Though during his recent visit to Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, President Muhammadu Buhari made a rather ambiguous statement, which some reporters interpreted as Nigeria’s rejection to join the newly formed Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT), he later made it clear during his subsequent visit to Doha, State of Qatar, that Nigeria had indeed joined the military coalition.
Given the unmistakable religious identity of the military alliance, and the longstanding, albeit largely politically motivated, rivalry between the two main religious adherents in Nigeria i.e. Muslims and Christians, President Buhari’s statement has, ever since then, continued to generate controversy over the justifiability or otherwise of Nigeria’s decision to join it.
After all, in Nigeria where political tussling revolves around trivial things that hardly address real issues and ideas, politicians, vested interests and individuals with personal agendas do often exploit and manipulate situations like this in pursuit of their individual and collective interests. For instance, though already settled, the issue of Nigeria’s memberships in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), both based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is, from time to time, still being unnecessarily raised by some politicians and other public figures pursuing some political and other selfish interests.
The unfounded allegations that, by joining the military alliance, President Buhari is undermining Nigeria’s secular status in favour of Muslims, or that he is unnecessarily interpolating Nigeria into the Saudi-Iran rivalry quagmire, and other unfounded worries insinuated by some Nigerian elites and peddled by the gullible, are simply part of such trend of unnecessary politicization of irrelevant and trivial issues for personal interests.
Now, to start with what warranted the formation of the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT) in the first place, it’s pertinent to point out that, though Muslims and Muslim countries suffer the most from nefarious acts of some terrorists who unfortunately happen to be Muslims, also, though they (Muslim countries) are largely individually engaged in wars against the terrorists albeit with various degrees of success, depending on the extent of their respective military capabilities, yet, they are persistently accused, by the international community, of not doing enough to defeat the terrorists. In fact, some of them are even accused of complicity in the persistence of terror activities. While diplomats, officials and leaders of some countries make such accusation indirectly and diplomatically, for obvious reasons, many controversial private but influential individuals make it quite bluntly.
Meanwhile, as the intricate global politics continue to bedevil the supposed global war on terror, which consequently renders it (the war) increasingly ineffective; terrorists continue to perpetrate increasingly organized acts of terror around the world.
This is what basically warranted the formation of this military coalition for Muslim countries to take matters into their own hands, and prove their commitment to take the lead in the fight against international terrorism.
Therefore, as one of the worst affected countries by terrorism, Nigeria shares the fate of the other terror affected countries in different parts of the world. Also notwithstanding the progress it has, so far, made in its fight against the Boko Haram terrorists, it certainly needs to do more in order to be able to eliminate them for good. After all, Nigeria must not settle for anything less than a complete victory, which necessarily entails the complete elimination of the terrorists.
However, for Nigeria to achieve this, it obviously needs to not only significantly increase the tempo, the intensity and the scale of its military operations against the terrorists, but it also needs much more intelligence capabilities and better coordination with friendly regional and international intelligence agencies, especially considering the terrorists’ growing dependence on guerrilla warfare tactics, and their complicated international network of fellow terrorists and sympathizers.
One simply needs to critically look at the current terror-triggered security crisis and threat in Nigeria in the context of the similar situation in the Sahel sub region and its link with international terrorism, on the one hand, and Nigeria’s obviously limited intelligence capabilities, which are though relatively the best in the region, on the other, to realize the imperative of Nigeria participation in this international military coalition, which is made up of the worst terror affected countries, many of which also possess much better military and intelligence capabilities, experience and expertise to share with Nigeria in this regard. It’s also pertinent to note that, Nigeria’s involvement in this alliance doesn’t mean it will send troops to Syria, Yemen, Iraq etc to fight terrorists. After all, when Aljazeera’s Martine Dennis asked President Buhari recently in Doha if Nigeria would send troops to Libya (which is relatively close to Nigeria geographically) to fight terrorism, President Buhari made it clear that Nigeria could only consider this step when Nigeria is ‘approached’ as he stated, which means only when Nigeria is directly threatened. Nigeria, therefore, has a lot to benefit from its participation in this military coalition, which will certainly and greatly help defeat the Boko Haram terrorists for good.