Troublemakers have no hiding place in Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. Those propelled by veiled dark forces, who think Nigerians should not have peace will be haunted by their own nightmares. There is no sane reason any person or armed gangs/militias should feel Nigeria should be deprived of peace or never to have peaceful elections.
Quite unacceptably, the penchant for violence has compelled President Muhammadu Buhari to consistently deploy soldiers for internal security. Though, it is not unlawful; but however, it is a subtle excessive use of the military, which should be preserved for insecurity threats to the nation from external aggressors.
An African adage says, “ a child who does not allow his mother to have a blissful night rest, also deprives himself of sleep.” The troubleshooters in Nigeria can plot their evil. But the incumbent political leadership of Nigeria is not tired of checkmating their destructive excesses either.
And the armed criminals and electoral fraudsters are unfortunate now because the leadership of the Nigerian Army under the guidance of the COAS and henchman of the counter-insurgency operations, Gen. TY Buratai is not a leader who brooks such insecurity threats. He is ever prepared to meet such incensed miscreants at their door steps and dungeons.
Gen. Buratai doesn’t fail to comply with any presidential order to its last word. And he surprises Nigerians by executing such directives on the civilian populace with decency and utmost respect for the sanctity of the human rights and lives of Nigerians. He restricts himself to only armed gangs. Law abiding citizens are usually on the same page with him because they savour the protection the soldiers offer them.
When President Buhari directed the COAS to deploy soldiers in aid of civil security to checkmate armed and violent electoral fraudsters in the 2019 general elections, some dissenting voices vibrated from suspicious quarters. But they were not strong enough to wane his determination.
Those who misunderstand this Army Chief thought they could intimidate him by whipping empty sentiments about over militarization of the electoral process. But Gen. Buratai led soldiers on this outing and came out shinier than their adversaries thought it possible.
Gen. Buratai gave them food for thought. He countered the detractors with a stronger warning that those who are intent on snatching ballot boxes might be doing it for the last time in their history of politicking. He sounded harsh; but was very civil in the operations of safeguarding the ballot of February 23, 2019. Before this hour, many Nigerians who listened to him concluded that soldiers are on another mission of bloodletting.
But they were wrong.The Army Chief was only concerned that no Nigerian should be hindered from casting his vote in the election on account of brute force. He did not conceal his disposition even to Army personnel whom he sternly cautioned that those unwilling to comply with his orders or unready to be loyal to the Army leadership must retire from service before February 22, a day to the elections.
So, even within the Army his tough utterances left many shuddering. Even this writer was skeptical about consenting to soldiers’ participation in the electoral process. The phobia of the likelihood of soldiers on election duty freely spilling blood on election day was benumbing.
It caused instant prayers for God intercession and also, stimulated a research on what soldiers do in other African countries when deployed on election duty. The experiences of Liberia and, Sierra Leone were not commendable. The Egyptian experiences during the Arab spring too were also not pleasant.
But the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Buhari had given an order. And no one else could withdraw it, except him, in spite of the public apprehension over it. And the COAS too could not violate it by failing to comply. Nigerians resigned to fate, with minds fixated on seeing the worse of the army in supervising the electoral process.
Luckily, Gen. Buratai surprised every Nigerian. Soldiers mostly adorned in their civil friendly khaki uniforms manned the elections, even in the most remotest parts of Nigeria. They were civil, friendly and accommodating to all civilians. Those who incurred their wrath were the armed gangs and electoral fraudsters spotted in some places, who were bent on thwarting a genuine ballot.
But rather than visit them with brutality, soldiers arrested the culprits quietly, who were handed over to civil security for prosecution. No blood was spilled. No Nigerian was tortured or held hostage by by soldiers in the barracks. Nigeria benefitted more as the people had the freedom to exercise their civic responsibilities without molestations or intimidations from armed political thugs.
Thus, it dawned on Nigerians, as real, the publicized, pleasant character of Gen. Buratai. Through actions, the Army boss has again demonstrated that he is a loyal officer and patriotic soldier. He has shown that he is more interested in the defence of the security and peace of Nigerians to enable them engage in legitimate pursuits, wherever they may reside in the country. It is a statement that as long as he remains the head of the Nigerian Army, no armed group would be allowed to feast on the liberties, security and peace of Nigerians.
Gen. Buratai who is touted as the “Peoples General,” again confirmed through his actions that he an enviable human rights ambassador and holds such principles to very sacrosanct in all his interactions or engagements’ with the Nigerian public. He has never spared any soldier reported to have infringed on the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.
Nigerians must necessarily know that Nigerian soldiers of today are remarkably different from what obtained prior to 2015 and before the appointment of Gen. Buratai as COAS. The Army leadership now does not condone unethical conduct or any professional malfeasance. Indolence in the line of duty is resented like a plaque. Every soldier now sticks to prescribed creeds and professional decorum at the times.
In the immediate past, such standards of excellent professional conduct were impossible. Many Nigerians lost confidence in soldiers and never appreciated them. It was before the Buhari Presidency when they shirked before Boko Haram terrorists and failed to protect Nigerians and the territorial integrity of the country.
But the recent victorious outings of soldiers against insurgents have changed such negative perceptions. Every Nigerian should join the rest of the world to say, bravo to the Nigerian Army.
–Ugo wrote this article from the United Kingdom