By Thomas Uzah PhD
Wars are sad experiences anywhere once allowed to start. Terrorism wars and in the case of Nigeria, domesticated as Boko Haram insurgency and its Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) allies are not easy, but they have had their globally publicized dream to conquer Nigeria terminated.
The agenda of the sponsors of terrorism and other conspirators in this satanic scheme against Nigeria, suggests these elements would have completely overran Nigeria now. But they are permanently blocked by the Nigerian Army under the leadership of Gen. Buratai.
These aggressor-terror sects came close to achieving this target up to the first quarter of 2015. Boko Haram had overwhelmed and conquered the entire Northern part of Nigeria. The militant insurgents on bloody campaigns were secretly and speedily exporting their heinous atrocities to the Southern Hemisphere of Nigeria.
It reigned supreme from the Northeast, to the Northwest and down to the Northcentral, including the nation’s capital, Abuja. Nigerians know the floating, gory details, which would not even be recounted to strangers. Even security formations all over the country mounted defence barricades higher than the walls of Jericho for the fear of Boko Haram. Government Houses in Borno and Yobe states were on the verge/threats of conquest and occupation by insurgents.
But looking at yesterday, there is a significant improvement on countering Boko Haram, ISWAP and other emergent terror sects. If some Nigerians maliciously withhold praises for the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari on any other achievement; they should still thank the Almighty God for donating this conscientious leader to the nation to battle terrorism to its faint, and nearly defeated status now.
Formerly, Boko Harm could strike a community or village in the Northeast serial for three or four days unmolested, wreaked whatever havoc, including massive killings and abductions of people without a whiff from the Nigerian Military.
Our country only found courage and strength to tackle terrorism on arrival of President Buhari as Commander-in-Chief of the war. That’s sad news to some people already. And with a loyal and patriotic servant, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and leader of the counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai, the progression of the anti-terrorism combats is confrontationally rewarding and victorious for Nigeria.
Ably assisted by a team of equally competent lieutenants, Gen. Buratai’s field leadership of counter-insurgency has deeply bruised Boko Haram/ISAWP elements and other trans-border armed gangs which previously converged on Nigeria. They have not only been dispersed, but now, only faintly bark and smell their dungs in confined holes, in the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin troughs in stealthy ambush of high-profile targets.
What any bookish Nigerian can easily pick from Gen. Buratai character traits is his unbeatable courage, determination, patriotism and an unbreakable resolve to excel on every assignment. He does not shirk, even when his life is the target of enemy forces and Boko Haram/ISWAP criminals.
Thrice, Gen. Buratai faced insurgents and their variegated sects in an ambush on his convoy and defeated them. Instead of dreading the battlefield, Gen. Buratai waxed stronger, spent more time in the frontlines and in the trenches with troops, personally leading troops to battle the debased bastards.
Everywhere, the courage of leaders to continue to do the right thing; put their hearts and soul into an assignment and national cause, stands them tall from the flock. It is a singular leadership philosophy which distinguishes true leaders from an assemblage of leaders. And Gen TY Buratai has shown true leadership exemplariness in all nuances and spectrums in leading the counter-insurgency operations from the warfront. He feels the pulse, the pains and also, savours the victories against Boko Haram together with troops on the fighting turf. Only courageous commanders of war can shadow in this manner.
When he took over the command of the Nigerian Army in July 2015 and after the tour of Army formations throughout the country, including troops at the warfront in the Northeast, he realized, the morale of soldiers dampened and at its lowest ebb so terribly. He identified the problems with firsthand astuteness and acted on the solutions very fast, hence it was the first antidote in winning the war against insurgency.
Today, a reinvigorated Nigerian Army under Gen. Buratai has brought Nigeria this far on the path of salvation on counter-terrorism combativeness. Like 7UP soft drink catchy advertisement slogan in the days of yore, the “difference is clear!”
In spite of the malicious and senseless darts hurled at him by cynics, opponents, nihilists and veiled enemies of Nigeria, it has proven inadequate in the repression of the glaring truth to sane and objective minds. Gen. Buratai remains an enigma in every ramification in the warfront, a world class acclaimed counter-terrorism veteran and military leadership guru in warfare and administration.
A time-tested axiom alludes to the insatiability of human beings genetically. Therefore, some Nigerians have frontally attacked, criticized, denigrated, and slighted Gen. Buratai’s actions. At various times, contracted activists, some terrorists’ media pons, detractors and all shades of mercenaries have been hired to demean and defame him.
He is pretty aware, but ignores them, looks the other way and concentrates on his assignment of successfully prosecuting the war against Boko Haram/ISWAP elements with resounding triumphs at every turn. Life generally is a mixture of good and bad. It’s even a scriptural injunction!
Whilst Gen. Buratai is unjustly vilified and scoffed; overwhelming number of unbiased and responsible leaders/citizens, fetes or chant his praises laudably internally and globally. The US war veteran, Gen.Douglas MacArthur, echoed that; “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others….”
Of course, only a fool expects praises or endorsements from all because in the attempts to impose good on society, there are the entrenched interests of evildoers which are terribly hurt and its normal for them to disparage the crusader of good, justice and fairness to all. Gen. Buratai is this victim and let it be known to all Nigerians as the nation celebrates independence @60.
But since Gen. Buratai assumed the mantle of leadership of the counter-insurgency operations in the country, leaders representing millions of people world-wide, have noted his smothering fires on Boko Haram over the years. These respected leaders have never ceased eulogies or special recognitions of Gen. Buratai either directly or in eulogies of the Nigerian Government for performing wonders in routing the monster of terrorism in a short time under the Buhari Presidency.
Buratai brought the world to its knees in December 2016, when he led Nigerian troops to demystify the dreaded Sambisa forest, which assumed global recognition as an impermeable terrorists’ haven for its dreadfulness. Thereafter, he turned the once feared Sambisa forest into a games center and Army arms practice ground. Whether day or night, Gen. Buratai is sighted in the theatre of war. He spends most of his times in the places that anyone else could dread morbidly.
In recognition of his feats, the Government of Brazil conferred him with the rare highest Military honour/award of the country. Conferring the Brazilian Military Order of Merit Award on Gen. Buratai, President Michel Remer spewed soothingly; “… the award was in recognition of his exemplary and world’s recognized leadership qualities and the Nigerian Army’s effort in the fight against terrorism and insurgency.”
One of the earliest recommendations of President Buhari’s battles against Boko Haram came from the former Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Mr. Ban Ki-moon, on the sidelines during a bilateral meeting of the 71st UN General Assembly in New York in 2016. The former UN scribe was reported as saying; “the UN recognizes the achievements of the Buhari administration against Boko Haram….”
In 2018, after three years of battling Boko Haram, President Buhari was in Washington, and President Donald Trump appraised the counter-terrorism wars positively with these words; “Nigeria is also leading African nations in the fight against Boko Haram, and — another ruthless jihadist terrorist groups.”
And as far back as 2017, Gen. Buratai realized the potent threat of cyberspace terrorism. The COAS immediately erected a counter-cyberspace structure in the Nigerian Army against terrorist’s propaganda; anon-combative wisdom and intelligence strategy. A former US Secretary of States, Mr. Rex Tillerson, at the meeting of ‘Global Coalition Working to Defeat ISIS’ comprising 68 countries, held in Washington, D.C, implored other nations to emulate Nigeria thus- “But let me be clear: we must fight ISIS online as aggressively as we would on the ground.”
Before former President Olusegun Obasanjo became despoiled, his visit to ex-Borno State Gov. Kashim Shettima in Maiduguri in 2016 acknowledged the changing tides in the counter-insurgency operations.Obasanjo enthused; “… our security forces are on the ascendency over the forces of destruction and the menace of insurgency that we have experienced for almost six years now;’’ and maintained this stand until he became partisan by mid-2018.
But beyond exalting strong and incomparable influences on blighting Boko Haram/ISWAP, Gen. Buratai’s a little less than five years leadership of the Nigerian Army has brought awesome structural innovations into the Army institution in Nigeria. Its essence can only be gleaned upon realization that the Nigerian Army stagnated for over two decades.
Today, however, changing narratives of the Army under the Buhari Presidency/Buratai leadership have seen awful internal expansions of the Army from Six Divisions to eight Nigerian Army Divisions, the latest two, located in Rivers and Monguno, in addition to countless Forward Operational Bases. He has created Human Rights Desk in Army Divisions; ditto the novel Nigerian Army Female Corps; renovated Barracks and so forth. The Nigerian Army has two additional referral hospitals added to its existing stock within five years of Buratai’s leadership.
Scholarly inclined, Gen. Buratai has resuscitated dead, but viable institutions of the Army and established new ones. Among schools revived include, the Nigerian Army School of Artillery, Nigerian Army School of Engineering and he has established Army schools to deepen internal training of soldiers like the Nigerian Army Aviation School; the Nigerian Army Vehicle Manufacturing Company; Nigerian Army University Biu (NAUB) and Nigerian Army War College. Every facet of the Nigerian Army is positively touched under Gen. Buratai’s guidance.
Buratai himself knows; he is the proverbial village mango tree which bears edible fruits in leadership of the Army. So, he consistently ignores the stones hurled at him by traducers, but continues to render selfless service to Nigerian Army and Nigerians. Gen. Buratai has really displayed rare enigmatic and charismatic leadership outcomes, only the divinely anointed are capacitated to display such audacity of courage; the type very rare anywhere in the world. Nigerians fondly remember this war monger as the nation clocks 60 years of independence.
Uzah PhD is Head of Department, Mass Communication, Kwararafa University.