By Okanga Agila

Love or hate Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, but what catches that attention of everyone around him is his sagacious endowments and infectious aura are his admirably constant leadership qualities. It has secured and led him to break new grounds to the bewilderment of his contemporaries in Nigeria.

He directs timely focus to catchy areas and adopts the necessary modalities to achieve his intended results. Gen. Buratai has excellently dispensed himself in leadership as an inseparable stickler, conformist and advocate of acquiescence with the highest standards of probity, public morality, transparency and accountability in the Nigerian Army.

Gen. Buratai is the self-effacing Borno born soldier, leadership pundit, Boko Haram’s greatest adversary in recent times, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and helmsman of the counter-insurgency operations in the country. He rolls in patriotic ambience all the times and repeatedly, he has proven his prowess not only in the trenches, but in leadership as an administrator with immense treasures.

Gen. Buratai has a resonant intolerance for corruption, like his principal, the Commander-In-Chief of Nigerian Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari. Therefore, the Army Chief aggressively observes and pushes for the entrenchment and commitment to the culture of responsiveness, probity, prudence and accountable responsibility in the Nigerian Army.

In the last five years, the reformist Gen. Buratai has relentlessly implanted in the heart and psyche of every Nigerian soldier, the values of public morality, probity and accountability in the service of the nation. Where he sights a schism that might serve as a stumbling block to the attainment of these values, he quickly bridges them to raise a platform for smooth compliance.

A few days ago, in Abuja, Gen. Buratai did the needful. He consented to the Nigerian Army’s collaboration with the Code of Conduct Bureau for a two-day workshop on “compliance with assets declaration and Code of Conduct for Officers and Soldiers.” Assets declaration by some public leaders in Nigeria has been a thorny issue, especially for those who acquired stupendously suspicious wealth while holding public office.

As usual, Gen. Buratai has staged out to severe the Nigerian Army from this damaging cusp of national malaise. The talk -shop, learning and brainstorming forum, facilitated by Go-Getters Consulting Limited, targeted all Nigerian Army personnel entrusted with leadership responsibilities to enliven their memories on the importance of Assets Declaration and adherence to prescriptions of the Code of Conduct as focal public servants.

It is to his glorious credit that from the outset when Gen. Buratai was appointed the COAS, he discerned clearly the prime position of public morality and its contribution to the credibility of government. Leaders of the Nigerian Military in the preceding administration had credibility problems because of alleged pervasive and baffling corruption in the prosecution of the then raging Boko Haram insurgency. Transparency International (TI) consistently had verbal battles with the Nigerian Government and Nigerian Military’s top hierarchy over same issues which some analysts claimed stifled the war on insurgency.

Therefore, desirous to win the war on terror, Gen. Buratai realized that the only option is the internal cleansing of the Nigerian Army of the proclivity to lucre. He believed without a doubt that the only action which would reposition the Nigerian Army to pride itself as a responsible institution is absolute compliance with the best etiquettes on transparency, accountability and probity.

The Army Chief therefore, immediately re-organized the Accounts Department of the Nigerian Army, migrated soldiers to IPPIS payment system and standardized procurements procedures by ensuring strict conformity with Public Procurement (BPP) laws as well as stamped transparency and prudence in financial management of the lean resources of the Army. Gen. Buratai’s renewed attention on assets declaration for officers and men at the leadership level in the Nigerian Army is the latest trademark badge of his administration.

Speaking at the two-day workshop, Gen. Tukur Buratai implored, officers and men of the Nigerian Army to absorb the culture of accountability, transparency and probity in their operations. In very certain terms, Gen. Buratai informed personnel of the Nigerian Army that they have no alternative than to fulfill their obligations as public officers in line with the provisions of the fifth schedule of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution.

Gen. Buratai thundered, “the Nigerian Army under my leadership is desirous to maintaining the highest standard of accountability in the conduct of our activities, consistent with the requirements and behaviours of public officers which conform with the highest standard of probity, public morality, transparency and accountability.”

The workshop which was packaged to practically tutor participants on filling of assets declaration forms and all the nitty-gritty required to comply with assets declaration for Code of Conduct for public officers is to be replicated in all the Army Divisions in Nigeria by the directive of the Army Chief. He explained that “My directive is premised on the belief that every person of Nigerian army entrusted with leadership responsibility must understand the primacy of asset declaration and code of conduct for public officers and complying with all its provisions and requirements.”

Gen. Buratai has again distinguished himself as a rare gem in the leadership spectrum of Nigeria. Whereas, many heads of government establishments hedge accountability and declaration of assets, Buratai is leading from the front and by example as an ambassador of the Code of Conduct. Without any prompting, Gen. Buratai re-declared his assets when he was appointed the COAS in 2015.

And it is Gen. Buratai’s firm conviction that the fight against Boko Haram insurgency can never be successful unless corruption in the Nigerian Army is identified and uprooted from its source in consonance with the preachments of President Buhari. He reminded officers and soldiers at the workshop of its imperative because “…accountability is a prerequisite for driving the fight against corruption which is one of the major focus of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.”

The iconic Army boss works and dreams in the shadows of the thinking or replicate the actions of Mr. President. His identity has become synonymous with how a committed public officer should conduct himself in leadership by inculcating fiscal discipline in subordinates. He spares no officer or soldier who indulges in acts of sleaze. The Army Chief loathes anyone who does anything inimical to the success of the Nigerian Army in prosecuting a victorious war against Boko Haram insurgents, ISWAP terrorists and other criminal elements tormenting Nigeria.

Therefore, as the czar of accountable leadership, Gen. Buratai’s exemplary passion for the promotion of probity and transparency in the conduct of public officials is worthy of emulation by other Nigerians entrusted with leadership. As the old cliché goes, leadership is a collective responsibility and every Nigerian must strive to show a difference and the enthusiasm of selfless service wherever he superintends like the imprints or obsession in Gen. Buratai on making the difference in the Nigerian Army.

Okanga wrote from Agila, Benue State.


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