By Ajogwu Jerry Ochada
The Chief of Army Staff alongside top military brass were in Jaji, Kaduna state last week for the Chief of Army Staff Combined First Quarter Conference And Combat Arms Training Week 2019. It was another epoch making occasion to appraise the roles of the Nigerian Army especially as it concerns counter insurgency operations. The one week long event also featured the show of military combat and display.
Declaring the conference open, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai said the choice location of the conference, offers participants the opportunity to see the level of transformation of Nigerian Army training institutions in the past four years, with Jaji as an example. General Buratai said the transformed citadel of military training provides the serene environment needed for participants to brainstorm and appraise Nigerian Army’s performance in the First Quarter 2019. In the course of the conference, deliberation on key issues that will positively prepare and project the NA into the Second Quarter of 2019 with a view to further consolidate the Chief of Army Staff efforts towards achieving his vision: “to have a professionally responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional roles” was brought to the fore.
Furthermore, General Buratai noted that Nigerian Army within the First Quarter 2019 has performed creditably well starting with the seizing of initiatives and turning the battle momentum against the Boko Haram terrorists in the North East and rounding up with the professional manner with which the NA supported the civil authorities, as part of its constitutional role, to ensure the successful conduct of the 2019 General Elections.
According to the Army Chief, “The successful conduct of Ex EGWU EKE III and OP SAFE CONDUCT 2019 in support of the Nigeria Police and civil authorities has contributed to strengthen the Nation’s democracy considering the wide acceptability and credibility of the elections as espoused by key nations of the world, civil society organizations as well as local and international observers and monitors. Despite reports of some alleged cases of infractions by some personnel, which are being investigated by a high level committee, I am elated with the encomiums and accolades showered on the NA for the high level of professionalism exhibited in the conduct of the elections. I say well done to each and every one of you,”.
Furthermore, General Buratai noted and appreciate the resilience and doggedness of Nigerian Army troops in reversing the ugly trends which according to him almost marred our concerted efforts in the North East. He revealed that, Boko Haram has aligned with the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) to make Northern Borno and the general area of the Lake Chad Basin an enclave straddling the four countries in the region. Thus, the fight requires a combine holistic approach by the countries of the Lake Chad Commission to ensure the total defeat of both BHT and ISWAP. He said Operation YANCIN TAFKI was launched to effectively ensure the total destruction of the insurgents hibernating and operating from the ‘tumbuns’ with a view to crippling their ability and capability to wage any form of war. Gen Buratai noted the operational successes recorded in the First Quarter of 2019 in the fight against insurgency has further underscored the Nigerian Army resolve to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
General Buratai disclosed to participants that Nigerian Army under his watch has operationalized some new commands, schools, brigades, battalions and FOBs. Some of them are the NA Cyber Warfare School Giri, 63 Bde Asaba, 98 Bn Birnin Gwari, NA Special Forces Logistics Base Giri and FOB Gembu. He further revealed he has directed that the FOB Ode Ekiti be made operational also and 19 Brigade and its units to operate deep into the insurgents’ hideouts in Northern Borno and the Lake Chad region. He said the NA also established a Centre for Counter Terrorism under the Nigerian Army University Biu essentially as a hub for comprehensive research on counter terrorism. He pledged that more establishments and units will institutionalized in the nearest future.
The conference had in attendance Principal Staff Officers from the Army Headquarters, Operational and Theatre Commanders as well as notable personalities from the private and educational sector. The COAS also used the opportunity to call for proper funding for personnel of the service stating that at least the sum of one billion naira can make a difference at the moment. The event climaxed with a show of force drill, heralded by the render of free medical outreach and the unveiling of special projects effected by the Chief of Army Staff.