“We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.” Winston Churchill
I am writing this piece, not on the strength of ethnicity or religion, but a firm conviction of the true Nigerian spirit. As an officer of the Nigerian Army and from the South Eastern part of Nigeria, I say with all confidence that the Nigerian Army has never had it so good like in the past four years.
I recall with nostalgia when President Muhammadu Buhari was elected president of our great country. Those of us in the theatre of operations in North East Nigeria heaved a sigh of relief because we were down casted and delusional with the level of rot in the Nigerian Army as it were. We lacked on all front so much so that so many of us went AWOL (Absent without leave). And were happy that at least a general that understand our critical constituency is now on-board the leadership of the country and luck might as well smile on us.
It was a dire situation we were in. We regularly lost soldiers and officers because the military hierarchy then was clueless on the way forward. To make matters worse, they fed fat from the lapses in the system. They built castles in odd places to the extent that Nigeria was on the verge. The professionalism in the military was sacrificed on the altar of material acquisition and at the expense of our collective interest as a country.
The country was bleeding to the point of death. Our commanders were more interested in their pockets than in the country. They looted and looted like the world was coming to an end. But God, in his infinite mercies, came to our rescue on two fronts. One was the election of President Muhammadu Buhari and the subsequent appointment of Lt Gen TY Buratai as Chief of Army Staff.
God bless that day Lt Gen TY Buratai was appointed as Chief of Army Staff. I recall the uproar of excitement that greeted the appointment. Some of us in the frontlines were still with mixed feelings thinking that it would be business as usual given our experience. But we were wrong. We were incredibly wrong in the sense that Lt Gen Buratai hit the ground, running with innovative policies and ideas suitable for unconventional warfare. The departure from the norm was radical and it paid off handsomely.
I recall that the first briefing that he had with us in the North East was more of a psychological meal that filled every part of our bosom. He enumerated his plans as the commander and the need for us his lieutenants to see ourselves as critical stakeholders in the Nigerian cause. His words were piercing and loud. We saw the commitment and sincerity in his words, which was subsequently corroborated by his actions as the Chief of Army Staff in the years ahead.
That the Nigerian Army was able to make substantial gains in a record time didn’t happen by magic. It didn’t happen overnight, but rather a conscious effort that was laced with two things: passion and dedication. And guess what. Lt Gen TY Buratai infected us with this mind-set. He charged us to see ourselves as Nigerians as a first before our religious and ethnic affiliations. And this strategy paid out tremendously.
Regardless of what anyone thinks or say, the Chief of Army Staff is a legend and one gifted with the art of bringing out the best of the troops in the battlefront. He has demonstrated a capacity and steadfast loyalty to Nigeria. And this much was imbibed in the bulk of the Nigerian Army. To think that upon assumption of office as Chief of Army Staff he was able to make a tremendous impact on the morale of the troops is an indication of his worth and his commitment to leaving a positive effect on the operations of the Nigerian Army.
Lt Gen TY Buratai is indeed a soldier’s soldier. He understands what it meant to be infantry. And he also understood what it takes to keep the morale of the troops high. And guess what? The Nigerian Army is better for it. And for once, I felt proud of wearing the khaki of the Nigerian Army.
My despair turned to hopes. I was eager to be a part of the preservation of the territorial integrity of Nigeria. My enthusiasm was rekindled that I renewed my pledge to Nigeria my country, to be faithful, loyal, and honest, to serve with all my might and uphold her unity and glory. And God has helped me. Just like many others of my colleagues.
As an Army officer, I know penning this article might be against the rules of public engagement , but again the truth must be told at all times. If a fraction of Nigerians would come to terms with the personality of Lt Gen TY Buratai, they would indeed know that in service to fatherland, ethnicity or religion has no place. And like I mentioned earlier, been an officer of South East extraction I should know better, and this has culminated in this article stating that the services of Lt Gen Tukur Buratai are still needed in the Nigerian Army for apparent reasons.
His grasps of the issues as it concerns warfare is legendary. He also knows the place of keeping his troops psychologically active by the routine visit he pays to the battlefront. Imagine that the Chief of Army staff is with you in the trenches clutching an AK47 rifle just like you and eating from the same pot. It’s not imaginary. It is what Lt Gen TY Buratai represents.
Make no mistakes; I know the consequences of my actions. I am grounded with extant military rules on the implication of contributing to a discourse in the public space. But the need to give an insider account on how well the Nigerian Army has fared under Lt Gen TY Buratai is undebatable.
I say this because as a Captain in the Nigerian Army, I command a company, and I interact closely with the soldiers. If this article is then considered as praise singing, I wonder what would be said if the soldiers in the battlefront are allowed to air their appreciation and excitement. It would indeed be a medley of praises.
I can go on non-stop to my chief. But I guess with the little I have been able to scribble, Nigerians indeed now have an idea on my Chief, the Lt Gen TY Buratai and also come to the realization that we sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us. Need I say more? We still need Lt Gen TY Buratai and more of his leadership to keep leading the Nigerian Army. And this is with love from the trenches.
AO Ude wrote this piece from Monguno, north-east Nigeria