By Comrade Oladimeji Odeyemi.
It may not have undergone the processes of research, but the maxim that a country’s military is next to her economy is a verifiable fact that needs no research-based evidence, at least in Nigeria.
Across the globe, countries pay significant attention to their military as the last line of defence for survival and peaceful existence. As they say, safety first before anything.
For the Chief of Army Staff of the Nigerian Army, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, a secured Nigeria from the West to East, South and the North is what he apparently sleeps, eat and walk. What a fixated burden!
As Nigeria’s number one soldier, General Buratai takes singular fulfillment in ensuring that his officers and men, especially those in the frontline of war have an unfettered commitment to the cause they are fighting for the country.
Without any prejudice, human beings are naturally forgetful especially when the pains and cries of yesterday are gone. That is why those of us with a mark of recap must not hesitate to compare and contrast. A flashback to the periods between year 2013 to 2015 and how the country was on the brinks with Boko Haram insurgents claiming territories and establishing caliphates is one that should not be left out in the general analysis of war against terror in Nigeria.
A review of that period of Armageddon which lasted till 2015 indicated that the Military commanders then, didn’t understand what they were confronted with, and that gave the Boko Haram fighters the impetus to unleash terror in unimaginable quantum.
From a culture of stealing Military funds, stealing funds meant for procurement of arms and equipment , from a ragtag army with no logistics back-up. General Tukur Buratai simply put himself in the place of his soldiers, feeling their pain as his pain, knowing their needs as his needs — He wasn’t the boss who stayed to far from his troops, he lived among them.
However, left and right, one can see the futile laborious efforts of some ignorant and unpatriotic people aiming to diminish the laudable impacts of the counter-terrorism operations under the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, through the commanding heights and ingenuity of Lieutenant General Buratai, a military leader, strategist and tactician.
Of course, one may pardon their ignorance and partisan views, but it will be criminal to let the misinformation pass without addressing them. It is, however, cheering to know that many Nigerians, especially those whose the professionalism and patriotism of the Nigerian Army has positively rubbed on, would have nothing to say about the leadership of General Buratai, but Gracias!
When General Tukur Buratai was appointed the COAS in July 2015 by President Buhari, he promised to make a difference in the counter-terrorism operations; he vowed to defeat Boko Haram insurgents, reclaim all seized territories and free Nigerians held hostage by terrorists. He gave Nigerians timelines to execute his assignment and has religiously complied with it. Today, we sit here to savour a greater freedom from these demonic forces who were gradually making inroads to the nation’s capital city, Abuja, before being cut to size by General Buratai and his gallant soldiers.
Although he is gentle officer, General Buratai has been brutal on Boko Haram and bandits, and in the history of the Nigerian Army , he is a man with many ‘firsts’ . It was under his leadership that the Nigerian Army gets it own prestigious University.
In addition to the establishment of this University , the Nigerian Army under General Buratai’ s command do not take for granted the training and re-training of its personnel.
They have expanded their in-theater training for troops in the frontlines to afford them the required capabilities to operate and conduct effective operations. Special attention was also given to providing local and foreign training opportunities for all cadre of officers and soldiers.
The nations’ territorial integrity, particularly along our land borders has not been breached unlike what was obtainable before now . The Nigerian Army continually maintained a posture to defend Nigeria’s territorial rights and Interests.
General Buratai understands the power of unity and that is why he maintained a robust security relations with the neighboring countries of Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic in the fight against the ISWA which is terrorising all the aforementioned countries. Together they have achieved tremendous success of decimation of the Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorist group.
General Buratai’s core values that emanated from professionalism and responsiveness included training, regimentation, welfare, operational exigencies, logistics, inter-agency cooperation and observance of human rights.
On human rights, the Nigerian Army under Buratai, has experience a marked departure from its past rocky relationship with human rights bodies, but now engage them as partners rather than rivals in the internal security operations of the Country . The Army leadership has been able to close the gap with the civil populace, human rights agencies and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
Also lauded by Nigerians are the Nigerian Army open dialogue with human rights and legal bodies like the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Amnesty International (AI), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA).
At some point in the life of the current Army leadership, General Buratai’s vision at improving the institution’s image led to the establishment of Human Rights Desk under the Department of Civil/Military Affairs (CMA) , the desk was instituted to investigate all cases of human rights violations involving the army.
The leadership of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, also received ovations from Nigerians when it reabsorbed some dismissed soldiers and officers accused of acts of cowardice amongst others by a previous court-martial.
The Nigerian Army under General Buratai is witnessing a lot of reorganization and redeployment in a bid to improve their overall operational responsiveness and professionalism. The Chief of Army Staff regularly approved the redeployment of field and operational commanders in order to inject new ideas in the command and control structure in various operations across the country.
The provision of adequate healthcare to personnel and their families has continued to remain one of General Buratai’s priorities. Many officers, soldiers and their family members have benefited in the Nigerian Army Medical Evacuation both within and outside the Country.
General Buratai Enhanced innovation and partnerships in the defence industry have also encouraged and supported all officers and soldiers who have innovative ideas and competencies.
It has also resumed full collaboration with the Defence Industries Coorporation (DICON) for needed parts and small arms and ammunition.
Similarly, the Nigerian Army is partnering with several companies in Nigeria including Innoson Motors, Proforce Limited and Nigeria Machine Tools, among others, towards the production of light and heavy armoured vehicles, critical equipment as well as protective clothing for the troops.
These collaborations have led to the development of the TYB Rover, Infantry Patrol Vehicle (IPV) and the Bionbion Helicopter, among several other equipment.
The Army also engaged some foreign technical companies and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) to help in the repair and refurbishing of some of the heavier and more delicate platforms.
A number of new developments that have taken place includes : The establishment of the Nigerian Army Women Corps (NAWC) to develop female officers and soldiers that can be employed in all operational engagements of the Army.
It is equally worth of note, the establishment of the first ever Cyber Command. The Command which has been effectively tackling the fake news against the Army, the country and secure the cyber domain from hostile elements.
While not pushing a picture of perfection because every human being have their ups and downs, it is, however, established that the Army Chief, within a short period of time has been able to galvanized and lead a relatively discouraged and unmotivated soldiers that he inherited to a veritable team of patriotic officers who are now willing to put all they have in defence of the county and her territory.
Clearly, the genuine intentions of Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai and his unalloyed commitment in the war against terrorism in Nigeria, has reignited a true Nigerian spirit. For this, all and sundry must doff their hats for him and all the gallant troops fighting day and night to keep Nigeria secure. But as they say, the reward for hardwork is more work.
This article was contributed by Comrade Oladimeji Odeyemi, a security analyst and a counter terrorist expert. He is the Convener of the Coalition of Civil Society Groups against Terrorism in Nigeria.