By Abubakar Gana PhD
“…tactics …is only a small part of generalship. For a general must also be capable of furnishing military equipment and providing supplies for the men; he must be resourceful, active, careful, hardy and quick-witted; he must be both gentle and brutal, at once straightforward and designing, capable of both caution and surprise, lavish and rapacious, generous and mean, skilful in defence and attack; and there are many other qualifications, some natural, some acquired, that are necessary to one who would succeed as a general.” -Socrates.
The above quote describes generalship in every sense of it hence the subject of this article. I have, on numerous occasions, stated that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai is a gift to Nigeria. This position of mine is hinged on the exploits of the Nigerian Army in its counter-insurgency operations in North-East Nigeria, as well as its involvement in internal security operations.
I stand to be corrected; there has not been a time like this since the Civil war that the Nigerian Army has been this stretched. With over 40 operations running simultaneously across the country, it would take a legend to be able to coordinate such operations in a period as critical as this in Nigeria.
I want to dwell on the efforts of the Nigerian Army in internal security operations across the country, and I dare say the Nigerian Army has indeed risen to the occasion in times too numerous to mention. This is on the heels that Nigeria has experienced a plethora of security issues before the coming on board of the Muhammadu Buhari administration. The country was on the brinks with the activities of non-state actors, from militancy to armed banditry. Cattle rustling, kidnappings and abductions to mention but a few were some of the issues confronting Nigeria.
But all of these changed because one man decided to take the bull by the horns in repositioning the Nigerian Army for more remarkable exploits. The Nigerian Army of today is one that has responded positively to addressing threats posed by non-state actors in Nigeria despite the avalanche of conspiracies against it. Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai might not be loud, but his grasp of issues as regards warfare is indeed legendary. As a military historian and one who has held strategic positions in the course of his illustrious career that culminated in his appointment as the Chief of Army staff in 2015, one would not have expected anything less.
That the Nigerian Army was able to turn the tide against the Boko Haram insurgents in North-East Nigeria in a record time speaks volume of a man on a mission. Regardless of what some individuals and associations would want the members of the unsuspecting general public to believe, the Nigerian Army has indeed proved that with the right leadership, great exploits would never be in short supply. Making a comparison with the situation in Nigeria six years ago and now, one would come to terms with the fact that the the Nigerian Army has transformed into a professional force that has elicited commendations from wide and far.
This is aside from the fact that the counter-insurgency operations of the Nigerian Army in the prosecution of the Boko Haram insurgency have become a reference point in counter-insurgency operations around the world. Today, the Boko Haram insurgents have been displaced from their operational headquarters in Sambisa Forest. The Boko Haram insurgents have not been able to carry out attacks in the federal capital territory in the past five years, unlike in times past where the Boko Haram group ran riots.
Even though this undeniable fact has been downplayed by the propaganda machinery of those that have elected to stand the truth on its head, it doesn’t take away the fact that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai has indeed justified his appointment as the Chief of Army Staff.
The legend in Lt. Gen TY Buratai is such that he has been able to boost the morale of troops by routinely leading counter-insurgency operations in North-East Nigeria. On numerous occasions, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai has been seen with soldiers in the trenches in North-East Nigeria leading the charge against the Boko Haram insurgents. The welfare of the troops has witnessed a complete turnaround occasioned by prompt payment of allowances to officers and soldiers in operation in North-East Nigeria.
The ingenuity of Lt. Gen. TY Buratai is also such that places him on a pedestal fit for only legends because in five years, the transformation that was witnessed in the Nigerian Army are such that would have taken donkey years to achieve if a mediocre was at the helm of affairs. He has been nothing but outstanding, he has been remarkable in his conduct, and he has indeed proved all that is there to demonstrate with regards to patriotism, dedication and commitment to the Nigerian cause.
That the Nigerian Army has always been called upon to assist the Nigerian Police in internal security operations indicates an unalloyed belief in its operational effectiveness in addressing security challenges in the country. It must be noted that this wasn’t the norm in times past, and all thanks to the leadership strides of Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai in repositioning the Nigerian Army for more extraordinary exploits.
I dare say that the feats displayed by Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai are rare and in some westerns climes he would have been given the highest honours in the land. This is not an individual that any well-meaning country takes for granted. The best we owe the likes of Lt. Gen TY Buratai is continued support and words of encouragement. Those that understand what it means to lead troops in battle would understand the pressure on the shoulders of the Chief of Army Staff. And that the Nigerian Army has been able to maintain and sustain the tempo and achieve results in addressing the security threats in the country speaks volume. I know for sure that Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai remains one of the best things that happened to the Nigerian Army in the fulfilment of its constitutional mandate of preserving the territorial integrity and other task assigned to it.
There are numerous instances to on how Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai has indeed distinguished himself in service to Nigeria. It consequently behoves on us all to continue to extend our unalloyed support to him as he continues to render invaluable services to Nigeria.
Gana PhD is a researcher and conflict resolution expert, writing from Keffi.