Lt General Tukur Yusufu Buratai: The giant strides of Nigerian Army chief

Buratai
Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Burutai

Since the beginning of the war on Terror of the Boko Haram kind in Nigeria effectively in year 2011/2012, never has the country faced more than two different kinds of internal conflicts and wars, as we do now.

That Nigeria has won the war of terror of the Boko Haram kind, is a well established fact, thanks to President Muhammadu Buhari and in large parts, to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, the Army Chief who has for the past three years been saddled with a three pronged war, in which he has made ground-breaking records of successes with Boko Haram and modest progress in tackling the Herdsmen Farmers clashes… And the third one, which is perhaps the most trying one, the politically sponsored killings, mostly in the Middle-Belt region.

We are in a different kind of war.

The type of war that needs the discipline which makes the soldiers of a well trained army reliable in battle.

Victory in our peculiar kind of war, is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment.

On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy the polity, than to make a country stronger and better.

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It is only possible to impart instruction and give commands in such a manner and such a tone of voice as to inspire in the soldier no feeling but an intense desire to obey, while at the same time inspire confidence in the Nigerian people, tired of the killings all over the country.

To not handle the present challenges with tact, and embark on indiscriminate engagement tactics, in such opposite manner to mostly civil clashes, will only attract strong resentment and a desire to invite anarchy.

Nigeria at this very moment, is in need of superior handling and very careful stratagem, the type that can ensure a containment, rather than an escalation.

The one mode or the other in dealing with uprisings and conflicts in which the military is drafted in, must be weighed carefully, lest the matter be mishandled.

Here in this kind of a different war, information gathering, espionage, intelligence deployment, become the first line of tools that spring from a corresponding spirit in the breast of the Commander, rather than the conventional armor, bullets and guns.

The Commander, who feels the respect which is due to tactics, stratagems cannot fail to inspire in his men, the respect for himself — And here is where the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Buratai must be commended in the way he has been handling a totally unconventional war in which communal communication, interactions, community service, community development, youth elevation, provision of amenities to the locals and prompt response have been the hallmark of the new and different approach to handling this peculiar war within, in which the Army has found itself.

The Nigerian crucible of war and battle is a challenge we can only imagine. We are unfortunate to live in a country where war within is a constant element, only made real by saboteurs, ethnic bigots, politics, politicians, who have or currently do serve in government.

We can be only grateful to the men and the women who serve in the military, especially in the Nigerian Army.

We honor the men and women who have died serving in the Nigerian Army, since this war in terror and allied issues began like seven years ago.

If there is not the war, you don’t get the great General; if there is not a great challenge, you don’t get a great statesman. And this is where General Buratai has distinguished himself.

Let us consider these few instances..

Not too long ago, and just a little bit of time before the General T Y Danjuma allegation of complicity against the Nigerian Army, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Buratai donated a well equipped clinic and a borehole to a community in Taraba State, same state of Taraba that General Danjuma comes from…

Same General Buratai sought for and got collaboration between the Nigerian Army and Taraba native institutions, with a view to having an effective intelligence and information systems in place to enable the Army deal with the communal issues, clashes and killings that have been reported in the state.

And even after General Danjuma’s allegations, the Nigerian Army under General Buratai immediately set up a high panel of enquiry to look into the allegations of General Danjuma’s, and also promised to make the findings, public.

And in Benue, the controversial place where the strife and clashes are loudest, General Buratai offered five Benue youths automatic recruitment, which he has since carried out.

In Kaduna, General Buratai gave his troops, three weeks to flush out the bandits responsible for a number of killings in the Southern Kaduna area of the state, and the troops responded with a resounding success.

Setting a good example is critical to the success of this kind of war within in which the army is giving back to the society, moral, infrastructural, and communal support of various kinds.

If it is about solving conflicts and finding solutions to communal clashes, farmer/herdsmen clashes, trying to improve the culture of inclusiveness as a panacea to ending such wars, it’s the right place to start.

These gestures by Lt General Tukur Yusufu Buratai can only help a troubled nation think more about an Army with a human face, rather than the image of a militarized country in a Democracy.

Perseverance through adversity is key to succeeding in battle, and in these conflicts that also have political undertones.

The nation is now getting to know that many of the conflicts in Benue and in Plateau states, are as a result of the intervention of unscrupulous politicians in these states….

For instance, the Armed Forces have established that in the three local governments affected in the recent incident that claimed many lives in Benue state, a Councillor in Fidi Local government council in Markudi has been apprehended with 7 others who have subsequently made confessional statements to the authorities concerning their roles in the carnage that involved the loss of many lives… Assault weapons and many rounds of bullets were also recovered from them.

As army, the troops, the Chief of Army Staff, know so well, it’s the ability to push forward, unraveling the real Killers that matters most, whilst also acknowledging the protracted issues of farmers and herder clashes.

For a country that is hurting and overwhelmed by the wanton killings, there will be emotional reactions and deserving finger pointing at suspected herders for almost all the deaths recorded in the troubled states of the Middle Belt zone.

Yet, there must be caution, so as not to escalate the tension further, by aggravating the already tensed situation.

It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation…without bothering to know the facts, without working on the vital attention to intelligence gathering.

Since the war on terror began, just as it is to be found in such situations all over the globe, other criminally intended groups with opportunistic tendencies, have also launched their own activities using the cover of terror to hide their identity and their intent.

And as the general elections of 2019 draws near, criminally inclined politicians too, have joined the fray to gain political traction so as to thrive in such confusion.

These are the challenges facing the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Yusufu Buratai as a True leader of men at a very difficult period in our nation’s history.

He has a vision for the Army, which is to have a Professionally Responsive Nigerian Army in the Discharge of its Constitutional Roles…These were in his own words.

His present efforts are geared towards ensuring a safer environment for development and socio-economic activities to thrive in the country.

These are trying times in which the Armed Forces must ensure that they conduct themselves professionally and respond adequately to threats against our nation in accordance with our constitutional roles. The rest of us must therefore respond by having implicit confidence in our Armed Forces as they tackle our myriad security issues.

The rest of us must grow our confidence levels to stand with our Armed Forces in this war against all sundry wars. We must develop the courage to grow the Trust and to accept the tough decisions that go with overcoming our security challenges, including the courage to speak for our Armed Forces in their various efforts to rid our nation of the enemies to our security.

We also must have the compassion to listen to the findings of security personnel, as most times the usual narratives may not be exactly representing the truth on the ground.

A nation does not set out to be a great nation by fiat, but becomes one by the quality of the actions of its citizenry and the integrity of the people at various leadership roles.

To make sure the Army does not become entangled with politics, thereby losing the focus, the goal and the intent to keep the Army away from politics, partisan and otherwise, Lt General Buratai gave such an order while speaking at the Chief of Army Staff 1st Quarter Conference in Abuja, that GOCs, Brigade Commandeers and other officers interested in politics and romancing with politicians, must resign from service, warning that to have such a mind of being partisan will come will profound consequences…. And many times since that moment of his initial warning, he continues to reaffirm his stand on the need for men of the Nigerian Army, to remain apolitical, especially as Nigeria approaches the election year.

He warned, “Let me state emphatically here that the unity and integrity of Nigeria lies on the military and the Nigerian Army in particular. Therefore, any act inimical to the unity and integrity of this country by personnel of the Nigerian Army will be decisively dealt with.”

He further said, “You are all enjoined to continue to remind officers and soldiers under your command to remain non-partisan and be guided by the stipulated code of conduct and rules of engagement in the discharge of their duties particularly in the coming 2019 General Elections. Furthermore, Nigerian Army personnel in any capacity who receives any form of inducement from politicians, public or private entities, knowingly or unknowingly will be severely punished. Both the giver and taker of such inducement will be investigated and appropriately sanctioned”

The advocacy of the Chief of Army Staff, to his men to shun politics and for soldiers to restrain themselves from any act of political, religious or ethnic patronisation, must be seen as prescient in the wake of allegations of complicity that followed, and Buratai’s unique leadership traits must be seen as foreseeing the possibility of such allegations when none of such had ever been made.

He had said any of such practices would attract severe consequences and that was exactly what happened when 38 officers were retired for various acts deemed to be inimical to the goals and aspirations of the Army in tackling all the various acts of insurgencies, all around the country.

When General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, flagged-off the two Battalion Forward Operation Base at the troubled Birnin-Gwari area of Kaduna State, a while ago, he charged the soldiers to get the killers in the troubled area within three weeks, and after three weeks about 22 of such Killers had been rounded up. Such is the seriousness the Chief of Army Staff has attached to the security situations that the country has been facing in recent times..

Here is a man who has demanded a resounding success story from his men, and such has been the repose of trust that has led to the massive response of successes recorded so far.

The Army chief told the soldiers not to adopt the defensive approach but rather, an offensive one.

He said since the battle has been brought to them they must take it back and crush them wherever they are within the forest.

“The killings must stop, the wanton destructions of properties must stop, all over the country”, he said at the time. Such is the belief and assurance that the security forces will finally bring the criminals to their knees…

At this juncture, accolades must be duly poured on the President and on the National Assembly for facilitating the release of funds needed to tackle all the security challenges facing our dear Nation.

The fight against Terror and all other forms of insecurity and insurgency, is an expensive venture requiring the adequate hardware deployment ,the right armor and the right technology.

All of these means money.

The ability and capability of our military are to be considerably increased in terms of the platforms that would be procured, and in the provision of specialized training that would be needed to end the war on terror and other allied wars.

As the nation is acquiring and procuring these new equipments, it means further consolidating on other areas where there are challenges so that the troops will be able to use these equipment and operate very efficiently to be able to defeat all the criminals threatening the Unity of our Dear Country, Nigeria.

Comrade Oladimeji Odeyemi is a security analyst and a counter terrorist exper, He’s the Convener, of the Coalition of Civil Society Groups against Terrorism in Nigeria

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