By Israel Abiodun
Life is sweeter when people or the institutions are accorded recognition or appreciated by others based on merit or excellence. It is more fun and it invokes a justified feeling of haughtiness and fulfillment, when such accolades to anyone or institution comes from leaders of nations.
Men who lead nations are usually known for an inclination of dissatisfaction with everything, especially the performance of those under their supervisory jurisdiction. To impress them, one has to work extremely hard. It explains their reluctance to dish out praises to people under their supervision. It is a once in a while thing.
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria is one such leader, extremely hard to impress to the extent of attracting his public acknowledgement on one’s performance. Buhari’s global acclaimed integrity and incorruptibility sets benchmarks which makes it very difficult for those working under him to satisfy. People strive very hard, but only end up groaning, instead of a presidential appreciation from Buhari.
But in a rare and natural flow of unrestrained emotions of thankfulness and appreciation, President Buhari bashed the armed forces of Nigeria with praises in his October 1, 2016 Independence Day speech. The President was full of joy and happiness that the Nigerian military, which is just on institution, from the over 500 such bodies in Nigeria have proven to be the conspicuous shadows and narratives of the success story of his administration. His constant lamentations about the judiciary in his quest to rid the country of corruption in Nigeria is worthy of reference.
Those who know the person in President Buhari would easily concede that he is an all-rounder and a personality difficult to gratify, especially in leadership. In his life-time, Buhari has been a minister, former military Head of State, a veteran soldier and now, a civilian president of Nigeria. Experiences from these areas of service to the nation make him prone to such tendencies.
In essence, no experience of leadership demand in Nigeria that is strange to him. He knows when subordinates fail or do not meet expectations in the tasks assigned to them. But in spite of this disposition, Buhari could not uphold his pride on the Nigerian military.
And pouring his songs of praise on the institution, on a day celebrated symbolically, as Nigeria’s day of liberation from the fangs of colonialism, implies Buhari’s deep appreciation of their role in curtailing terrorism or insurrection in different parts of the country.
President Buhari proudly echoed in his Independence Day speech that; “On security, we have made progress. Boko Haram was defeated by last December – only resorting to cowardly attacks on soft targets, killing innocent men, women and children. Nigerians should thank our gallant men of the Armed Forces and Police for rescuing large areas of the country captured by insurgents. Now, residents in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, as well as several neighbouring states go about their daily business in relative safety. People can go to mosques, churches, market places in reasonable safety.”
Furthermore Buhari said, “Commuters can travel between cities, towns and villages without fear. Credit for this remarkable turn-round should go to our Armed Forces, the Police, various sponsored and private vigilante groups, the local traditional leaders. Security is a top to bottom concern and responsibility.”
While not underrating the collaborative efforts of sister-security agencies in the task of defeating Boko Haram or the resolution of other security challenges, the Nigerian Army under its Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai stand tall in the battle against terrorism. Soldiers have made immense and priceless contributions to end terrorism in the country.
They sleep in alien and deadly forests and sometimes, starve for days in ambush for the Boko Haram terrorists. Nigerian army are the security agents who barricade roads in sunshine or rain to conduct stressful checks on vehicles or passengers. They have been to Sambisa forests and other dreadful terrains in their sworn determination to fight the insurgents to a standstill. It is their barracks or military formations that have often been targeted for violent attacks by Boko Haram terrorists on revenge mission.
Troops have lost scores of their members in the service to fatherland. But the success story of the defeat of Boko Haram terrorists anywhere in the country resonates images of the Nigerian soldier under Buratai.
This feat of accomplishments did not come as a co-incidence. The COAS, Gen. Buratai’s skillful leadership and the unflinching desire to conquer all obstacles to deliver on his assignment and covenant with the Nigerian people to end terrorism remains the driving force of the successes.
Gen. Buratia’s operational strategies to surmount the war on terror have been unique. From the structural re-organization of the army to the introduction of motor bikes battalions and field visits to troops and his physical participation in combat operations have midwifed the general success of the war on terror, which has earned Nigeria a respectable status in the comity of nations. Nigeria prides itself now as a nation that has secured the release of over 20, 000 abductees from the camps of Boko Haram terrorists.
Despite the return to normalcy in areas previously gagged by insurgents, Gen. Buratai is convinced that some Nigerians are still under their captivity. And always blazing the trail in the war on terror, the Army Chief announced few days ago, his desire to rescue every Nigerian still held in the captivity of terrorists by launching what he branded “Operation Rescue Final.
Buratai was emphatic that it is the unbending desire of Nigerian soldiers to rescue every victim in Boko Haram gulags. This means, even parents of the Chibok girls have renewed hope that their beloved daughters would one day re-unite with them.
Therefore, when Buhari poured encomiums on the Nigerian Armed Forces in his independence day speech, it came from his heart, unadulterated. His declaration that anywhere he steps his foot in the world today, he is accorded a princely reception unlike in the past gladdens the heart. The President said, “Wherever I go, I have been received with un-accustomed hospitality,” meaning, the Nigerian military has largely contributed to this improved image rating in the comity of nations.
Abiodun writes from Ibadan, Oyo State.