By Okanga Agila
A lot has been said about the exploits of the Nigerian Army in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria. While some have questioned its operational effectiveness, some have also praised it to high heavens. In my opinion, those that have had reasons to question the operational efficiency of the Nigerian Army did so on reasons best known to them. Also, those that have praised the operational effectiveness of the Nigerian Army did so based on what it is they have seen by making a comparison with what it was in times past and what it is now.
I belong to that school of thought that is full of praises for the Nigerian Army not just in the fight against terrorism in North-East Nigeria, but for how it has been able to handle its military operations simultaneously across the country. In the North and the East, South, and West, the presence of the Nigerian Army is felt.
This brings to the issue of leadership and the critical role it has played in the fight against terrorism and other militant groups in Nigeria. According to one of the celebrated war strategist of all time and author of the book ‘Art of War’ Sun Tzu, “the general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.”
This is one attribute of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai that I have in numerous forays tried to bring to the front burner for Nigerians to indeed understand and appreciate the sacrifices that have gone into winning the war against terrorism and other militant groups in Nigeria. He is indeed the jewel of the kingdom because if the territorial integrity of Nigeria is questioned, then there would be no country.
For me, no matter what anyone thinks, there has been a substantial difference in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria since 2015. This much was corroborated in many quarters and also coupled with the fact that no Nigerian territory is under the control of Boko Haram terrorist anymore. How was this possible you might want to ask? It’s simply leadership. We must admit the role of sound leadership in all human endeavours. And the operations of the Nigerian Army are not an exception to the impact or effect of good leadership in its operational outcomes.
Just like Sun Tzu, stated, ‘the general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom’ and this is the case of Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai if you ask me. He has been bold to admit and strategize at the same time. He is not one that would only churn out commands. He is involved most times in the execution of these commands as evident in the numerous instances where you can’t but find him in the trenches, either reviewing with his commanders or feasting with his soldiers in an attempt to provide that psychological boost that they require to keep the fire burning.
I recall on one of the occasions of an event where Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai spoke extensively about his vision and mission for the Nigerian Army. He was concise in his words and also sincere in its delivery. I recall that three years down the line, he has been able to match his words with action. The promises he made has been religiously fulfilled to the extent that I wondered how he was able to do some of the things he does. However, again, I am reminded by Sun Tzu that ‘thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. (2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. (3) He will win whose Army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. (4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. (5) He will win who has the military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.” All of these have been systematically incorporated in the operations of the Nigerian Army I must add, and the number three quote says it all about how Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai has been able to turn a once disillusioned Nigerian Army notorious for making retreats instead of advancing in the fight against Boko Haram terrorist to a robust and strategic Nigerian Army that has indeed taken the battle to the Boko Haram terrorist.
This is because the same zeal and commitment exhibited by the Chief of Army Staff are the same displayed across the ranks in the Nigerian Army which has ultimately translated to what is now recorded as the successes of the Nigerian Army in the fight against terrorism and other militant groups in Nigeria.
We must admit that since 2015, the successes recorded by the Nigerian Army has conformed with the promise made by the Chief of Army Staff that never again would the territorial integrity of Nigeria be threatened. The question is, has he kept this promise to Nigeria? The answer is yes. This is on the heels that since the present administration came on board in 2015 and the subsequent appointment of the service chiefs, Nigerians have indeed had a reason to sleep well, especially those of us resident in the federal capital territory, who were once under constant attack from Boko Haram terrorist.
It is instructive to state that since 2015, the federal capital territory has not experienced any Boko Haram threat. This is no mean feat; it just tells of how the Chief of Army Staff has been able to match words with actions and how he has been able to carry all along in the quest to keep Nigeria safe and secured. This, in my opinion, is explained by a quote by Sun Tzu, wherein he stated that ‘regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.’
This has been one of the strategies employed by the Chief of Army Staff, and it has yielded tremendous success as regards the war against terrorism in Nigeria. Also, it is instructive to add that Boko Haram terrorist has not been able to spread their tentacles to other parts of Nigeria; instead their remnants have been confined to the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin region.
I think at this point and with the way and manner Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai has carried on since 2015, military historians in Nigeria are duty-bound to document his exploits to serve as reference material in the future. For me, the summation of Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai’s leadership of the Nigerian Army is that of a promise kept and still counting.
Okanga, a traditional warrior wrote this piece from Agila, Benue State.