An Enigma Beyond The Mountains
Lt. Gen Tukur Yusufu Buratai is Nigeria’s incumbent Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and leader of the counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria. Appointed COAS in July 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Army Chief was mandated to terminate the mortal Boko Haram Terrorism (BHT) which became a frightful affront, bleeding sore on the conscience, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nigeria.
The Army Chief, who cavalcades an enriching profile in the service of humanity was commissioned into the Nigerian Army’s Infantry Corps in 1983, as a Second Lieutenant after his Officer Cadet training at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA). The Army Chief has served Nigeria, holding numerous commands, administrative, and instructional portfolios before his meritorious elevation to the peak of his career as Nigeria’s COAS.
In the course of his global military service, Gen. Buratai‘s shadows have been engraved ineradicably in many countries around world on Peace Keeping Missions under the banner of the United Nations (UN).
Gen. Buratai, a prodigious leader has his ancestry in the obscure town Buratai in Biu LGA of Borno State, in Northeast Nigeria. He descends from the parentage of the family of Alhaji Yusuf Buratai, himself, a non- commissioned officer in the colonial Royal West African Frontier Force and World War II veteran.
The younger Buratai hungered for knowledge and exposed himself to the rigours of western education at a tender age. And from the outset, in his quest for knowledge at both the elementary and secondary school levels, Gen. Buratai distinguished himself in academic excellence.
He eventually opted to pursue a military career, like his father, which landed him into NDA, acquiring a Certification in Education on graduation. He is also a proud holder of a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Maiduguri, and two Master’s degrees, the first, in History and another in Philosophy of Security Studies from Bandgladesh University of Professionals, Dhaka.
Gen. Buratai holds a retinue of certificates on courses attended from prestigious institutions both in Nigeria and abroad, including the National Defence College, Mirpur.
In his years of service in the Nigerian Army, the Army Chief has been tested and excelled on a dozen national assignments in Nigeria. And he has proved his mettle excellently in field operations as Commander, Sector 2 JTF Operation Pulo Shield; Operation Harmony in Bakassi Penninsular; Operation Safe Conduct; Operation Mesa; Operation Zaman Lafiya and Operation Lafiya Dole among others.
On the international scene, Gen. Buratai has served as Military observer, United Nations Verification Mission II in Angola and was Commander, Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) under the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin Republic, constituted with the mandate of joint military action on battling insurgency in the region, preceding his appointment as COAS.
Gen. Buratai’s credentials reveals him as one of the most decorated Army officer in Nigeria, parading distinguished honours and medals such 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 .
Gen. Buratai is also a proud recipient of the Brazilian Military Order of Merit Award for his outstanding and globally recognized leadership qualities in leading the Nigerian Army on the rewarding battle against terrorism and insurgency. It is the highest military honour in the country, conferred on him by President Michel Temer, thereby elevating him to the distinctive club of the few foreign dignitaries, to be so honoured by Brazil.
His contributions’ to terminating Boko Haram terrorism and other insurrectional forces in Nigeria and West Africa portrays him as an admirable soldier-hero. On assumption of office as COAS, Gen. Buratai was charged with the onerous, but sensitive assignment of ending the endemic Boko Haram terrorism and other allied acts of insurrections in the country.
Bile insurgency in Nigeria’s Northeast region had consolidated its dominion on the nation, ceaselessly visiting violent atrocities on vulnerable populations. No fewer than 22 LGAs in the Northeast were captured by insurgents, who declared it their “Islamic Caliphate.” Insurgents also established control, by foisting their emblems, after deposing local chiefs and installing their Emirs who superintended on the people.
Over 20, 000 Nigerians, mostly women and children, including the Chibok schoolgirls and the aged were silently abducted and held hostage in different Boko Haram secret camps. The captives were dehumanized in various ways, including forced marriages, sexual abuses, forced labour, tortures and brutal killings.
There were rampant raids of communities in Nigeria, and violent siege on private and public buildings, markets, shopping malls, banks, schools, motor parks and every other conceivable spot prone to attacks. Other budding terrorists sects like the IMN, IPOB, militancy in the Niger Delta, armed bandits and cattle rustlers, and other armed mercenaries masquerading as herders had collectively deepened the tempo of insecurity in Nigeria
Gen. Buratai promised to end this reign of terror on Nigeria. He reorganized and re-professionalized the Nigerian Army and redefined the contour of anti-terrorism combats, adopting novel and workable strategies and tactics. He took counter-insurgency operations to the doorsteps and hideouts of insurgents.
The Army Chief most times laced his boots, hopped into the trenches with troops and personally led combat expeditions against Boko Haram insurgents. By December of 2015, Nigerians registered the first respite against terrorism with the significant decimation of insurgents. The capacity of terrorists to recklessly struck was not only limited or weakened, but Nigerian troops began to retrieve captured territories under Boko Haram control.
And pleasantly, in the first few months of Year 2016, troops led by Buratai impressively reclaimed all Nigerian territories under the forceful seizure of insurgents, restored and asserted Nigeria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The Army Chief created a confounding record with this victory, as the world’s counter-terrorism leader to completely reclaim territories captured by terrorists in record time. The milestone attracted the eulogies from world leaders such as former US President, Mr. Barrack Obama and the then United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Mr. Banki-Moon.
Gen. Buratai again raged against terrorists by marching Nigerian troops to invade and munch the dreaded Sambisa forest, Boko Haram’s most fortified haven, in Borno state, which housed Boko Haram leaders and top commanders’. The demolition and demystification of Sambisa forest was the symbolic defeat of terrorism, as it shattered the coherence and capacity of insurgents to regroup in large numbers to unleash heinous atrocities on Nigeria.
Under his leadership of the Nigerian Army and counter-terrorism, Gen. Buratai has directly influenced the freedom of thousands of Nigerians held captive by terrorists including the Chibok and Dapchi schoolgirls. President Muhemmdu Buhari acknowledged this superlative performance in his 2018 Democracy Day speech in alluring prose as; “Today, the capacity of the insurgents has been degraded leading to the re-establishment of authority of government and the release of captives including, happily, 106 Chibok and 104 Dapchi girls, and over 16,000 other persons held by the Boko Haram.”
The Army Chief, an astute military strategist and tactician reminiscence of the famed Chinese war veteran, Sun Tzu generously applied his warfare ingenuity to the counter-insurgency operation. It absolutely led to the suppression of terrorists and their ability to freely spread terror on the people or embark on any territorial expansion in Nigeria.
This Army boss’s invincible tactics also resulted into the split and factionalization of terrorists into camps and the massive surrender of Boko top commanders and foot soldiers who publicly renounced terrorism.
He trailed any manifestation of terrorism and their veiled agents, wherever they detoured. Under his leadership, the Army monitored and effectively countered their changing tactics, including the switch over to cyberspace terrorism with fake and destructive propaganda, which led to the Army’s launching of counter -cyberspace terrorism. The recent establishment of the Nigerian Army Female Corp is one of the many initiatives by Buratai to arrest the incidence of female suicide bombers or carriers.
The Army Chief also engineered a package of rehabilitation of repentant terrorists through the de-militarization and de-radicalization. Most of the repentant victims have been eventually reunited and absorbed into their estranged communities.
Furthermore, shadows of his impact on curbing terrorism are also reflected in the massive rehabilitation and construction of social amenities in the Northeast region ravaged by years of insurgency. The gradual depletion of IDPs camps and the return of displaced persons to their villages and communities attests to the enthronement of peace.
He has etched a mark as Nigeria’s first COAS to exercise Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in diverse areas in all host communities while on special assignments. He scored another first as Nigeria’s only COAS to practically recognize the need for soldiers to protect the human rights and dignity of Nigerians while on special assignments. He established the first-ever functional Human Rights Desk at the Army Headquarters (AHQs) Abuja and its replication in all major Army Divisions, which expeditiously treat cases of rights violations or abuses by Army personnel anywhere in Nigeria.
Today, Nigeria and indeed, the entire world have acknowledged Gen. Buratai as a soldier and foresighted leader who has worked very assiduously in the hardest and most dangerous terrains for the liberation of his country and region from the claws of terrorism.
He is a soldier and leader who is propelled by unalloyed patriotism and loyalty to his country in all his engagements. Gen. Buratai’s capacity to halt the entrenchment of ISIS, West African Province in Nigeria, by the defeat of Boko Haram terrorism has descended the aura of freedom on the region, which unarguably is the biggest signpost of his enormous contributions to global peace.
He is feted within and outside the country as a fearless soldier and leader, whose remarkable and striking legacies would remain effervescent from generations to generations, when the history of Nigeria, West Africa; the entire African continent and the world in general on its sustained struggles to subdue terrorism is recounted.
Today, thousands of readers of TheNigerian, an online news portal headquartered in London have deemed Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai, eminently qualified and worthy of a special recognition ,with the conferment of the 2018 Millennium Achievers Award. He is not only being recognized for his immense contributions to extinguishing the fires of global terrorism and insurgency but sustaining the tempo and making Nigeria safe for humanity.