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Buratai and the price for national honour

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I reflected intensely, on the presidential and national assembly elections held February 23, 2019. My thoughts meandered far and near. The gory images of violence before and after the elections kept assaulting my psyche. I feared and dreaded February 23. I wanted to relocate to a neighboring country for safety.

Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai / AFP

I wasn’t alone in this cage. Nigerians were generally apprehensive. The signposts of phobia were everywhere in the country and President Muhammadu Buhari knew it. Mr. President, a security czar of the military ilk, got the message clearly that conventional civil security alone cannot police Nigeria on Election Day and post-election period; the feverish days results are enthusiastically awaited.

Buhari knew the army is the only saving grace. So, he called the COAS and leader of counter-terrorism in Nigeria, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai to render assistance to regular civil security. Buratai complied with the instructions of his Commander-In-Chief (C-In-C).

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To this minute, I can’t believe that the elections were not only peaceful, but free, fair and credible. The trouble shooters dreaded the sight of soldiers in obscure localities and the amassed weapons of mass destructions were not released on Nigerians.

I know, the party thugs and their debased chieftains knew any such attempt could be met with stiffer response from the Army. And as far as I know Gen. Buratai, the culprits will not escape. They will be hunted to the remotest part of their ancestral villages or fortified dungeons.

So, they never came out to ply their violent trade. And Nigeria is happier. The election observers from the international community are more excited and have argued plausibly that Nigeria did not burst into flames anymore. They have commended the Nigerian Army and indeed, sister security agents for the marvelous job.

I hate violence. I hate killings. I hate public anger expressed with swords and daggers. I understand, there is no admissible theory which prescribes absence of conflict, where human beings co-exist. But dialogue is usually the way out. Where angst rise to the point of violence, I detest it infinitely. But Gen. Buratai and the Army he leads have saved us again.

And it is the reason which has prompted me to scribble this piece. Gen. Buratai is always there at the hour of need. He thinks Nigeria at all times. He thinks the security, peace and unity of Nigeria. I am hued from a military family. But in recent times, no Army General has impressed me like Gen. Buratai. Most of us may not understand, the inferno Nigeria faced until President Buhari came on board and appointed Gen. Buratai as COAS with the silent message that “make your troops available for internal security, anytime I so request.”

We have remained the only country in Africa with multiple insecurity threats. Each time I reflect on it, I am always tempted to dismiss our nation, as a failed state. But when I look at President Buhari, he rekindles my hope and animates my faith in this country. He actions assures me that we shall not slide dangerously into perdition.

Can we talk to ourselves or conscience? Can we ask reflective and soul-searching questions on why we are facing Boko Haram terrorism; violent secession agitations; militancy, armed banditry and cattle rustling, herders/farmer clashes and other numerous communal or insurrectional crises? Do we want peace in this nation?

How do we look at ourselves and fraternity for the troubles we create and the blood we spill delightedly? And the one person bearing the brunt of our senselessness is Gen. Buratai and his troops. They know nothing about it; they are not part of the secret meetings we hold in dark chambers or places to breach national security or kill ourselves.

But soldiers are the ones paying for our evil. Many have lost their lives for us to be secured from the aggression of these demonic forces. I am eternally grateful to the Army.

Those who attempted to compromise the electoral process in the first round of the elections met their waterloo. Soldiers arrested and handed them over to the Police for prosecution. We enjoy post-election peace today because Gen. Buratai was the silent “emperor” or shadows of peaceful elections or the omniscient eye watching over the security of Nigeria.

I don’t know when President Buhari is holding the next national merit award. But may I talk to my President publicly on this forum. Your Excellency, Sir, the COAS, Lt.Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai is eminently qualified for the 2019 national merit honors in Nigeria. I am a citizen of Nigeria from Nasarawa state and Gen. Buratai is my nominee.

I am not passing this message through a third party. Mr. President, my political leader, I am addressing you publicly and directly. I won’t suggest the title of the national merit honours you will confer on Gen. Buratai. But I know, if you grant my request, you will give him one of very best on behalf of Nigerians in appreciation of his service to fatherland.

I can’t wait to see the next list of Nigerians for its national merit award. One name that must feature prominently is Gen. TY Buratai. If Nigerians do not see his name, my President, Nigerians will query you. He has justified himself in service to the nation from the first day he enlisted into the Nigerian Army.

He is the first COAS staff, I know in Nigeria who clads himself with fighting garments and jump into the trenches and jungles to fight enemies of Nigeria alongside his troops. His patriotism is unequalled. Politicians dread his shadows like a vampire because they know, he cannot be compromised or influenced, no matter the amount in millions offered to him as bribe.

Soldiers under his watch dare not go close to politics. They are apolitical or neutral and any Army personnel who violate this rule, directive or code faces the most severe consequences.

Buratai has proven to be a dependable ally of the C-in-C, President Buhari. He has dispensed himself as a soldier and leader who can be trusted with any national assignment and he will deliver just the way it has been spelt.

Some silent, undercover forces monitored the Army to see their actions on civil duty during the elections, as it concerns national security, but found no fault. Nothing was found! Rather, the Army’s roles have been acknowledged in stabilization of the polity and the electoral process. The report in commendations of the Army is really awesome. Gen. Buratai didn’t do this alone, but with his commanders and lieutenants whom he has trained to think, reason and act like him all day.

Even Boko Haram insurgents who tried to stop the elections in the Northeast met stiff resistance from the Army and the elections held peacefully in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. Terrorists who again, tested the might of the Nigerian Amy these states were randomly captured by our troops who had laid ambush on them.

I have no doubt that democracy has come to stay in Nigeria. But honour must be given to only those who have paid the right price. My President, Gen. Buratai has done a lot to stabilize our democratic journey and national security. As a citizen of Nigeria, please, Your Excellency, do me this favour; inspire Gen. TY Buratai and his troops commanders with the next national merit honours awards.

Odoma writes this piece from Asokoro, Abuja.

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