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Mallam Yusufu Buratai: A Tribute to A Veteran



For all things under heavens, there is a time.  A time to be born and a time to die.  And in between is the time to live.  It is the wish of all mankind to live a worthy and accomplished live here on earth.  Sextus Propertius quote “that death is best which comes appropriately at a ripe age”.

Before the passing away of Mallam Yusufu Buratai on Friday February, 9, 2018, many Nigerians are oblivious of the fact that the deceased was a veteran of World War II.  The many tributes and eulogies on the life of Baba Buratai brought to the fore the great service he rendered to fatherland.

I never met him.  But he was a WWII veteran, and that’s how I can honestly say I knew this great man of valour.  Now I knew him because I knew his generation.  Theirs was the WWII generation, and if you knew one of them, you pretty much knew them all.  I say proudly, my grandfather was one of them.  They were the “Greatest Generation”. There were that and much more.

Mallam Buratai’s generation was shaped by harsh forces that succeeding generations have escaped.  They escaped, not by omission, but through selfless efforts to bequeath a better nation.  When the call for service beckons, Baba  Buratai did not hesitate.  He joined the West African Frontier Force and was relied upon to save the world.  But more importantly, Buratai and his collegues were willing to serve and willing to sacrifice.

Although Elder Buratai succumbed to the call of Allah (SWT), the most merciful, he left an indelible mark in the annals of our history.  One valuable lesson we can learn from him is the SACRIFICE.  We will never forget  that he readily gave his tomorrow for us to enjoy peaceful co-existence in Nigeria and the world at large.  He was 18 when he joined the military and subsequently deployed to fight in Burma.  His courage never failed.  He soldier on gallantly and conquered .

When Baba Buratai demobilized from the military, he went back to civilian life and did great things for our country.  The thing that amazes me about these WWII veterans is how after achieving the greatest and most accomplishment in the course of human history, they returned home and settled into lives that were so ordinary and unassuming.

Baba Buratai joined the services of escorting ships from Lagos to Cotonou and Cape Town in South Africa.  As a ship crew, he was committed and did his job so diligently and most humbly.  You will never know he had commanded proceedings at battle fronts in foreign land.

Mallam Buratai retired into community service.  He rededicated his life to the service of humanity.  He is an embodiment of wisdom.  His counsels and advice are always apt.  His kinsmen testified to his greatness.  They said he was a jolly good fellow full of fun and laughter.  Education, he had not, but what he learned he never forgot.

Baba is a great philanthropist who championed the cause of the underprivileged.  Out of the abundance of the heart, he gave generously to widows and the poor in the society.  He contributed immensely to the development and upliftment of his  community and humanity.

Baba Buratai trained his children to be God fearing, law abiding, humble and above all, truthful in life.  He encouraged them to be hardworking and always look up to Allah (SWT) in times of trial and temptations.

A Lion  will always beget a Lion.  Mallam Yusufu Buratai passed on to glory, but left us a gem of an inestimable value.  A Gentleman Officer, the Peoples’ General and erudite Commander – Lt.Gen. Tukur Yusufu  Buratai, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS).  He is a brave General who has become the nemesis of Boko Haram terrorists and Shekau’s nightmare.

Gen. Buratai took over command of the Nigerian Army at a time troops morale was extremely low.  At a period the Nigeria Army that was hitherto a dominant force in Africa was at the verge of being demystified.  At a time the leadership of the Army seems clueless and the gallantry of troops was a fleeting illusion.

Muhammadu Buhari, our amiable President, on assumption of office, trained his eyes on the way of Gen. Buratai.  PMB, himself, an experienced  military  tactician and hero of the Civil war, appointed the best of the best.  An Officer that could liberate the army from the grip of ineptitude.  Gen. Buratai came to the rescue and he did not disappoint his admirers and troops .

He calibrated the army formations and unit commanders and remolded the army into a formidable fighting force.  He led troops from the front and took the battle to the stronghold of the terrorists.  And in record time, camp zero in the dreaded sambisa forest fell like a pack of cards.  The terrorists were decimated and Shekau is faced with the reality of a total defeat.

For Gen. Buratai, the conventional knowledge of warfare could not have sufficed.  He garnered valuable experience from his father that guided most of his decisions.  An experience you never can find even at the war college.  And today, Buratai’s reputation precedes him.

Mallam Yusufu Buratai’s remain was lowered to mother earth on Friday February 9, 2018.  A grateful nation mourns you.  We thank you for the valuable services to country and humanity.  We owe it to you and the “Greatest Generation” to make sure your accomplishments are never forgotten.   And we owe it to you to order our lives to make us worthy of your legacy – whatever it takes.

A good man, like a candle, must keep cool and burn to light the way for others to see.  May the light you have lite continue to blaze on.  Adieu Baba Yusuf Buratai.


Ikese is a public affairs analyst.



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