By Esther Okpabi
Nerve-cracking and heart-rending internal insurrections around Nigeria have pepped up anxieties, pains and sorrows. It has intensified tensions, fear and a frightening feeling of insecurity among the citizenry. Nigeria had lived with this sickening bug and internal servitude for years.
President Muhammadu Buhari was not just worried about this ugly trend, as a passive participant in government, but it was the reason he sought leadership serially to free Nigeria from these chains. He has actually proved repeatedly that evil doers, detractors, violence-prone criminals can never hold Nigeria and Nigerians to ransom.
Therefore, Mr. President’s tightened his security architecture, sufficiently beefed it with crack officers, at all strata. And they have never disappointed the nation on any assigned assignment.
Topmost among President’s Buhari’s security henchmen is the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai. His wittiness on security, imbibed through years of sustained orientation in military intelligence, compelled President Buhari to decorate him leader of the counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria. An assignment he has used to diligently prove his mettle as a son of a World War 2 Legend.
The job of leading internal counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria may sound easy and simple to many ears. But it is indubitably very complex. The textures of insurrections in Nigeria itself are very complex. From terrorism, ethno-religious crisis, armed banditry and cattle rustling, to herders/farmers clashes to violent separatists movements are in a reality hard nuts to crack.
And only a man of uncommon military ingenuity and wisdom, like Buratai has been able to effectively surmount these national violent upheavals. He does it, without bruising the national spirit of cohesion or unity and still succeeding where some of his predecessors failed unapologetically.
So far, Gen. Buratai has played the game with splendor, leading troops to emerge from every special assignment/ engagement with Nigerians, much better than the preceding task. And today, Gen. Buratai has berthed in Benue state and launched another very significant operation dubbed, “Operation Ayem A Kpatema,” ( translated in Tiv vernacular to mean, Cat Race).
The “Cat Race” is contrived to bury the rampaging ghosts of herders/farmers conflicts, armed militias, kidnapping, cattle rustling and other forms of armed banditry in the Middle Belt region.
It is unarguable that Gen. Buratai knows the nitty-gritty of military operations, leadership and civil/military relations. All these talents are embedded in him, added to an amazing strength, manifest in his amazing workaholic tendencies.
He knows the art of the assorted brands of war and very familiar with it, like his fingertips. He defrays every task effortlessly. That’s why in military circles, he is adorned as Nigeria’s modern- day military strategist and tactician, only in the mould of the likes of the famed Mao Tse of China, America’s Collin Luther Powell and even in Nigeria, what Gen. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau was to the international intelligence community.
The successes he has recorded in the dozen internal operations within Nigeria, in a span of two years loudly attest to these enviable credentials. Yet, he keeps towering higher and pleasantly at every step he steps, in spite of his age.
Gen. Buratai’s latest operation is designed to cover Benue, Taraba, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa, and Niger states. At the launch of Operation Ayem A Kpatema (OpsAAK) at LGEA Primary school, Mbabegha, Gbajimba, Guma LGA , the vintage Gen. Buratai said; “We shall ensure full application of the rules of engagement . We shall not tolerate any act that will jeopardize the peace in this area. … we are not targeting any ethnic or religious groups, we are targeting criminals.”
The utterances deflate any negative sentiments about its operations and projects a military committed to a rescue mission of a part of its country under bondage. Therefore, stepping out of Benue Peoples House, Makurdi, where he paid a courtesy on State Governor Samuel Ortom, his gait, countenance, and utterances depicted a leader who is constantly abreast with the intricacies of any assignment he embarks upon.
Gen. Buratai exuded the personality of the Afro-American military strategist and diplomat, Gen. Collin Luther Powell. No doubt that he endearingly reminds of Collin Powell’s philosophy,” which dictates that a “If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity, then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed.”
Much more, Gen. Buratai’s portrait, now and always strikes the image of the revered national and internationally respected retired Army General and intelligence Chief, Gen. Aliyu Gusau jocularly referred to as a “spy master, Gen. Gusau was courted home and abroad, by an array of the intelligence community for his exceptional adroitness and competencies in performing and delivering positive results on impossible assignments.
Gusau held several sensitive intelligence positions in Nigeria, serving four Presidents, spanning over two decades of his active service to the extent, he earned the epaulet of protector of the state. Both within and outside Nigeria, Gen. Gusau was feted with rare recognitions, honours and awards. It runs from the Republic of Korea, Germany, to South Africa and Ethiopia, Gen. Gusau was celebrated with these countries highest honours.
The current Army Chief has seamlessly stepped into this hall of fame in military circles within Nigeria and the international community, Gen. Buratai’s performances have bulldozed him into an international figure for defeating the obstinate terrorism in Nigeria. He is a silent hero, but worshipped for quietly dissolving the venom of other emerging acts of terrorism and insurrections to lubricate the cord of peace, unity and progress in Nigeria.
The Republic of Brazil could not hold its breath and awarded this rare gem with its highest military honour. Profound accolades have continued to resonate from world leaders and countries on Nigeria for its nifty handling of Boko Haram terrorism. Buratai is just the unsung hero in many of such instances.
What everybody must acquaint himself is that Gen. Buratai’s fruitful outings in the multiple warfare around Nigeria is not by happenstance, but a function of his innate military strategies and tactics, laced in hard work and dedication. Above all, he imbibes and religiously applies the “Powell Doctrine,” in all instances of conflicts to maximize success and minimize casualties in all internal operations, exemplified by Powell’s Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and others.
Like Collin Powell, Gen. Buratai believes that “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work. Therefore, it was not unusual that a week after he told his biological father goodbye , he moved to Benue to continue with work, by launching the Operation Ayem A Kpatema. Some other lazy leaders would have taken a month’s break to mourn and especially, as Mr. President hold this assignment dear to his heart.
And true to his modus operandi, the arrival of Gen. Buratai and his troops in Benue state alone has changed the narrative ecstatically. Their mere presence, and shadows in some of the communities, a few days ago, which have been flashpoints of violence, all manner of violent attacks have suddenly vanished. Yet, the master strategist and tactician is just commencing this special exercise in the region and as usual medical outreach to first win the minds of the people.
So, jubilation has taken over the nooks and crannies of Benue state and echoing beyond defiantly. A new dawn of fresh air of freedom has quaked in many villages, expressed in pubs, offices, village gatherings and social media. The entrapped people are aware, if the bandits can overpower regular security, especially, the Police, its impossible with soldiers under Gen. Buratai.
Certainly, the die is certainly cast for the armed criminals and like the COAS reminded, soldiers would perform this assignment with absolute compliance with Rules of Engagement (ROE) and international best practices for which the Nigerian Army is famed in recent times.
Together, Gen. Buratai and Gov. Ortom, Benue’s Chief Security officer would work harmoniously and assiduously to restore peace and order in the troubled Benue and beyond. It’s an assurance that has never failed anywhere in Nigeria, where Gen. Buratai sets his foot.
The soldiers would release the cats against the nocturnal rats or criminals in a race of restoration of sanity. And surely, the rats would certainly be trapped and holed for prosecution. Previous such operations under Buratai have ample testimonies of successes all over Nigeria.
Its important Nigerians must understand that Gen. Buratai’s creed and anthem is all about how to make Nigeria better on security, peace and progress. So, without mincing words, Gen. Buratai by every nuance of assessment, remains the best and finest military strategist and tactician Nigeria has not seen for a long time.
Gen. Buratai deploys his natural military endowments to make Nigerians dwell in peace, security and respect for the sanctity of human life. And so, like Powell, Gen. Buratai, “Never neglect details….” and believes, “When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.”
Okpabi wrote from the Dept. of Peace and Conflict Resolution, Nile University of Nigeria, Abuja.