2 years of numerous achievements of the Chief of Army staff, Major General Buratai

2 years of numerous achievements of the Chief of Army staff, Major General Buratai

By Yemi Esho, Abuja

When on July 13, 2015 President Muhammadu Buhari appointed the then Major General Tukur Yusuff Buratai as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), there came a sigh of relief from those who know him as a man of honour. His appointment could not have come at a better time when the Boko Haram insurgents had instilled fear in the psyche of Nigerians and the military was losing its officers and men in large numbers. The Nigerian military regarded as one of the best in the world has become the butt of jokes in Nigeria apparently because the past COAS did not do the needful or because they sat on the money meant for the welfare of the gallant soldiers and diverted it to personal pocket.

Before Lt General Buratai came into the saddle, Nigerian military chiefs, the service chiefs, with their pot-belly are used to stay in the comfort of their offices in Abuja dishing out orders to officers at the war front.  No wonder President Buhari in his first pronouncement as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces relocated the military command centre to Maiduguri taking the insurgency war to the door steps of the Boko Haram fighters. The army chief took up the gauntlet from the presidential order and has not disappointed. He has shown that he understands the terrain of the North East, the epicentre of the insurgents, having been born in Buratai town in Biu local government area in Borno state, which has also suffered brutal attack from Boko Haram.

Prior his appointment as army chief, Buratai was the commander, Multinational Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta where he distinguished himself in so many ways. Two years on in the saddle, Buratai has fought the anti-insurgency war, fighting the insurgents into a standstill and decimated them in great numbers. He has the trust of his officers and men who carried out his orders with every sense of loyalty and discipline. It wouldn’t be out of place to reel out the achievements of this officer who has tread where others fall in the discharge of his duties as the 24th indigenous Chief of Army Staff.

Buratai’s military career in brief

In January 1981, Buratai attended the Nigerian Defence Academy Kaduna as a member of the 29 Regular Combatant Course (29 RC). On successful completion of his Officer Cadet training, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 17th December 1983 into the Infantry Corps of the Nigerian Army.

He served in 26 Amphibious Battalion Elele, Port Harcourt, Military Observer at the United Nations Verification Mission II in Angola; later 26 Guards Battalion, Lagos; Lagos Garrison Command Camp. Lt Gen Buratai also served as administrative officer at the State House, Abuja; 82 Motorized Battalion; 81 Battalion, Bakassi Peninsular; Army Headquarters Garrison, Abuja before he became a Directing Staff at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, earning the prestigious “Pass Staff College Dagger” (psc(+)) appellation.

His operational deployments include Military Observer at the United Nations Verification Mission II in Angola, Op HARMONY IV in the Bakassi Peninsular, OP MESA, Op Pulo Shield, Op Safe Conduct, MNJTF, Op Zaman Lafiya and Op Lafiya Dole.

Buratai’s promotion dates are; Lieutenant (January 1985); Captain (January 1989); Major (January 1994), Lieutenant Colonel (January 1998), Colonel (January 2004), Brigadier General (January 2009), Major General (January 2012) and Lieutenant General (August 2015). Among his numerous awards and honors are; Forces Service Star (FSS), Meritorious Service Star (MSS); Field Command Medal; United Nations Medal for Angolan Verification Medal II.

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Impressive Achievements

Boko Haram decimation

Buratai since his appointment as Nigeria army chief has made it a duty to identify with his officers and men as they launched a full-scale war against the Boko Haram fighters. As an officer well-grounded in military tactics, the army chief has led his men to victories defeating the insurgents who not only bow but surrendered their weapons to the military.

He has led by example by encouraging his men in the war front in the North East. He has identified with the soldiers in their trying times by personally visiting them at the 112 Task Force Battalion in Mafa, the headquarters of Mafa Local Government Area of Borno State, addressed and had breakfast with them during last Christmas. He is the first military chief to be so concerned about his men in the war front. Nigerians are not surprised that peace is gradually returning to the North East as Buratai has embraced the template designed for him by President Buhari to put a stop to the insurgency war.

Addressing the men, Buratai said, “I initiated the visit to celebrate Christmas with troops at the war front to boost your morale in the fight against Boko Haram insurgents. I have received a very thorough brief from your second in command, who stood in for your commanding officer. He has told me the brave exploits you have undertaken in your area of operation. I just want to urge you to keep it up, we are all proud of you, the entire country is proud of you and indeed Mr. President and the Commander- in -Chief is proud of you. Keep up the very good job you have been doing. We will continue doing our best to ensure that your logistics is catered for and your general welfare is also taken care of.

As we celebrate the Christmas and we also approach the new year, I want to wish you merry Christmas and happy new year. I just sent my message across to you, towards the beginning of Operation Rescue Finale. It has been quite successful, I want to congratulate you and we keep our promise of what will happen once we enter 2017. We will make sure that we do the necessary re-organization to make the operation much stronger and to have a very good relief system for everybody”.

Buratai is frank and blunt and will always address issue as it is. His message seemed to be the morale booster for the men who have continued to serve the country day and night to bring lasting peace to the country.

 

Welfarism

Buratai does not joke with the welfare of his officers. He always makes sure they are in right frame of mind in their duty. He is a man that will go to any length to see and meet their needs at every point in time. Unlike in the recent past, priority has been given to the equipment used by the military to combat the insurgents among other steps taking by the army chief. The allowances and bonuses of the military are paid as at when due.

Recently, he performed the foundation laying ceremony of the Muhammadu Buhari Cantonment Giri, along Airport road, Abuja which also featured the commissioning of Infantry patrol vehicles. He also commissioned Officers and Soldiers Living accommodation at 50 Space Command at the same location. It was vintage Buratai who has continually assured the troops of getting their kits as at when due.

During his visit to the opening of the Regimental Sergeant Majors (RSM) Convention in Maiduguri in 2015, he had said that steps would be taken to provide kits for taking part in different operations.

At the event he said, “I want to reassure you that troops’ welfare will continue to receive my utmost attention. Every step is being taken to ensure that you get the best in terms of uniforms, boots and equipment as well as medical care among others. I wish to assure you of the Federal Government’s continuous support to the Nigerian Army in the discharge of its mission. President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged his total support to our armed forces in its current campaign to restore the territorial integrity of our dear nation.

It is also to his credit that the troops in the North East are provided with constant water supply to meet their daily needs and to stabilize them emotionally and psychologically.

 

Clearance of the dreaded Sambisa Forest

On December 22 last year, the military took over the Sambisa Forest in what was a landmark in the fight against insurgency in the North East. They not only decimated and degraded the Boko Haram enclave, they captured some members of the sect and freed some captives.

The capture or takeover of the forest was a major milestone in the fight against the sect who had laid claim to the forest to perpetuate their nefarious activities. Troops of the Operation Lafiya Dole proudly displayed vital insignias of the sect including the flags of Abubakar Shekau on national television to the admiration of Nigerians.

About 1,240 suspected associates and members of the dreaded sect captured in the forest were paraded before the people. They are made up of 413 men, 323 women, 251 male children and 253 female children. The release of some of the abducted Chibok girls can also be attributed to the efforts of Buratai and his men who partnered the Federal Government in curbing the activities of the sect.

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Brazil highest national honour

The army chief has always shown the zeal to excel and set records in whatever he does. His vast contributions to national, regional and international peace has not gone unnoticed here at home and abroad. He has earned the trust of his boss, President Buhari, who has given him all the necessary support to succeed in the insurgent war. One of such awards was the “Millennium Hero” award conferred on him by a coalition of over 80 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) at the Army Headquarters, Abuja. It was at the occasion that he warned those agitating for Nigeria’s separation to nip such in the bud as the Nigerian army would do all it could to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria.

“Having been given the Millennium Hero award, I need to call on all the agitators for separation and other acts of destabilization, they better disregard it, not in this era, not in this millennium. It is the beginning of victory and continuous victory over all groups which are bent on destabilizing the country, especially with regards to security. I need to say that we would continue to do our best to take care of security atmosphere that is needed as provided for in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

His peace effort was also recognized by the Brazilian government when on April 25, 2017, he was conferred with the Brazilian Military Order of Merit Award, the highest military honour in Brazil. The award is for military officers that have distinguished themselves in various military endeavours. the award was in recognition of his exemplary and world’s recognized leadership qualities and the Nigerian Army’s effort in the fight against terrorism and insurgency.

Promotion of officers and men

As part of efforts to encourage his men, General Buratai on Tuesday July 25, 2017 approved the promotion of 6,199 soldiers currently involved in the fight against Boko Haram. A statement by the Army spokesperson, Sani Usman said, “The Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lieutenant General TY Buratai, has today Tuesday 25th July 2017, approved the special promotion of 6,199 soldiers serving in Operation LAFIYA DOLE to various ranks between Lance Corporals to Warrant Officers in the Nigerian Army.

Usman, a brigadier-general gave the breakdown of the beneficiaries of the special promotion; Staff Sergeants to Warrant Officers –329; Sergeants to Staff Sergeants –371; Corporals to Sergeants –707; Lance Corporals to Corporals –1,290 and Privates to Lance Corporals –3,502.

 

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