UNARGUABLY, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai is one of Nigeria’s finest breed of soldier.
On and off the field, the diligent soldier from Buratai village in Biu Local Government Area of Borno State has distinguished himself for all to see regardless of the futile attempts of his egocentric critics to laboriously find fault in the laudable works being done by the Nigerian Army under his leadership.
While not judging the self-appointed critics of General Buratai, it is, however, instructive to know that many Nigerians, especially those whose professionalism and patriotism of the Nigerian Army has positively rubbed on, would have nothing to say about the leadership of Buratai.
Appointed on July 13, 2015, by President Muhammadu Buhari to salvage a severe and precarious situation the government inherited, security-wise, Buratai has been in office for 45 months, and under any standard of assessment, as relating to the situation the government inherited and what is on the ground today, the COAS has bequeathed to himself a commendable tenure.
But as they say, the reward for hard work is more work.
While not pushing a picture of perfection, it is, however, established that the Army Chief, within a short period of time, has been able to galvanize and lead a relatively discouraged and unmotivated soldiers that he inherited to a veritable team of patriotic officers who are now willing to put all they have in defence of the county and her territory.
Beyond the incredible redemption of parts of the country’s territory annexed by the Boko Haram in 2014 and the restoration of peace and stability in the northeast, and other troubled parts of the Country, the Army Chief has been able to professionalize the military institution through his ingenuity as a strategist and tactician.
Speaking with members of the Guild of Editors at their conference held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Buratai said his vision is to have a professional and responsive army in the discharge of its constitutional roles.
He said: “In order to maintain such pride, I have laid structures for effective leadership and personnel management because the army must strive to remain as an institution of authority.
“It is to create responsibilities, provide direction, inspiration, vision and communicate same to personnel at all times.”
On human rights, the Nigerian Army, under Buratai has experienced a marked departure from its past rocky relationship with human rights bodies, but now engages them as partners rather than rivals in the internal security operations.
The Army leadership has been able to close the gap with the civil populace, human rights agencies and Civil Society Organizations, CSOs.
Human rights and legal bodies such as National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Amnesty International (AI), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) have lauded the Nigerian Army for its efforts at ensuring peace and tranquility in the country.
Also, as a way of investigating all cases of human rights violations involving the army and improving its image, General Buratai established the Human Rights Desk under the Department of Civil/Military Affairs (CMA).
The reinstated 3,032 soldiers who were convicted of various offences through series of General Court Marshall, GCM, set up by previous Army leadership were full of appreciation to the current leadership of the army under General Buratai.
No doubt, General Buratai has decided to undertake a transformation of the service.
The training in the Nigerian Army has been modified. As a Service Chief under the administration of President Buhari, who is an apostle of excellence, it is not surprising that the COAS has wholeheartedly embraced the change agenda and is driving the Army along that line.
He has repositioned the Nigerian Army and it is now better placed to face contemporary security challenges and fit into the democratic setting, which has been firmly entrenched in the country.
The Nigerian Army, under General Buratai, has continued its excellent showing in the international circles in the area of peace keeping.
It is instructive to note that Nigerian soldiers on peace keeping mission have excelled as there has been no report of soldiers misbehaving and getting involved in embarrassing and criminal activities.
Also, Nigerian Soldiers are now well-motivated than ever as they are getting the required support as at when needed.
General Buratai cuts the image of an uncommon soldier; tough on the battlefront but gentle as a dove on the home front. He has a pedigree of being a torn in the flesh of insurgents, insurrectionists and other enemies of Nigeria. He is a Soldier’s Soldier, gallant, resourceful, courageous and humane.
He has brought laughter to many faces, enhanced the development of many communities across Nigeria, he has numerous philanthropic and humanitarian gestures to his name; he has supported many Internally Displaced Persons in the Northeast to resettle and assist them with implements and tractors to clear bushy surroundings, construction of roads and boosting of farming.
Though in the throes of few challenges, the Nigeria Army, under General Buratai, has remained resolute and committed to maintaining the territorial integrity of the borders as well as keeping the nation one and democracy intact.
Today, it is no longer in doubt that the Nigeria Army under Buratai is more than ever before committed to its constitutional responsibilities.
It is, therefore, not out of place to state that General Buratai has lived up to expectations and Nigerians are proud of his leadership. With this kind of leadership, the Nigeria Army is surely poised to help nurture and protect our democracy to maturity.
*Comrade Odeyemi, a security analyst and counter terrorist expert is the Convener of the Coalition of Civil Society Groups against terrorism in Nigeria.