It is customary for the military authorities to code-name their operations to suit a particular war or security challenge. For instance, when the United States wanted to deal with the late Thief of Baghdad, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, for his invasion of Kuwait at the turn of 1990, it code-named the offensive as “Operation Desert Storm”.
Lately, especially since the incursion of security challenges into the country like the Boko Haram insurgency in 2009, the Nigerian military lexicon has spewed out all manner of monikers. In the case of the North-east theatre of war, the Nigerian Army, under its Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, came up with “Operation Lafiya Dole”.
Lafiya Dole, when translated into English from Hausa, means Peace by Force. In other words, the military is committed to flushing peace down the throats of the recalcitrant insurgents in that region through the barrels of the gun whether they like it or not. The insurgents have been swallowing the peace against their will and disgorging same, hence the terror war, though degraded, still springs up occasional sorties here and there with fatalities.
When the upper Plateau state began to boil over again with ethno-religious mayhem that dovetailed into cattle-rustling under Baba Kekere as ex-Governor Jonah Jang was fondly referred to during his turbulent tenure (2007 to 2015), the military swung into action and coined “Operation Safe Haven” to guarantee a heaven on earth. There appears to be a relative safety in the axis except occasional skirmishes occurring over farming and grazing.
Attention soon shifted to the Zamfara axis where scorpions were deployed to sting criminal elements with a gargantuan appetite for beef. Cattle-rustling became so rampant in the area that the military came up with “Operation Harbin Kunama” or “Operation Scorpion Sting” when translated from Hausa into English. However, the scorpion’s venom failed to totally annihilate the bandits.
The security challenges in the South and South-east soon provoked the Nigerian Army to come up with perhaps the most bizarre of its operations: “Operation Python Dance I and II”. Operation Python Dance I was restricted to the South-South to contend with pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft, ostensibly, among other heists, whereas Python Dance II was targeted at South-east as a direct response to the mounting security challenges in the region as posed by members of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu (now on the lam) and those fiercely committed to the cause of secession of the South East from Nigeria. They described the military exercise as an unwarranted dance of aggression and a ploy to provoke the illegal organisation into resorting to violence.
At the end of the day and surprisingly, Python Dance II succeeded in dancing the delusional Biafran warmonger far, far away from his fortress.
Then came another bizarre reptilian mantra “Operation Crocodile Smile”. The operation spread to some parts of the South-west to nip the security challenges in the bud.
Coming back to the northern axis of the country, particularly the Zamfara enclave, the army launched a stinging onslaught code-named “Operation Harbin Kunama” or “Operation Scorpion Sting”. The operation was initially targeted at marauding criminals that were rustling cows in different communities and killing herders who resisted them. The nefarious activities soon spread to Katsina state. However, the scorpions stung and stung until they ran out of venom. The army changed their operational tactics and came up with “Operation Sharan Daji” or “Operation Forest Sweep”.
Operation Sharan Daji now involves the air power of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF). The criminals who hitherto were having field days rustling cattle and harvesting innocent people for handsome ransoms in the Zamfara/Katsina axis are being raided ruthlessly and relentlessly. The efforts appear to be yielding positive results.
The latest attempt to drive sanity across our communities and highways stretching from Kaduna/ Abuja to Kogi axis threw up another reptilian mantra code-named “Operation Puff Adder”. This operation, unlike Operation Python Dance I and II, Operation Crocodile Smile, Operation Scorpion Sting, Operation Sharan Daji, etc., is an initiative of the Acting Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu.
This police-induced operation involves other security agencies with the presidential order to deal ruthlessly with bandits and kidnappers. These criminal elements recently took over the Abuja-Kaduna highway and operated without any let or hindrance until the venomous Adder began to puff them out of circulation for now. It is hoped that the Snake would not be charmed out of the highways. It is not known whether the Pythons are still dancing and the Crocs smiling effectively in the south. The federal government must be up and running in ensuring the security of lives and properties of Nigerians. It is its primary responsibility; it is also a sine qua non for peace and socio-economic development of the nation. The way these social vermin are stalking the land as if no one can stop them is so scary. As things stand today in many parts of the country, no one can pound his/her chest like a gorilla while leaving home in the morning and declare that he/she will be back.
The frightening scenario brings me back to the issue of establishment of state police which I have been campaigning for in this column since it is not feasible to license Nigerians to bear arms to defend themselves from these bandits, kidnappers and allied criminals. Arming ourselves would guarantee a balance of terror. Imagine me armed to the hilt with a sub-machine gun and shimmying along Kubwa-Abuja Expressway. Which bandits or kidnappers bearing AK 47 (a rifle that is older than I am) would dare me? None! By the way, the inventor of one of the world’s most popular assault rifles, Alexander Kalashnikov, born in 1919, passed on six years ago. The infernal weapon named AK 47 was introduced in 1947, the AK being Automatic or Avtomat Kalashnikov. It is an irony that the Russian military engineer who created a weapon that has sent countless numbers of people to their early graves lived for so long.
I am pleased to note that many prominent Nigerian leaders, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and some members of the outgoing 8th Senate are singing the same state police tune with me as the kidnapping and armed banditry operations escalate across the country.
It is pleasant to note that the Abuja-Kaduna Highway has been cleared for road trips if the assurance given by the acting IGP Mohammed is anything to hold on to. In the light of this declaration, I want to offer this piece of advice: If you see a Python Dancing, reach for your dancing shoes; if you sight a Croc smiling, smile back even though crocodile smiles, like crocodile tears, can be very deceptive and dangerous. But if you see an Adder Puffing, run for your dear life in the manner that the criminal elements have fled the highway!
Happy Easter celebration to all my Christian brethren! The problem I have with you all out there is that not even a chicken leg will be dropped by my doorstep. Is the situation that bad?