Nigeria’s sovereignty and the exemplary leadership of the Nigerian Army

Nigeria’s army boss, Lt. Gen. Buratai


By Esther Okpabi

The security architecture in Nigeria is such that it revolves around the operations of the Nigerian Army. I say this for the simple fact that since 2015, and with the advent of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian Army has indeed risen to the occasion in times too numerous to mention with innovations and operations that have always restored peace around the country.

I am one of those in the school of thought that posits that, but for the present commitment of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, as well as the Chief of Army Staff, Nigeria would have disintegrated in line with the doomsday predictions of 2015. But the sheer commitment of these individuals altered the equation, and Nigeria is united today.

I must add that in the annals of the country, there hasn’t been a time that the Nigerian Army has been stretched thin like this period, with operations running simultaneously across the country, including the Boko Haram/ISWAP conflict in North-East Nigeria. The truth is that one wonders how the Nigerian Army has been able to combine all of these operations of protecting the territorial integrity of Nigeria without fail.

It is, therefore, my considered opinion that one of the early gifts that President Muhammadu gave Nigerians was the choice of Service Chiefs who were mandated to hit the ground running in ensuring that the various security challenges facing the country are addressed. This is also on the heels that Nigeria was on the brinks and with a military that had been overwhelmed by the myriad of challenges confronting it, which was occasioned by the selfish and lackadaisical attitude of the then political and military authorities towards the unity of Nigeria.

That period was indeed free for all endeavours that saw the misappropriation of funds meant for critical military operations as well as the welfare of the fighting troops in North-East Nigeria. So the consequent result was an upsurge in the activities of Boko Haram terrorists till they took control of over 16 local government areas in North-East Nigeria.

We must agree that since the coming of the present administration and the operational strategies deployed by the various services of the Armed Forces, the security architecture in Nigeria indeed experienced a considerable facelift. Worthy of mention is the exploits of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, who has been described in various quarters as the war legend of our time due to the way and manner he has led the fighting troops in confronting the Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorist and other militant groups in Nigeria.

It is indeed not an understatement to state that but for the efforts of the Nigerian Army, militant groups such as the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) would have caused maximum damage to the sovereignty of Nigeria. But again, the Nigerian Army under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai was able to nip in the bud their nefarious activities.

The exploits of the Nigerian Army under Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai has never been in short supply. This also explains the encomium that has been showered on him from home and abroad for exemplary leadership in the operations of the Nigerian Army in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria. For example, the Nigerian Army was honoured with the Certificate of Professionalism by the International Human Rights Commission Geneva, Switzerland, jointly with the Committee of Foreign Observers, for its efforts at protecting Human Rights during the just concluded 2019 general elections in Nigeria.

Again, sometime in 2017, the Chief of Army Staff was given the Presidential Award for Excellence for his determined war against the Boko Haram insurgents by the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM). Reading a citation at the award ceremony, the NIM stated that “In less than two years of Lt. Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai becoming the Army Chief of Staff, the tide has changed to much safer northeast and thereby restoring confidence in the Nigerian Army as a reliable agent for National Security.”

“Many of the captured and deserted cities and towns were recovered and normalcy gradually restored. This rare feat could not have been possible without the intervention of Lt. Gen. Buratai, who, upon the assumption of duty, swiftly demonstrated his leadership skills and military prowess coupled with patriotic zeal, to tackle headlong, the nefarious activities of the insurgents, which threatened our national cohesion.”

You must agree with me that the above citation aptly describes the level of life the Chief of Army Staff has been able to inject in the operations of the Nigerian Army since he assumed leadership. Would you consequently have been surprised by the fact that also, the Chief of Army Staff, was conferred with the highest military award in Brazil?

The Brazilian military order of merit award, which is the highest military honour in the country, is awarded to military officers, who had distinguished themselves in various military endeavours. According to citation at the occasion, the award was in recognition of Buratia’s exemplary and world’s recognized leadership qualities and the Nigerian Army’s effort in the fight against terrorism and insurgency. And this is no fluke.

The Nigerian Army has indeed risen to the occasion in the fight against terrorism. As such, it behoves on all well-meaning Nigerians to give it that support in its quest towards defeating the last evil standing, which is the Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorist group.

I can go on non-stop on the exemplary leadership of the Nigerian Army in protecting the sovereignty of Nigeria. And in all of these, one thing stands out; the rare display of an unflinching commitment by the Chief of Army Staff towards protecting the territorial integrity of Nigeria has been the magic wand. And if the truth must be told, if this has been the case before the advent of the present administration, the Boko Haram crisis would have been long over.

Be that as it may, the leadership of the Nigerian Army has been able to reclaim the lost glory of the Nigerian Army and indeed sent many merchants of death hovering over Nigeria out of business. Those whose stock in trade is to cause ethnic and religious division in the country have also been sent out of business with the renewed commitment of the Nigerian Army in protecting the sovereignty of Nigeria.

This is indeed commendable, and it consequently behoves on those holding sensitive positions of authority in Nigeria to take a cue from the exemplary leadership as exhibited by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai. Nigeria shall be indeed great again.

Okpabi wrote from the New Nile University, Abuja.