By: Tobs Agbaegbu
Verbatim Magazine’s account of the leadership strategies and Success Story of Lt. General Tukur Buratai, COAS, in the raging battle against insurgency in Nigeria in the past five years.
Since April 4, 2020, Tukur Buratai, Lieutenant General and Nigeria’s current Chief of Army Staff, COAS, has been in the theatre of war in the North East of Nigeria. It is from this temporary location that he personally oversees operation and even leads several onslaughts against Boko Haram /ISWAP terrorists in their camps and hideouts in both the North East and North West. From his present location too, he supervises operations against many other insurgency and criminal actions going on in other zones in the country.
Buratai’s strategic move tallies with the military philosophy, as popularized by an American general, Norman Schwarzkopf, who said: “It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle”.
Buratai is leading by example. His war strategy is not too common in Nigeria. But it is paying off handsomely.
Verbatim magazine learnt that on arrival in the North East that fateful day of 4th April 2020, the COAS first interacted with his key field commanders at the Headquarters, Theatre Command, Operation LAFIYA DOLE in Maiduguri. He later embarked on an operational tour to locations traversing Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, where he interacted with officers and soldiers and charged them on the impending task to destroy BH/ISWAP terrorists.
He also visited Army Super Camp 1 at Molai and personally led troops on reconnaissance around Mairi mari Forest located southeast of Tamsu Ngamdua in Mafa LGA of Borno State. He also entered the dreaded Maigilari forest in the East of Tamsu Ngamdu south east of the same Mafa LGA, an area generally seen as the routes and directions of approach into Maiduguri by BH/ISWAP terrorists. He was also at Headquarters, Sector 2 in Yobe state, Special Forces School Buni Yadi, 130 Battalion Goniri all in Yobe state among others.
In all the places he toured, he inspected and assessed the equipment disposition and serviceability of the equipment as well as platforms. He used the opportunity to interact with officers and soldiers as well as gingered them to brace up to end insurgency as quickly as possible.
As a strategy to ensure the defeat of the terrorists, the COAS was also reported to have ensured that new fighting equipment and platforms, gun trucks and additional Special Forces personnel were deployed for patrols, ambushes, attacks on terrorists’ camps, hideouts and crossing points. He also developed a strategy of taking battle to the door steps of the enemy by ensuring that terrorists were effectively blockaded with no freedom of action or movement.
His presence was seen by troops as a huge morale booster which reignited the fighting spirit of the soldiers who cheered him in all the locations he visited. Verbatim learnt that troops, who felt happy with what the COAS put on ground, including sufficient welfare packages for everybody in the frontline of war, were so elated that many promised to take the bullets on his behalf in the face of any attack by the insurgents.
When opportunity came for action, the COAS was not found wanting. Reports indicated that about 150 terrorists were decimated during Buni Gari encounter with Boko Haram in the first week of the reinforced assaults on terror.
Records have it also that between April 2020 and 17 June 2020 alone; one thousand five hundred and four (1,504) terrorists were eliminated in the Northeast Theatre of operation. This was largely because the battle has been taken to their camps, enclaves and hideouts with remarkable successes recorded so far. The BH/ISWAP terrorists were obviously decimated.
This operational feat, of course was attributed to the uncommon leadership and doggedness of the COAS. It was partly also as a result of an audacious, fearless and courageous troop’s disposition that also led to the failed attack on troops at Geidam town which led to the neutralization of 13 terrorists and the recovery of several gun trucks, arms and ammunition.
Buratai is a war hero of sort. Since the past five years when he has been in the saddle as COAS, Buratai, with support of other Service Chiefs and security heads in Nigeria, has been fighting wars to liberate Nigeria from deadly attacks by Boko Haram and other forms of insurgents.
Indeed, for almost a decade now, Nigeria has been bedevilled with a number of contemporary security challenges ranging from terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling, farmers/herders clash, militancy, illegal oil bunkering among other security challenges. At the center of all these is the Nigerian Army prosecuting a military campaign that will curtail the numerous challenges.
Today, at the leadership of the Nigerian Army is Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, the 29th COAS in the annals of history of the Nigerian Army. Born in the sleepy town of Buratai in Borno State, the infantry General has brought his nearly four decades of patriotic military service, holding several appointments in command, instruction and staff, to the fore. As a historian through scholarship and also as a military strategist, he has redefined leadership in contemporary military parlance. His record of accomplishment is numerous.
The COAS is poised to take more drastic action to do more. He has even been presently challenged for an all-out success by a recent statement by the Commander in Chief, Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria. That was after a meeting the President had with Service Chiefs and Heads of Security Agencies at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, June 6, 2020.
Buhari spoke in reaction to death of about 80 people in Borno State, who were killed by Boko Haram soldiers. The defence headquarters (DHQ) had indeed confirmed on June 12, 2020, through the spokesman, Major General John Enenche, that 81 people were recently killed by Boko Haram in Borno state.
Enenche also said 40 people in Katsina were killed by bandits because residents in the area had informed the military about the location of the attackers.
Details of what transpired at the meeting with Service Chiefs and Heads of Security Agencies was communicated to the press by the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd.). Monguno quoted Buhari as telling the security chiefs that he was “extremely unhappy” about the nation’s current security situation under their watch.
The NSA said, “A meeting was just concluded between Mr President and heads of the security agencies; that is the operational heads consisting of the Minister of Defence, the service chiefs and on the other hand, the intelligence component that consists of myself and the intelligence heads.
“Today’s meeting basically focused on recent developments. Mr President has expressed great concern over the declining security situation in the country. He is extremely unhappy about what is happening and he feels that, even though the security agencies are doing their best, their best is not good enough for him and wants an immediate reversal of the current trend and immediate reversal of our misfortunes in all their dimensions.
“Mr President also told us clearly that he and indeed the administration campaigned to power on the platform of three issues: fighting insecurity, overcoming our economic difficulties and dealing with the scourge of corruption.
“More so, he noted that it takes common sense for anyone to understand that without security, the pursuit of the other two campaign promises will just be an exercise in futility.
“He, therefore, warned the security agencies to take into consideration the wider implications of the gradual decent of the security of this country; he is not going to accept any further escalation of the security situation.”
Monguno said Buhari made it clear that none of the security chiefs was forced on him as he selected them based on what he felt their records reveal. He further stated that the President told them that it was left for them to live up to expectations and justify the leadership by not disappointing the populace.
He said Buhari pointed out immediate areas of concern to include the issue of proliferation of drugs, small arms and light weapons, noting that they contribute to banditry and terrorism. “In the final analysis, Mr President has said everyone is doing his best but their best is not good enough. That should send a signal to all of us. But again, it is also incumbent on the wider Nigerian population to key into whatever the security agencies are doing,” he added.
Buratai read the President’s lips. It was a call to immediate action. On June 22, he read the riot act to his field officers. Speaking at a meeting with principal staff officers, General Officers Commanding (GOCs) and field commanders, in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, Buratai explained that he called the meeting to prepare them for actions to change the war narrative in the country.
He said all commanders must be at the battlefield to lead their men from the front and not from their headquarters. His words: “Gentlemen, the President, Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari has renewed his call and desire to end the insecurity in our country. We must heed the call and get it right as quickly as possible.”
Buratai declared that the charge given to us by the C-in-C to redouble our efforts must be fully implemented. “We must end this madness going on in some parts of the country. These criminals and their sponsors and their collaborators, both known and unknown must be flushed out and destroyed”, he ordered.
He further charged the war commanders that: “All hands must be on deck; all commanders must be out in the field and on the ground to lead their men from the front. No commander will sit in his headquarters; everyone will be out and about.
“I want to see an all-encompassing positive change in our operations and security situation in the country. We must all get to work immediately. There is no time for complacency, no time for excuses and there will be no tolerance for shortcomings and failures”.
Verbatim learnt that Buratai and his men discussed wide-ranging security matters, the state of the counter terrorism and other internal security operations in Nigeria. They were said to have also discussed the necessity for commanders, officers and men to redouble their efforts and ensure that all security threats in the country are effectively checkmated.
“The meeting was a full declaration of an all-out war against terrorists and bandits. I have never seen General Buratai in that mood before. The real soldier in him came to the fore and we all ended the meeting with a conviction that the days of insurgents are truly numbered in the country” a top military source told Verbatim.
One of the key decisions also taken at the meeting was to shift the location for Nigerian Army Day Celebration 2020 to Katsina State where insurgents had operated with increased activities in recent months. The idea, a source said, was to use the army day celebration to do a major army exercise to be tagged “Ex Sahel Sanity,” to beef up morale of Nigerian troops in the area.
Since, his appointment in 2015 the COAS has done much to change the narrative in the battle space. As part of his strategy which impacted on the nation’s security, was the leadership he provided to troops in the on-going war against terrorism. He led Nigerian Army, under Operation LAFIYA DOLE, in conjunction with other security agencies, to dominate the operation area and carried out sustained operations against the Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists with resounding victory in many locations and at various times.
One of the most celebrated exploits was when the COAS led troops to flush out insurgents and took over Sambisa Forest in what was a landmark victory in the fight against insurgency in Nigeria. At that operation, the NA and other security agencies not only decimated and degraded the insurgents and their camps but also recovered large cache of arms and ammunitions, as well as gun trucks. The operation also freed thousands of people who were held captives by the insurgents. Among those rescued were elderly men, women and children.
In addition, about 1,240 suspects, several hundreds of Boko Haram collaborators, sympathizers and logistic suppliers were captured in the forests. Similarly, the release of some of the abducted Chibok girls can also be attributed to the efforts of the NA troops in collaboration with other security agencies.
In addition to that feat, there are abundant evidences that thousands of kidnapped victims have been rescued by the troops since the start of counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations in Nigeria.
Equally, through an intelligence-driven operation, the COAS has also ensured that offensive actions using artillery and air force bombardments as well as ambushes were carried out against BH/ISWAP terrorists. This severally led to the successful elimination of terrorists high profile commanders and fighters in many places.
The strategy additionally ensures that a huge number of adversary’s informants, suppliers and collaborators were also identified and neutralized. Besides, it ensures also that logistics supply chain is paralyzed and this is said to have been a major reason leading to the absence of terrorist’s major activities in the Northeast during the period under review.
The major focus of the NA’s reinvigorated onslaught is the speedy and final defeat of Boko Haram/ ISWAP terrorists in Nigeria. The ensuing operations in the last couple of months has sufficiently resonated a sound of victory against these terrorists and their collaborators.
The sustained coordinated ground and air bombardments and attacks, the phobia of the last day of doom for terrorists’ honchos and top commanders’ inches nearer with each passing of the day. It is obvious to the terrorists that their days are numbered and that if the momentum is maintained the end of terrorism in Nigeria is certainly at hand.
Scared to his pants, the formerly “vociferous” factional leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau is pleading for a chance to ceasefire recently. He is pleading to chicken out of the battle for a soft-landing now that his fighters are suffering casualties on the frontlines almost on a daily basis.
Shekau’s only fortress, the Timbuktu triangle in Borno was defeated by troops which prompted him to send emissaries for a ceasefire. There are local and international intelligence sources which reported in the media that Shekau is prepared and so desperate to surrender. He has been making frantic efforts through proxies who have mounted pressures on some International Non-Governmental Organizations to anchor a truce deal with the Nigerian Government towards granting him amnesty.
Also most of his war commanders and fighters are tired, willing to defect or surrender, but are afraid for fear of Shekau’s anger and unsure of humane treatment by the Nigerian security forces if they surrender.
Many other indicators exist indeed to show that Buratai’s strategy is working. Among others, is the fact that the previously haughty, vicious and audacious Abubakar Shekau is not finding his voice again.
Similarly, the momentum and frequency of Shekau’s videos of boastful and horrendous killings of Nigerians have dramatically scaled down. He has also lost the nerve and energy to partake in gruesome operations, preferring to use foot soldiers who have consistently and generously met their waterloo in the hands of Nigerian Army on the battle turf. Shekau has lost top commanders, foot soldiers to the Nigerian military these past years.
Hitherto, Shekau wailed loudly about his declining fortunes in the battle field when he suffered fatal injuries and took refuge in a fisherman’s hut in Amchida in 2013 where he narrowly escaped death by the whiskers. Again, in one of Shekau’s videos’ released in 2017, after he suffered serial defeats, he publicly lamented his frustrations about the inevitable possibility of defeat in the war. In February 2018 video, Shekau who became a fugitive and remained in the cooler for nearly a year, feebly threatened Nigeria by pleading with his foot soldiers to unleash attacks on infidels in major cities of the country like Abuja and Lagos among others. Neither he nor his adherents have been able to execute this threat. Abuja, Lagos and others outside the NE are impregnable.
Not long ago, Shekau again bemoaned publicly how Gen. Buratai was killing them (terrorists), who are Muslims; but claims to be a Muslim. His latest clandestine attempt to surrender himself to the Nigerian authorities is just one of his several demystifications by the Nigerian troops and re-echoes the saying by Williams Shakespeare that “a coward dies many times before his death.” But some Nigerians are of the opinion that Abubakar Shekau’s contemplation of truce and surrender to the Nigerian Government for a possible amnesty deal is a little bit belated. And having abused earlier gestures for a truce and reconciliation, Gen. Buratai appears to be too unyielding thinking that appeasement and mulling ceasefire now is tactically unwise and not in the best interest of Nigeria. Besides, the COAS has renewed his order to his entire field commanders that Abubakar Shekau be captured alive at all cost.
The demystification of Sambisa forest, the Boko Haram’s most dreaded enclave by the NA is a clear indication that the defeat of the terrorists is in sight. At the moment, Gen Buratai and Nigerian troops are out for the final defeat of remnants of Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists despite the recent setbacks in the theatre of operation in Borno State.
Apart from the war against Boko Haram insurgents, troops of the Nigerian Army under the leadership of Gen Buratai also carried out Joint military offensive operations in Niger Delta Region to curb the activities of the militants and illegal oil bunkering. The operation code named Operation DELTA SAFE tackled militant activities in the region which pose serious challenge to Nigerian Economy and security. Troops deployment in the region protects the critical national assets and restored peace and stability in the region which contributed significantly to the growth of the Nigerian economy.
In a bid to holistically address the contemporary security challenges across the country, the COAS launched various exercises and operations. In the South East, Exercise EGWU EKE (PYTHON DANCE) I, II, III and now christened Operation ATILOGWU UDO was launched to checkmate criminal activities. It was also targeted at the activities of the outlawed Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB). The operation is also targeted to contain and deal with cattle rustling, farmers herders clash, cultism, communal conflict among others, together led to arrest of criminals operating in the South East across the Nation and recovery of more than 3,000 assorted arms and more than 170,000 cache of ammunitions in different parts of Nigeria.
Similarly, because of the emerging security threats across the country, the COAS in his own wisdom has on many occasions initiated several army level operations and exercises with the aim to checkmate the security challenges peculiar to those areas. Some of the exercises which dovetailed into operations have fundamentally recorded successes in the areas they were conducted. Some of the operations are; Operation AWATSE in the South West, Operation CROCODILE SMILE in the South South, Operation LAST HOLD in the North East, Operation HADARIN DAJI, Operation HARBIN KUNAMA in the North West. All these have helped and are helping in checkmating banditry, kidnappers, armed robbery and other prevailing and emerging security challenges in different geo-political zones of Nigeria.
The reported elimination of several bandits, reduction in sea pirates, oil bunkerers, armed robbers, piracy, kidnappers, rapists, communal conflicts, farmers-herders clashes and capture of several arms and thousands of assorted ammunitions is to a greater extent the results of these operations and exercises.
It is therefore glaring that the Nigerian Army under the watch of General Buratai is winning the war against insurgency.
It is not all about war that Buratai has been saddled with since he came into office. In 2018, Buratai had taken time to release a more holistic account of his stewardship as COAS. He was barely three years in office then.
In an address at the COAS Annual Conference in Maiduguri, Borno State, North East Nigeria, Buratai said that the Nigerian Army (NA) under his leadership recorded many successes as it has been steadfast in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities as well as providing aid to civil authority. He listed other major achievements of the Nigerian Army under his leadership in the year under review.
The first was a successful war against terror. In the fight against Boko Haram Terrorists (BHT) in the North East, Buratai said the Nigerian Army in conjunction with other Services and security agencies has dominated the area and continues to carry out sustained operations against the Boko Haram. On the nation’s territorial integrity, he continued, “particularly along our land borders has not been breached as we continually maintain a posture to defend Nigeria’s territorial rights and interests. Security relations with our neighbours, Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic has remained relatively calm, except for increased trafficking of small arms and light weapons across the borders among other cross border criminality.
The second area of success he listed was on improved internal security operations. “I am pleased to report that internal security in Nigeria has improved drastically from where we were in 2015 when I took over command of the Nigerian Army. However, we recognize that there are potent threats that require us to continually review our operations. Hence, this conference will deliberate on ways through which the NA can continue to enhance national security,” Buratai said.
He listed the issue of effective civil-military relations as his third area of success. Buratai said: “Over the 2nd and 3rd quarters of the year we also identified the need to support Federal Government’s efforts at encouraging Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to return to their ancestral homes. To this end we conducted Operation Last Hold which was designed to further degrade the BHTs, facilitate the relocation of IDPs to their communities and to promote civil-military relations. By the end of Operation Last Hold, over 5,000 IDPs returned back to their communities in Northern Borno.
The area of support for democracy, and the 2019 elections was also highlighted as a key achievement under General Buratai. He explained: “As the nation moves towards the 2019 General Elections, the Nigerian Army is conducting Operation Safe Conduct to support other security agencies during the period of elections in the country. The NA activated the operation on 14 July 2018 during the elections in Ekiti and Osun states and it was a huge success. We intend to replicate the successes achieved, during the 2019 General Elections.’’
The fifth area of achievements was identified as dealing with reorganisation of Army towards professionalism. Buratai explained that in 2018, the NA witnessed a lot of reorganization and redeployment in a bid to improve our overall operational responsiveness and professionalism. In furtherance, he explained that he approved the redeployment of some field and operational commanders in order to inject new ideas in the command and control structure in various NA operations across the country. “We are also reorganizing to align with some of our current realities. I have directed for a change from a wholly defensive posture to one where we defend in numbers and conduct offensive operations in smaller packets but simultaneously in different fronts,” he said.
More trainings and capacity building for personnel of the NA has also received increased attention under the leadership of Buratai. He gave details of what has been done, thus:
“In the area of training we have expanded our in-theatre 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 cadres of officers and soldiers. In Year 2018 alone, a total of 156 personnel have attended foreign courses while 2,390 have attended local courses and training programmes, ranging from master’s degree programmes to workshops and conferences. The NA has also hosted over 300 local and international conferences, seminars or summits either solely or in-conjunction with other bodies”.
This year too, about 155 officers and soldiers were reported to have been sent to undergo VT4 Main Battle Tank training at the Nigerian Army Armour School, Bauchi, Bauchi State. The personnel are being trained by competent commanders, crewmen, drivers and technicians to boost the counter-insurgency war and other operations in the country.
Under Buratai’s tenure, the Senate Committee on Army commenced a public hearing to consider a bill for the establishment of the Nigerian Army University, Biu (NAUB), Borno State. In his presentation at the public hearing, Buratai told the committee that the establishment of the university would address the critical need for education in different specialised fields. He said the university was positioned to provide academic programmes to counter negative narratives and ideology of the terrorists.
He said the university was one of the Nigerian Army’s efforts in the pursuit of winning the hearts and minds of the society and a remarkable milestone in promoting excellent civil-military relations.
The seventh item in Buratai’s 10 baskets of achievements, as announced in 2018, was on improved welfare packages for soldiers. In that year alone, the COAS revealed that 36 officers, 144 soldiers and 7 family members of personnel benefited in the NA Medical Evacuation, both within and outside the Country. He stated also that twelve patients and twelve escorts were sent to India to receive treatment.
Two other areas that received the COAS attention included issue of enhanced innovation/partnerships in defence industry. He gave the following as details:
“In the course of 2018, we have encouraged and supported all NA officers and soldiers who have innovative ideas and competencies. We have also resumed full collaboration with the Defence Industries Corporation (DICON) for needed parts and small arms and ammunition. Similarly, the NA is partnering with several companies in Nigeria including Innoson Motors, Proforce Limited and Nigeria Machine Tools, among others, towards the production of light and heavy armoured vehicles, critical equipment as well as protective clothing for NA troops. These collaborations have led to the development of the TYB Rover, Infantry Patrol Vehicle (IPV) and the Bionbion Helicopter. We are also
engaging some foreign technical companies and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) to help us repair and refurbish some of our heavier and more delicate platforms.’’
Finally, Buratai revealed that 2018 was a very eventful year for education, R& D platforms, under his leadership. He said: “The Year 2018 has been eventful and my address will not be complete without mentioning some of the new developments that have taken place within the year. The NA established the Nigerian Army Women Corps (NAWC) to develop female officers and soldiers that can be employed in all operational engagements of the NA. The Nigerian Army University Biu (NAUB) has been approved, established and has commenced its academic programmes. The Nigerian Army Vehicle Manufacturing Company (NAVMC) was also established to support our strides in vehicle manufacturing. The NA has also commenced direct training for personnel to acquire sufficient knowledge and communication skills in the 3 major Nigerian languages to better fit in anywhere they may be deployed. The NA has also established the first ever Cyber Command. The Command will effectively tackle the fake news against the NA, the country and also secure our cyber domain from hostile elements.”
As a good administrator, Buratai did not hide the fact that the army under his leadership also faced challenges and setbacks. Some of the challenges were listed to include the recent setback in Metele and insinuations of human rights abuses.
In furtherance, he announced the establishment of Human Rights Desk offices in all NA formations for speedy attention to human rights allegations. The Chief of Army Staff while expressing his gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for his support to the Nigerian Armed Forces in general and to the NA in particular pledged a total commitment to the defence of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He assured that the NA will continue to remain apolitical, professional and responsive in the discharge of its constitutional roles.
On account of his leadership style and achievements recorded in the five years he has been on the hot seat as COAS, Buratai has received commendations from various quarters. Philip Agbese, an author, publisher and public affairs commentator praised him for doing a good job, in an article he wrote and published in Vanguard newspaper and other media platforms.
Agbese did an analysis of the security situation before and during the tenure of President Buhari. His views largely fall in tandem with many Nigerians who have expressed the feeling that the Buhari administration and COAS, Buratai deserve kudos and not condemnations.
Agbese summed up his views thus: “Today, we feel more convenient to blame the President for resurgent insecurities. Others with narrow-mindedness even campaign for the removal of Service Chiefs as panacea to end the country’s insecurities. We have forgotten yesterday and interpret today based on idiosyncrasies far detached from reality. We hate to remember our collective failure to complement the role of the military in the fight against insurgency. Many have not and are still not doing their jobs or rather clandestinely assisting the armed enemies of Nigeria to thrive over us. It includes even some persons in the lower rung of leadership. But we gleefully look elsewhere for scapegoats.
“The Chief of Army Staff and the Nigerian troops haven’t failed us. President Buhari hasn’t failed in his covenant with Nigerians. Some other persons within the system must own up that they have failed in the discharge of their duties basically because we prefer to look at the interest of Nigeria from our peculiarly faulty lenses.’’
Mike Msuaan, a Kaduna based Public Affairs Analyst shares the opinion of Agbese. Delving into history, Msuaan noted that “since 2009, when the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists originated in Borno state, lives, properties and destruction of inestimable proportion has been recorded. Life has not been the same in the state and a large percentage of North East geopolitical zones. Sometime ago, the sect occupied local government areas in Borno state and foisted their way of life and flags signifying total conquest and capture of such territories.’’
He observed that Gen. Buratai assumed office in July 2015, at the time the country was bedevilled with a preponderance of insecurity, ranging from the youth restiveness in the Niger Delta, the dreaded Boko Haram/ ISWAP in the North East, armed banditry and the herders and farmers clashes in the North Central geo political zone posed a very difficult time for the country requiring a firm and thorough bred force led by a well groomed, dedicated and experienced leader.
“At the time Lt Gen TY Buratai took over the reins of the NA, Boko Haram/ ISWAP attacks were almost been accepted as normal occurrences all over the country. It was becoming strange to wake up and not hear news of Boko Haram ransacking a community or bombing a place, killing and maiming innocent Nigerians.’’
He stated that with the appointment of Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai as Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and leader of the counter-insurgency operations, many who knew him heaved a sigh of relief. “Gen. Buratai parades excellent credentials in such warfare. Gen. Buratai had led the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF). As such this was a familiar terrain,” he said.
Looking at the achievements, the renowned writer stated that “Gen. Buratai, faced the war against terror with the disposition of a no nonsense combatant, clearing and establishing military formations in territories hitherto occupied by the insurgency. He quickly realized that to win the war, a strong and professional army was mandatory. He understood the danger of fighting with a demoralized army. Gen. Buratai introduced several measures to boost the morale and welfare of the army.’’
He stated also that Buratai, having studied the strategy of the terrorists who descend on motor bikes in a guerrilla style and not the usual conventional war approach to attack identified spots retooled the troops with Motor Bike battalion to forestall attacks from the terrorists. This battalion, he said, uses the same asymmetric warfare employed by the insurgents and added capacity and ability to move swiftly and reducing the BokoHaram/ISWAP attacks to isolated soft targets.
In his conclusion, Msuaan stated that Gen. Buratai has demonstrated leadership by abandoning the comfort of his office in Abuja to join the troops at the war front and lead the war himself. “This will not only boost the morale of the troops but will further enhance proper coordination of intelligence, logistics and man power to finally clear and destroy the remnants of the terrorists and their hideouts. He has maintained that Insurgency has ended, that BHT has been technically defeated but terrorism will still persist as in any other country that has experienced it. For example, Colombia that experienced over 50 years terrorism still experiences pockets of terrorist acts going on. The same thing with the Middle East”.
Emmanuel Onwubiko, National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), an NGO has also written elaborately in support of Buratai.
In an opinion he expressed in a column he maintains online, Onwubiko wrote : “Giving the significant depletion of forces of terror even amidst administrative cum bureaucratic constraints since the last four years, the current Chief of Army staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai cannot be written off totally but needs to be supported massively and if possible assigned a mandatory time-line with which to decisively bring to a manageable level the violent attacks by elements identified as either affiliated to the Islamic state or the Boko Haram terrorists. The Nigerian central government should also end the practice of releasing into the open society, arrested and detained fighters of Boko Haram terrorists in the guise that they are repentant or de-radicalised but must prosecute and punish terrorists to serve as effective deterrent”.