By: Yemi Ola
In the ancient world of the Greeks, philosopher kings were venerated and revered by the gravity of their wisdom. They had a fascinating foresight and knowledge, which elevated their status beyond ordinary mortals by the sheer veracity of their wittiness.
In modern Africa, Mr. Nelson Mandela, pioneer democratic President of South Africa and the unbendable guru of anti-apartheid struggles in Africa represent these ancient philosopher kings in aura and the timelessness of his prophetic power of wisdom.
Mandela must have had Nigeria’s current Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai in mind years back, when he prophesied that “The world will not respect Africa, until Nigeria earns that respect. The black people of the world need Nigeria to be great as a source of pride and confidence.”
Lt. Gen. Buratai has been anointed by divine forces to serve as the springboard in consummating this prophecy. It is indisputable, like Mandela asserted that with Buratai’s Pan- Africanist inclination, her people have seen the Biblical Moses of their time and a liberator of the continent by his profound statement and pragmatism about Africa’s greatness.
Buratai’s credentials of liberation in the battle against terrorism has been re-echoed in many climes around the world. The recent African Leadership Magazine award conferred on Buratai is yet another fulfillment of this scripture nearer home, as ‘Prophet’ Nelson Mandela was inspired to divulge years back.
So, whether Nigeria’s foes scream ferociously at Buratai or enemies explode at him with passions of hate, it has never blurred the sight of a conscious world from acknowledging this rare Nigerian and a special gift to Africa. Buratai is always figured out from the midst of shining stars as very unique Nigerian Army General cum African.
Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) dread Buratai; the sect’s foreign sponsors/conspirators and internal agents within Nigeria despise him or Nigerian soldiers for vanquishing the reign of terror on the people. But it does not stop Nigerians, Africa and the international community in unabatedly feting an exceptional, enigmatic soldier of modern times.
Lt. Gen. Buratai’s shelf of awards or recognitions again swelled within the week with the award conferred on him by the African Leadership Magazine. The Leadership magazine itself is published by African Leadership (UK) Limited, a company registered in the United Kingdom.
Its priorities include, exposing the best and the finest aspects of the cultures and traditions of Africa and Africans to the global table of progress and also celebrating the continent’s unbeatable personalities in all disciplines. It delights in narrating the African story from an African perspective and at the same time; proffering sound panaceas to the dozen peculiar challenges of the continent today to stir robust debates and actions.
The medal by African Leadership Magazine to Lt. Gen. Buratai was tagged “Special Recognition Award in Fight Against Terrorism.” The event was held at Sandro Sun Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa and Ghana’s immediate past President, Dr. John Dramani Mahama decorated Buratai in absentia, but through a worthy representative, Major Gen. Peter Dauke, the General Officer Commanding 3 Division.
The Thursday’s award to Lt.Gen Buratai is a further confirmation of his imposing positive shadows on Africa and the globe generally. Again, an analysis of the decoration of the Nigerian Army Chief with an award by African Leadership Magazine reveal the very interesting, innovative and focused leadership of the Nigerian Army (NA) by the Borno state-born Army General. Like in preceding awards, Lt.Gen. Buratai emerged topmost from an array of high profile Africans tipped for such recognition.
The panelists deemed the Army boss unsurpassable for the award, not just because of defeating the hitherto dreaded BHTs, but for also professionally repositioning the NA as soldiers who can loudly trumpet the continent’s progressive qualities in militarism. Many may not sense or may underrate the threats the Iranian ISIS’s-backed BHTs posed to the African continent. That the terrorists adopted Nigeria’s platform, Africa’s giant as their launching pad for terrorism is explicable and spurred for strategic reasons.
The evil calculation against African people is that in the event terrorism overwhelms and annexes Nigeria, no country on the continent can summon the courage to face the terrorists or deal with terrorism. Nigeria’s defeat of terrorism is Africa’s symbolic defeat of terrorism, just like the triumph of Nigeria over BHTs is also emblematic of the victory of Africa over the evil of terrorists. Thus far, Buratai has made a loud, Pan-Africanist statement to the world that Africa is capable and has the strength to defeat terrorism within record time.
Lt.Gen. Buratai has remained a pleasant reference point in this struggle because since his appointment as Nigeria’s COAS in July 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari, he spared nothing to crush Boko Haram insurgents. Indeed, Nigerians are lucky for Buhari to have discovered one of her finest Army Generals in Buratai to crusade and lead the prosecution of the anti-terrorism campaigns and other acts of violent criminality that odiously became the past time of some Nigerians, who are ennobled by foreign allies.
Under Buratai, Nigerian soldiers have not only demonstrated valour in the battlefield against terror, but have shown the capacity and interest to liberate Nigeria nay Africa, without necessarily violating the rules of engagements on such special assignments.
Nigerians began to see a new breed of soldiers because the Army boss introduced numerous internal reforms, which manifested in the showcase of a professional and result-orientated army. Buratai emulated the footprints of President Buhari by instituting transparency, accountability, equity and fairness in the administration of the Nigerian Army.
For the first time in the history of Nigeria, Buratai established the Human Rights Desk at the Army Headquarters (AHQs) in Abuja, which he replicated in various units and commands of the NA to handle inadvertent cases of human rights violations or abuses. He ensured no soldier operated under the mistaken illusion that he could traduce any aspect of the reforms without being punished. Scores of soldiers who have had such complaints lodged against them by members of the public have been summarily disciplined by NA, a novel experience in Nigeria.
Lt.Gen. Buratai’s pan-African disposition is further advertised and greased by his penetrative interests in issues of security in Africa. In the places of foreign assignments he served particularly in Africa, like in the Angola and the Multi-National Joint Task Force (M-NJTF) the Army General distinguished himself as a unique professional soldier.
He ensured excellence wherever he served and perfectly combined soldiering and administrative leadership acumen to impact on the Army. Buratai’s present involvement in the return of durable peace in Nigeria’s ravaged Northeast and the voluntary enlistment of soldiers in the rebuilding efforts in the region are enviable qualities that have singled him out as a leader with a standing ovation at all times.
It explains the smartness with which he trailed Boko Haram insurgents and their veiled agents in Nigeria. He chased terrorists in the battlefield and when they resorted to cyber terrorism, Buratai was clairvoyant to notice the change in tactics by the enemies and switched over immediately. He developed counter-strategies against cyber terrorism against the army and Nigerians which worked effectively and rendered the enemies prostrate. Today, with Buratai on the saddle, terrorists or their agents have lost on all fronts.
Additionally, Buratai has a seamless working relationship with his subordinates and other arms of the military top hierarchy. Hardly do you see in him, the brashness and haughtiness military officers wear as badge everywhere they go. He personally leads soldiers at the battlefields. And in his office at the AHQs Abuja, Buratai plays host to every Nigerian who wishes to have audience with him.
With an infectious inviting mien, the Army General unconsciously disarms his rivals both in military and intellectual engagements. He remains a rare gem, an indefatigable soldier, a Peoples General and hero of all times in near and distant lands.
Many say a prophet is not honoured at home, but Buratai has broken this myth. He has been honoured at home and abroad. Like Mandele said, Africa and indeed, the black people are beginning to earn their respect in the comity of nations because Nigeria is being honoured in Buratai’s positive security exploits. This is Buratai’s sublime conversation with Mandela, the African epitome of freedom and selflessness.
Ola is a former member of the National Assembly and retired academic.