Since he assumed command of Nigeria’s counterinsurgency operations, especially in the troubled North East flank of the country, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Yusuf Tukur Buratai has led his officers and men to achieve great success in its mandate. We recall that Buratai’s mission to the North East theatre of the war against Boko Haram was initially bathed with large-scale criticisms and doubts given the lapses his predecessors as COAS had manifestly displayed. No doubt, the then soaring profile of the insurgents got to such intimidating height that not many observers gave Buratai any chance to succeed. But apparently the COAS was conscious of the fact that a leader’s history of successes and failures makes a big difference in his credibility. He might also have been aware of the fact that to build trust, a leader must manifest the fine qualities of compe tence, connection and character. Against the foregoing backdrop, we note that while people will forgive occasional mis takes based on ability, especially if they can see that you’re still grow ing as a leadet they won’t certainly forgive lapses by a supposedly experienced leader in the mould of the current COAS. For instance, as at May 29, 2015 when it came to power, the Muhammadu Buhari administration that is, the fear of Boko Ha ram, the terrorist organiza tion which had crippled economic and social activities in the North East geopolitical zone was the beginning of wis dom. To stem the tide of this men ace, President Buhari announced the relocation of Army Headquar ters from Abuja to Maiduguri, the theatre of war. This was indubitably based on the necessity to intensify the fight against the terrorists. In fact, through alleged official negli gence, conspiracy or collusion of the past administration, Boko Haram became a terrifying force taking tens of thousands of lives, destroy ing property worth billions of naira and capturing several towns and vil lages thereby rendering hundreds of thousands of Nigerians homeless. Current nagging fallouts of all that is the millions is Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, many now confined to official camps. Consequently, Lieutenant Gen eral Tukur Yusuf Buratai, the 26th Chief of Army Staff (COAS) who was appointed on July 13, 2015, galvanized himself and swung into ac tion. Launching his campaign on an enduring philosophy and vision of an army which could inculcate the ideals of discipline, professionalism, esprit de corps and hardwork, Bura tai told his officers, rank and file that his administration would instill and imbibe the ideals of a professionally responsive army which must have respect for and be loyal to the con stitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Under him and in just two years, renewed vigour and a rare sense of direction have been introduced to the Nigerian Army. Aside from a potent manifestation of profession alism amongst the rank and file and the officers Corp, there is a high de gree of human rights observance in the army. Also, there is a monumen tal degree of infrastructural devel opment across all the formations of the Nigerian Army. There is, indeed, a remarkable increase in the Army equipment
holdings and improved maintenance culture. The army is no more on the defensive, as the organization now defines the terri tory of combat and the battle taken to the doorsteps of the aggressors. Under Buratai the Nigerian Army is a consummate praetorian guard of the nation’s inviolability. As a practical leader, Buratai trav els to war fronts in the North East to pray and felicitate with his highly motivated troops during Eid-elFitr. During Christmas, he visited several units and formations, and personally assessed their operations. Through specific directives, he pro actively addressed some of the iden tified challenges of the troops. This is how it should be. Using the tem plate tagged Operation “Lafiya dole”, the Nigerian Army, under his com mand, has identified the challenges in the dynamics of modern warfare which requires constant innovation, research, intelligence gather ing mechanism, advancement of technology and the building of local capacity. In consequence, therefore, the COAS set in motion a deliber ate programme for the immediate repair and refitting of all the abandoned and unserviceable weapons and equipment in the Army inven tory. As at date, no fewer than 178 ar moured fighting vehicles of various types are completely refurbished by the Army electrical and mechanical engineers at various workshops across the country. This has put paid to the over-reliance on foreign equipment and spares which was a huge setback in the immediate past. In fact, what the Army could not achieve in 30 years has been achieved within two years of Gen. Buratai in the saddle as Chief of Army Staff. Expectedly, this feat has attracted odium from his detractors who have repeatedly tried to haul mud on him. But he has refused to be distracted by such invidious campaign of cal umny and media trials. Rather, he has kept his head above waters cul minating in the recent victory of our gallant troops over the Boko Haram insurgents. A man of few words, Buratai blended words with actions, and by December 2015, barely five months into his appointment, Boko Haram was technically decimated leading to their recent total defeat in December 2016. Unarguably, the last vestiges of the Boko Haram in surgency were displaced from the Sambisa Forests at “Camp Zero”. The gallant Nigerian troops also dismantled the official flag of the terrorists and have liberated nearly 20 local government areas hitherto seized by the anarchists. An accomplished senior infantry officer who was commissioned in 1983 and has had multiple com mand, administrative and institu tional appointments in his 34 year illustrious military career, Buratai gained admission into the presti gious Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna as a member of the 29 Regular Combatant Course on January 3, 1981. A highly decorated senior military officer with several local and international awards, Gen. Buratai has a barrage of both military and academic qualifications and has served in various military formations in Nigeria. As he marks his second year as Chief of Army Staff, and the 154th anniversary of the founding of the Nigerian Army, we wish him greater successes ahead for the overriding greatness of Nigeria and Nigerians.