By Ibrahim Dahiru Danfulani
Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai the helmsman of the Nigerian Army (NA) is an enigmatic personality and a natural leader in all human calculations. In view of the outstanding achievements in the areas of combating Boko Haram’s terrorism, banditry in the north west and dramatic transformation of the NA, he is indeed one of the outstanding and the best chief of Army Staff in the Army’s 157 years of existence having taken over the mantle of leadership at a critical period of insecurity in the history of Nigeria, – at a time insurgency, terrorism and banditry are becoming dominant issues in our daily lives in Nigeria.
The leadership style plus moral courage of Gen Buratai has since assisted heavily in taming the activities of the terrorists in the North East and banditry in the North West, despite occasional hitches or setbacks here and there not withstanding.
Clearly, many factors are accounttable for the achievements recorded in checkmating insecurity in Nigeria. Some of the factors are – Gen Buratai’s courage, charisma, perseverance and leadership by example has made him a hero and one of the greatest motivational military Commanders in the military history of Nigeria.
So far, he has shown extraordinary commitment, selfless service and devotion to duty oftentimes at the risk of his health and at the risk of his life.
Credible reports have it that Gen Buratai, in some cases, led his troops in the battlefield with resounding victory.
As a patriotic Nigerian who is fully concerned with the happenings on security of our country, it is easy for me to list some of the visible achievements of Lt Gen TY Buratai during the period under review.
1. *Successful war against terrorism*
Despite the asymmetric, complexity and international dimension of the Boko Haram and ISWAP Terrorism (BHT), and the dwindling fortunes of the Nigerian troops in the areas of equipment, motivation and the will to fight, Gen Buratai has within a short time succeeded in reinvigorating troops’ morale and fighting spirit through deliberate multiple dynamic war strategies to keep pace with the mutating nature of terrorism. Thus, it is interesting but not surprising that in less than 6 months the troops recovered lost ground and pushed on to defeat terrorism in our nation.
The NA in collaboration with other security agencies have so far dominated the area of combat and continue to carry out sustained operations against the Boko Haram and ISWAP Criminals.
Similar operations are simultaneously going on intensively in the North Western states of Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto and Zamfara to checkmate banditry activities like kidnapping, cattle rustling, farmers-herders clashes among others.
2. *Improved Internal Security Operations*
Internal security operation in Nigeria has improved dramatically from where we were in 2015 when Gen Buratai took over command of the NA. Before he took over as the army chief, NA was in most cases in the news for abuse of human rights and some professional misconduct such as reckless extortion on the highways, illegal duty and poor dressing among others. These professional malfeasances have been gradually eradicated to the barest minimum through deliberate institutionalized efforts by the COAS. Additionally, on the issue of insecurity in Nigeria, it is obvious that alot of succeses have been achieved in the areas of fighting terrorism in the North East and banditry in North West. Suffice to state that the hitherto identified security threats in the south east, south west and south south have all been effectively checkmated. Security challenges such as farmers – herders conflict, communal conflict, kidnapping, armed robbery, arms sales/arms proliferation, armed robbery and Cultistism as well as violent activities of outlawed secessionist agitators have been checkmated to the level that the hitherto troubled zone is now one of the most peaceful region in Nigeria.
Similarly, in both south south and south west zones, the threats of militancy, kidnapping, sea piracy, illegal oil bunkering and pipeline vandalization have all been brought to the barest points.
Although there are some potent threats that require continuous operational review which the NA under Gen Buratai is working on a regular basis.
3. *Effective Civil-Military Relations As a Force Multiplier in Insurgency War*
As a polyvalent military strategist and war time military Commander, Gen Buratai has since recognized the importance of civil populace in helping to win war against terrorism and banditry activities. He has through various corporate social responsibility/ intervention projects identified the need to assist some selected lucky fluky communities with palliatives and free medical outreaches to help enhance relationship between host communities and the NA in its area of operations. This effort helps tremendously in creating harmonious working relationship between the troops and the locals with the benefit of sharing information that could be of interest and advantage to the success of military operations and the process is ongoing.
Accordingly, the NA is supporting the Government’s efforts at encouraging Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to return to their ancestral homes. To this end, the army under Gen Buratai conducted Operation Last Hold designed to further degrade BHTs, facilitate the relocation of IDPs back to their communities as well as to promote excellent civil-military relations which have so far yielded the desired results and require continous collaborative efforts and supports from relevant stakeholders to consolidate on this achievement.
It is important to state that through Operation Last Hold, over 5,000 IDPs have returned to their communities in Northern Borno State as reported by the media.
5. *Reorganisation of Army towards professionalism*
The NA has so far witnessed a lot of reorganization and injection of modern equipment, platforms and hardwares in a bid to improve the overall operational responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency. It is on record that new divisions and new commands have been created namely 6 Division Portharcourt, 7 Division Maiduguri and 8 Division Sokoto to combat terrorism and the lingering insecurity across the country. Also Special Forces Command, Nigerian Army Women Corps, NA Special Forces Training School in Buni Yadi Yobe State and Cyber Warfare Command among many institutional reforms created by the COAS for the present and indeed more profoundly future benefits of Nigeria.
6. *Enhanced Trainings and Capacity Building for NA Personnel*
Training and retraining of NA personnel is one of the topmost priorities of Gen Buratai. For instance, at an occasion recently, Gen Buratai said – ”In the area of training, we have expanded our in-theater training for troops in the frontlines to afford them the required capabilities to operate and conduct effective operations. Special attention was also given to providing local and foreign training opportunities for all cadre of officers and men.
In the Year 2018 alone, a total of 156 personnel have attended foreign courses while 2,390 have attended courses and training programmes here in Nigeria ranging from masters degree programmes to workshops, seminars and conferences. The NA has also hosted over 300 local and international conferences, seminars or workshops either solely or in-conjunction with other relevant bodies.
7. *Improved welfare packages For Army Personnel*
The provision of adequate health care to NA personnel and their families has continued to remain one of my highest priorities. From January 2018 to date, many officers and soldiers have benefited from the NA Medical Evacuation both within and outside the Country.
As Gen Buratai always states that he might not achieve this remarkable achievements if not for the support and guidance of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ibrahim Dahiru Danfulani is a Kaduna base Journalist and Editor in chief of Gamji Reporters www.gamjireporters.com