, wife of Mohammed Abubakar, Buhari’s aide de camp (ADC), who was kidnapped on May 1.
WHAT THE FIGURES SAY
Available statistics from different sources show a decline in Boko Haram activities even though the sect still poses a serious threat to the lives and property of people in the northern region.
According to a 2019 report by Relief Web, the number of attacks and casualties have declined since 2015.
“One notable shift is the steep and steady decline in reported fatalities associated with the group, even as the number of attacks has fluctuated. There were more than 11,500 reported fatalities by the group in 2015, the deadliest year. By 2018 that number had fallen to approximately 2,700 reported fatalities,” the report read.
“Related to this trend is the decline in the lethality of Boko Haram’s violence. The group’s lethality has been on the decline since 2015, when the average number of reported fatalities per attack reached nearly 19; in 2018, the average lethality of each violent event involving Boko Haram was just under 5 reported fatalities.
“Despite fluctuations in the group’s overall level of activity, its pattern of violence has remained remarkably consistent. Since 2014, about 40% of the group’s activities have been violence against civilians, 8% have been remote violence, and 52% have been battles, a distribution that has remained generally constant.”
The report linked elections to a surge in the activities of the sect.
“Boko Haram’s most active and lethal period was in the lead up to the March 2015 elections. In February 2015 alone, there were 110 violent events associated with the group, resulting in nearly 2,700 reported fatalities. There has been a similar surge in the group’s activities ahead of the February 2019 elections. In January 2019, there were 73 violent events involving the group and 406 associated reported fatalities.
“Shifts like these highlight how the group’s activities are related to political developments in the country.”
Nigeria Security Tracker (NST) also showed that the number of attacks and casualty figure has reduced since 2015.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) in December 2018 said over 1,300 people were killed and 300,000 displaced within the first half of the year as a result of clashes between herders and farmers in five states–Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, Adamawa and Taraba states.
The International Crisis Group in its September 2017 report, estimates 2,500 deaths in herder-farmer conflicts in 2016, adding that “yet to date, response to the crisis at both the federal and state levels has been poor”.
“Over the past five years, thousands have been killed; precise tallies are unavailable, but a survey of open source reports suggests fatalities may have reached an annual average of more than 2,000 from 2011 to 2016, for some years exceeding the toll from the Boko Haram insurgency. Tens of thousands have been forcibly displaced, with properties, crops and livestock worth billions of naira destroyed, at great cost to local and state economies,” the report reads.
The crisis also had a daring effect on the economy, as the World Bank cut back on Nigeria’s growth forecast for 2018.
Mohammed Adamu, acting inspector-general of police, had said that over 685 persons were kidnapped across the country between January and April, 2019, and at least 1,071 persons lost their lives in crime-related cases in the first quarter of the year.
Despite the high level of insecurity in the country, the president has continued to assure Nigerians that his government is atop its game in ensuring the safety of lives and properties of the citizens.