The success story of the Nigerian Army under Lt. Gen. Yusuf Buratai.
On 29th May 2015 at the Eagle Square in Abuja, when President Muhammadu Buhari was taking oath of office, the fear of Boko Haram was simply described as the beginning of wisdom.
Nigerian Army Chief if Army Staff Lt.Gen.Tukur Yusuf Buratai addressing the Press at Army Headquarters in Abuja.
But determined to reverse the trend,the president announced that the theatre command of the Nigerian Army was to be relocated to Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.
The reason behind this order was strategic.
It was built on the absolute necessity to intensify the fight against Boko Haram insurgency since it was impossible to achieve victory against the insurgents if the command continued to operate from Abuja.
Through official negligence, complacency or collusion, of the past administration, Boko Haram became a terrifying force taking tens of thousands of lives and capturing several towns and villages.
But in the instruction, the command center was to remain in Maiduguri until the insurgents were subdue
The army was charged to go after the insurgents with full force but ensure that, in the course, human rights are jealously guarded.
Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, the 26th Chief of Army Staff (COAS) was appointed to the prestigious position by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 13th July, 2015.
Immediately, he got himself galvanised into action.
He addressed the gallant officers and men of the force, during which the unflagging COAS emphasised that he was going to preside over an army whom,he was going to ensure inculcate the ideals of discipline, professionalism,es’pirit-de corp and hard work.
In line with his vision which is to have a professionally responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional roles, the force has achieved so much in protection of human rights, dedication of the officers and soldiers in the renewed efforts to combat the security challenges.
Under him renewed vigour and rare sense of direction was introduced into the Nigerian army and modus operandi.
Noticeably, the standard of training,innovations, discipline, excellent civil-military relations and involvement in internal security in aid to civil authority and peace support operations have taken a dimension never anticipated.
In fact, Buratai himself has been widely reported to have announced that,the high level of infrastructural development across all formations and units of the Nigeria Army is heart-warming. This period has witnessed remarkable increase in the Nigeria Army equipment holdings and improved maintenance culture since his assumption of office.
Comprehensively, the era of waiting in defensive position for criminals to come and attack and run away abruptly came to a stop. The war against terrorists in the north-east and other incoherent practices in other parts of the country saw the battle taken to those who declared war against the nation.
In the battle line, the Nigerian army adopted offensive disposition and responds quickly and appropriately to all situations, taking int cognisance the dedicated rules of engagement. To form international alliances, Buratai embarked on a visit to the Colombian National Army and the Bangladesh Army facilities.
He got his mind broadened into the horizon of the force on areas of cooperation and collaborations with the two countries in the current fight against terrorism. The strategy to deal with the Boko Haram terrorism is pursued by action rather than talking. Buratai changed the code name for the war on terror from “Operation Zaman Lafiya” (live in peace) to “Operation Lafiya Dole”(peace by force) signalling his determination to attain peace by force in the North East.
Today, acts of indiscipline or cowardice from any soldier are rare while proactive and quick response is deployed to promptly address distress calls. Closely complementing this effort is the Nigerian Air Force’s (NAF)operation code-named ‘Operation Gama Aiki’, (finish the job) which helped routed out Boko Haram terrorists from the troubled area that borders Chad and Niger republic.
The NAF became an integral part of the counter-insurgency operation and a follow-up to Operation Crackdown whose joint operation saw the takeover of Sambisa Forest and other former Boko Haram strongholds.
The COAS travelled to the northeast to celebrate last year’s Eid-el-Fitr prayers with troops in the frontlines.
During Christmas, he visited several units and troops, interacted with them and personally assessed the operations. Some of the identified challenges in the frontlines were proactively addressed through specific directives.
‘Lafiya dole’ sent a strong and final warning signal to the terrorists that they cannot derail the wheel of peace in the north-east or any part of Nigeria. The army under Buratai’s command has recognised the changes in the dynamics of modern warfare which requires constant innovation, research and advancement in technology, and is prepared to develop local capacity for an enduring research and innovation process that would enhance its operations.
Consequently, he set in motion a deliberate programme for the immediate repair and refitting of all the abandoned and unserviceable weapons and equipment in the Nigerian Army inventory, using local resources.
About 178 armored fighting vehicles of various types were completely refurbished by Nigerian Army electrical and mechanical engineers at various workshops across the country. More so, experience in the Northeast and other theatres of operation helped the country to draw useful lessons which have shaped the ongoing transformation process of the Nigerian Army, aimed at developing and sustaining the right combat power for professionally responsive force.
Over-reliance on foreign equipment and spares which was a huge setback in the initial stages of operations was identified and handled. All these achievements were not gotten on the platter of gold and silver.
The military suffered some level of casualties. During this period too,those who appear to had benefited from the old order embarked on a false and blatant campaign of calumny against Buratai. He kept his head up and that has led to the victory over terror we are witnessing today.
The last victory of the Nigerian Army over the terrorists marks the completion of the circle of cleansing of Nigeria of all traces of terrorism. Suffice it to state that, by stepping out on this national assignment, Buratai blended his words with action, by applying his ingenuity in military warfare to battle terrorists. And by December 2015, Boko Haram terrorists were not only decimated, but technically defeated in partial fulfilment of his promise.
Now, terrorists could no longer freely unleash their lethal weapons in bombing motor parks, shopping malls, mosques, churches, schools, hospitals,banks, markets and offices in Abuja, the Northeast and other parts of the North. They could no longer annex Nigerian territories and declare these areas Boko Haram “Islamic Caliphate.”
Rather, Nigerian soldiers reclaimed the nearly 20 LGAs and communities in the Northeast, severed from Nigeria and held hostage by the terrorists.
On December 22 2016, the last component of the Boko Haram insurgency from the Sambisa Forest were displaced at the “Camp Zero”. The gallant troops also dismantled the official Boko Haram terrorists’ flag signifying the capture of the insurgents’ headquarters.
The fall of dreaded Sambisa is a major milestone in the fight against insurgency no doubt.