of public service amplifies a personality of selflessness, commitment, patriotism and loyalty to fatherland. It flaunts the visa of a thorough and dedicated Nigerian professional soldier. His profile is a plaque in itself and exudes attributes vested in very few Nigerians nay Africans.
This Nigeria’s incumbent Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai is a study of life’s excellence, unsurpassed accomplishments and exemplary leadership. He has etched his name on the monuments of life, in small and mighty places; in troubled waters and on scary mountains. Buratai fondly adored as the “Peoples General” is feted as the poisonous bee that stings the enemies of his people; a conqueror of warriors and devourer of even the most lethal weapons of the enemy.
Gen. Buratai, Nigeria’s 20th Chief of Army Staff reached the peak of his professional career, when President Muhammadu Buhari elevated him to the exalted position of COAS on July 17, 2015. Now on top of the echelon of the Nigerian military, Buratai is often brandished as the most decorated Nigerian military officer in recent times. He has proved his proficiency beyond doubts of meriting all preceding promotions and elevations in his permeating career. He is a soldier of the Niger Delta creeks, in the same notch he is the nemesis of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) in the thick forests of Sambisa in the Northeast and elsewhere.
The United Nations Verification Mission II in Angola bears his soldering imprints; while the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) under the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin Republic immortalise his enduring legacies.
Therefore, when the Selection Panel of All African Students’ Union (AASU), received nomination for the last edition of its “African of the Year Award,” Gen. Tukur Buratai effortlessly out-shone his rivals to emerge victorious. Yet, they were also profoundly accomplished men and women in their own respective careers.
Similarly, Gen. Buratai replicated the same feat when the Editorial Board of an Online medium voted for recognition of its Man of the Month and award for September 2016. He trounced Nigeria’s Dream Team which fetched the country a bronze medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics by a ratio of 9 to 3 votes to corner the esteemed award.
However, today’s crowning heights of this accomplished infantry senior officer started in 1983 when he was commissioned into the Infantry Corps of the Nigerian Army. This was after an exhaustive training at the prestigious Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna as member of the 29 Regular Combatant Course.
Over the years, Buratai has carved a niche for himself as a combatant, administrator, commander and an academic freak in military circles. With a Nigerian Defence Academy Certification of Education; Bachelor of Arts degree in History, he also parades two Master’s degree in History and the second in Philosophy of Security Studies.
Buratai’s service decorations and honours puff medals like Nigerian Army Medal, Forces Service Star, Meritorious Service Star, Distinguished Service Star and the Grand Service Star. Others include, Pass Staff Course Dagger (psc(+), National Defence College (Bangladesh), Field Command Medal, Training Support Medal and the United Nations Medal for Angolan Verification Medal II.
The COAS is an interesting personality on many counts. Impressively, Buratai has etched his name on the psyche of Nigerians as their redeemer from the chains of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs). Like his boss and current Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari who in 1984 eased out remnants of the violent Maitatsine fanatics and Chadian rebels, Buratai is the hero in Nigeria’s narrative of the cursed blades of insurgents against the country.
Therefore, when Gen. Buratai laces his boots and steps out on the battle field; he inspires courage and bravery in his foot soldiers. When he reclaimed Nigerian territories captured by BHTs, he redefines the essence of existence for many communities and thousands of its inhabitants. He is the harbinger of the message of hope and freedom when he visits Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at different camps.
Parents of some Chibok schoolgirls, whose daughters have been freed by Nigerian troops, celebrate this unexpected reunion in loud thankfulness to President Buhari and Buratai’s commanding dexterity. In like manner, the freedom regained by over 20,000 Nigerians abducted at different times by BHTs have their pride and dignity restored by Buratai’s untiring efforts and the military.
Indeed, BHTs who are dislodged in their hundreds and forced to bid a retreat or held captive by Nigerian military against committing their accustomed atrocities on Nigerians and the nation-state, Buratai is their mortal enemy. As the likes of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe fired nationalistic instincts and agitations for the freedom of Nigeria from colonial rule with their pen, through his defunct West African Pilot tabloid, Buratai has stepped into this large shoe by consistently campaigning for the freedom of Nigeria from BHTs with the power and strength of the gun and sword.
The COAS’s patriotism and loyalty to his country and his readiness to sacrifice even his life for Nigeria and Nigerians stimulates passions of endearments to him. Whether serving in the Niger Delta creeks or Bakassi Peninsular or the desert states on the fringes of Nigeria’s Northeast, Buratai remained the impartial soldier, who placed premium on national interest higher than any other consideration. In this respect, he strikes the semblance of the inspiring founding fathers of modern Nigeria like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
With this proclivity, Buratai remained unperturbed with BHTs invasion and seizure of Biu, his home LGA in Borno state, but travelled to Dikwa and Gamboru to empathise and raise hope for thousands of displaced persons. In Gamboru, the Army Chief gave these famous words of assurance to displaced persons, which bear relevance till date; “We are here today to observe this significant and symbolic ceremony of hoisting the Nigerian national flag…. today, under my command we are here to discharge and redeem our territorial integrity as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The wild enchantments in appreciation of Buratai were symbolic, especially, as it came from the crowd of displaced persons in despair and deprivation of the worse kind. It was from a people for whom life, no longer held any promise, but were suddenly relived from this enslavement. And it has been the nectar of Buratai’s ovations, in Nigeria, Africa and the rest of the world.
We cannot afford to remain aloof in chanting African songs of praise for Buratai, a worthy African ambassador. What more, with heavier casualties and dislodgement of BHTs in the last few weeks, the Army Chief truly deserves Man of the Month honour and award for September 2016.
– Odoma, a columnist at The Nigerian.com wrote from Abuja