By Okanga Agila
The first Premier of Northern Nigeria, the Sarduana of Sokoto, late Sir Ahmadu Bello is a figure whose memories endearingly galvanize all forces, especially in Northern Nigeria. A sage and foresighted leader, Ahmadu Bello symbolizes many ideals to the generations after him.
The Late Sardauna believed absolutely in the peace, unity and the indivisibility of Nigeria. His notion of leadership was one which rendered itself unrestrictedly to the service of his country, the poor and the downtrodden. Even in death his ideas and philosophies have continued to nourish the pillars of leadership and development.
The Sardauna’s legacies have remained unsurpassed and his shadows attract veneration anywhere. Progressive minded people emulate his timeless philosophies in work and leadership. It’s a rare prestige for any leader to be celebrated with the image or unfading memories of Sir Ahmadu Bello, whose truthfulness, humility and generosity have remained legendary and evergreen in the memories of Nigerians.
Few days ago, the Nigeria’s COAS and ombudsman of the counter-insurgency operations in the country, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai stepped into the prestigious league of Nigerian leaders who are recognized with the totem of the great Sir Ahmadu Bello.
Precisely on February 9, 2019, conveners of the “Sardauna of Our Time Heroes Award” deemed Gen. Buratai worthy to be doubly honored with an iconic award from one of the foundations of the Sardauna. He was conferred with the prestigious award for “Good Governance and National Security.” To ice his cake of fame, Gen. Buratai was also honoured with a certificate for his outstanding contributions to the peace and security of Nigeria at the same event.
These rare awards which were instituted to commemorate the uncommon legacies of the Late Premier are given to only exemplary, selfless and impactful leaders, who have made indelible imprints on the sands of time in their chosen professions. The conveners only recognize Nigerians who radiate the spirit, wisdom and selflessness of Sir Ahmadu Bello in leadership.
The NAF Conference Centre and Suites, venue of the awards was filled to the brim with eminent Nigerian leaders, who thronged to the event to share in the joy of this uncommon recognition to Gen. Buratai. The Chief of Civil/ Military Affairs, Nigerian Army, Major General US Mohammed represented the ever smiling COAS Gen. Buratai at the event.
However, there was no dull moment, as eulogies poured out in torrents of acknowledgement of Gen. Buratai’s outstanding records in combating terrorism and insurrections in Nigeria. The hall vibrated in general consensus that Gen. Buratai deserved the Sir Ahmadu Bello coveted awards.
The honour to Gen. Buratai streams from his perfect emulation and application of the leadership qualities of Sir Ahmadu Bello. The COAS is perceived by Nigerians as the “Sardauna of our time.” Buratai is both a sage and an intellectual, who has devoted these innate endowments to the service of his people and the nation.
On the streets of Northern Nigeria, especially, the Northeast, where Boko Haram insurgents for years imposed a life of meaninglessness and ennui on the people through its atrocious acts and heinous crimes, Gen, Buratai is celebrated as savior. They heartily cast him in messianic garments. He is fondly celebrated with the Hausa word, “Jan Gwarzo,” which means a hero of consistent and admirable qualities.
Like Sir Ahmadu Bello, who was a hero in political cum traditional leadership of his people, Gen. Buratai replicates the same posture in his leadership of the Nigerian Army and the counter-insurgency operations. The positive results within record time have continued to bring honour to the Nigerian Army from across the world.
The unalterable truth is that Gen. Buratai has remained a hero to both friends and foes. When Boko Haram’s raging fires, consumed Nigeria, threatening the peace and unity of the nation, Gen. Buratai stepped out in defence, when others shirked; he conquered insurgents, where others failed and provided succor to devastated communities, while others mocked them.
Gen. Buratai gave the troubled people in war-torn communities and villages peace and security even at the cost of his life. He personally visited communities and comforted grieving souls with the assurance of a future that will never again be threatened by incendiary insurgents.
The Army boss laid himself as a dependable plank for the people to return to their ruined and deserted villages, farmlands and marketplaces. He conscripted the Army into assisting returnees rebuild destroyed homesteads and provided amenities to ameliorate their pains. He restored confidence to distressed souls and pointed his finger to a brighter future, immune from all molestations.
He made countless sacrifices, deprived himself of all luxuries and pleasures or even the comfort of his personal family to ensure, Nigerians who wept yesterday over the horrendous acts of terrorists and insurrectionists never weep again. These were the ideals exemplified by Sir Ahmadu Bello. He lived it all his life.
Today, Gen. Buratai has brutally stopped the conspiratorial dismemberment of Nigeria by both internal and external forces, through honest and committed leadership of the Nigerian Army. He raised the flag of unity and peace at Nigeria’s darkest hour. He challenged and confronted the antagonistic forces against Nigeria, emerging triumphantly.
This was a vision which defined the silent, but impactful life and times of Sir Ahmadu Bello. Conveners of the “Sardauna of Our Time Heroes Award,” spotted Gen. Buratai as an offshoot of the Sardauna’s principles of leadership and convictions on Nigeria.
Those who met Sir Ahmadu Bello in his hey days, say truthfulness, humility and generosity were the pillars that nurtured his leadership of people. It earned him acceptance and natural followership from his people. Gen. Buratai replicates same even as a professional soldier.
Gen. Buratai’s humility both in office and private life is disarming and assails with passions of love. His colleagues attest that he is not bossy and even when a subordinate performs an official task he assigns to him, Gen. Buratai would still say “thank you,” a rarity in most Nigerian leaders. This is a rare characteristic of a great leader.
And no man can be this humble and truthful without rendering himself to God. Strikingly and like Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Army Chief’s minute devotion to God and the fear of his maker are enviable. It has been his source of strength, protection and rise to stardom.
Those who are not fortunate to have met Sir Ahmadu Bello in person, while he reigned, may need to just read a few books on Gen. Buratai to know that great men don’t die. They live forever because their qualities always manifest or resurrect in form and manner in other leaders timelessly and beyond expectations. Gen. Buratai is yet another exact replica of the great Sir Ahmadu Bello, who radiates his enviable leadership treasures at all times.
Okanga writes from Agila, Benue State.