By UMAR SA’AD HASSAN –

Those of us familiar with the game of basketball should be fully acquainted with the phrase “Buzzer Beater”. It refers to a basket scored from a shot or action taken just before the buzzer signalling the end of a quarter sounds at 0.00 seconds. The reaction to a game-winning buzzer beater by spectators could practically bring down an arena. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what GEJ seems to have done: beat the buzzer in grand style.

Over the last few weeks, we have witnessed a remarkable reversal of fortune in our war against Boko Haram. We have destroyed camps, confiscated weapons, reclaimed lost territory and stopped further encroachment by the insurgents. The war is not yet won though and I’m glad the commander-in-chief understands the importance of cutting the head off by vowing to arrest Abubakar Shekau, the sect’s leader.

For the president or against him, you just have to admit that this counts as a huge plus to his re-election bid. A lot of people are going to say we don’t need a president who only delivers when pushed to the wall or that all that is being done now could have been done a long time ago. But like I always say, if we could end this war all on our own, then, we wouldn’t be a Third World country. Not a war where chances of sourcing useful and credible intelligence on the insurgents were very low and one where the enemies’ response to our 1970s’ fighter planes was procuring anti-aircraft weapons which they put to effective use.

Before rushing to hasty conclusions, we must take into consideration the refusal of America to sell arms to us, the implications for any of its allies who does, and the desperation and commitment on the part of our government that necessitated the two infamous failed attempts to get “first-aid” help in which private jets traceable to the Nigerian government were busted with huge amounts of dollars in South Africa. We may also consider that maybe our African brothers lent us a helping hand fast because we played “the forthcoming election card”, and the length of time it took to clear bureaucratic obstacles and ship arms from the foreign countries named so far.

Just as it is convenient to resort to the timing of this resurgence in the criticism of the president, the timing of the many shortcomings we have had to contend with is also an important criterion in a thorough and unbiased assessment of the performance of the armed forces so far.

Even if I end up not voting for Jonathan in the forthcoming elections, I must commend his efforts at ending this insurgency. It’s a good thing he came straight and confessed he under-estimated the threat at the beginning. The truth is, even his late predecessor did. He cut the head off and went to sleep. There have been reports of how even agencies in the US under-estimated prior intelligence on the 9/11 attacks. We wouldn’t be doing the man justice if we went at him and absolved who was there at the very beginning of any blame.

We have witnessed a very dramatic run-up to the general elections with both parties trading both intriguing and laughable accusations. The pick of the pack has to be the APC raising the alarm over a plot to arrest Shekau and make him link General Buhari to his sect. We have heard it all.

Recent happenings as regards the war will not only polish GEJ’s dented reputation across the globe, they are sure to convince a lot of Thomases and win him more converts.

— Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano.

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