By Uche John Madu
In the deepest recesses of Naija’s Northeast, quiet mountains and hills in the underbelly of Adam state quaked vigorously. Sounds of artillery fire and gunpowder competed in distilling insanity and sanctity. Birds revolted by chirruping voices of dissent against the Boko criminal gangs. They polluted the eerie, breezy evening by terminating the desire of souls wishing to retire for early night rest.
The cursed Boko gangs came, but were repelled by Naija forces. The dingdong sound in the trenches and atop mountains conveyed the extent the Boko gangs had been uprooted aground by Naija Sojas. They could not light a fire!
Panic, exasperation and anxiety replaced comportment and Naija people thought the end to their wretched lives had come. But it was all a fluke.
No! Salvation nosed in their backyard at the ninth hour. Wailing voices of trapped Naija people turned into laughter. The “Lieutnant General Powell ,” personally led troops on the land assault on invaders.
Boko Haramists had touched sore nerves and they paid dearly, in deaths and abandoned weapons when Naija forces staged repelling combat. For hours, the loud sounds of weapons resonated, but eventually melted into silence. The harmists had been flattened in expiration. The wounded licked their wounds; the dead became meals for wild vultures and reptiles.
It was a day and a job accomplished. Troops filed back triumphantly to base, in admirations and cheers by locals. One nightmare has eclipsed into the joy of a bright dawn.
Lieutenant General Powell and his troops pulled out from the warfront, after another batch of Sojas had replaced the battalion he led to the warfront. He proceeded to the Military Battalion Base in Yola.
At the camp, sojas of the larger “Operation Victory Forever “ had just finished their dinner and lighted bonfire for the usual dose of evening time-out. It was a daily ritual which afforded troops time to unwind and review operations of the day to re-strategize.
Mood at the Battalion Base electrified and the sit-out at the camp fire that day was expected to be long. They had an august visitor, General Soldier, Soji, who could neither be served a meal or drink, but would depart satisfied that Naija forces are in good stead.
So, troops waited anxiously and excitedly at his arrival. Soon, Warrant Officer Barnes , bellowed, “atteeeenshon!!.” Soldiers stood erect as they gave their boss warm military salute and compliments. Powell sharply acknowledged the salute with cheers.
He strolled round the file of troops, gazing and smiling at delighted faces. It was his peculiar; charming posture which endeared officers and men of Naija forces to him. Stern, thorough and very disciplined, but his infectious fatherly aura dissolves the most hardened hearts.
The night was quite friendly and inviting; one such nights where village night crawlers hungered for a play or walk to the village market square. The neon rays of the moon brightened the Military Battalion Base, illuminating silhouetted environs. One could see far into the darkness, without blurring images.
Lt. Gen Powell echoed; “You are welcome back from today’s routine operations.”
“I congratulate all of you! What have been your experiences?” he asked the troops.
“Its being a wonderful operation,” said the Battalion Commander, Brig, Gen. Charles .
Brig. Gen Charles continued, “It was a resounding expedition. We are excited at the exploits. We have been able to capture some terrorists, and pushed the remnants of insurgents, farther afield outside the shores of Nigeria.”
“That’s good,” chipped Lieutenant General Powell . “More comments. Any operational hiccups? ” he asked.
Major. Gen. Abraham, the General Commander, chipped, “Sir, it was splendid. And I think, with the streak of successes so far, we’re sure of completing the clearance operations in the next few weeks in this axis.”
“That’s a good one too,” Lieutenant General Powell quipped.
Having listened to troops speak glowingly about the latest operations, Lieutenant Gen. Powell cleverly shifted attention to what has been boggling his mind. There were speculations’ about some grumbling soldiers on the warfront. He wanted to hear directly from the troops how they felt about their welfare.
He began, “But generally, I want us to interact and frankly too. I want to know if there are any operational problems you have encountered in the camps.”
“I know your excellent performance depends on your dedication and commitment to this assignment. It depends on the extent we meet our own obligations to you. I am your servant and here to listen to you,” General Powell enticed.
There was silence for a while. And then Major Smart broke the stillness and pin-drop silence.
“ I am not sure, there is a problem, anywhere, sir. We are fed timely and with delicious varieties of delicacies. We have enough stock of arms and ammunitions; enough to make Boko Haram terrorists kick their ass anytime, we confront them,” Major Smart stated.
Another officer, who was eager to be heard, added a voice, when his raised hand alone could not attract the needed attention. “Excuse me, sir,” Col. Johnbosco pleaded.
“Yes, Yes! Can we listen to Col. l Johnbosco ,” Powell said.
Pleasantly surprised, that the General Soldier could identify him by name from a distance, Col. Johnbosco took a deep breath and thundered;
“Sir, we owe our Commander-In-Chief, President Mai Geskiya and yourself, a debt of gratitude. I have been on the battlefield at different times before now. But never has it been so good with us on welfare packages like now under your leadership.”
“Just yesterday, my wife messaged me of receiving salary alert for this month, which has five more days to end. Our operational allowances are paid regularly. I am happy; we’re happy,” the Lt. Colonel said.
“That’s alright!, and I hope you shall reciprocate the good gestures of President Mai Geskiya by completely routing out terrorists from our nation? asked General Soldier, Soji.
A thunderous “yeeeees” rented the air.
An excited Lieutenant General Powell gave them a brief sermon on why Mai Geskiya has accorded ultimate priority to troops welfare.
“We are soldiers operating in the 21st century and not some analogue age,” he said.
“The leadership of our country has recognized that for military to effectively combat wars these days, especially, the asymmetrical terrorism warfare, it is serious business. We believe allowing issues of welfare of troops either on the battlefield or at it affects their beloved families at home to linger unresolved, means creating the cracks of disillusion and defeat of your own troops by enemy forces,” Lieutenant General Powell explained.
He expanded the more, “We know, it is our sacred responsibility to ensure the physical and psychological comfort of troops at all times to enhance their operational competence and performance”.
“We know a soldier who goes to the warfront, thinking about the source of his next meal would have divided attention.”
He punctuated, “Preparing troops for a major assignment such as the counter-insurgency operations does not mean providing the most modern and sophisticated weapons alone. Welfare is key and we’re committed never to renege on this obligation to our troops.”
Lieutenant General Powell continued; “the strings of successes’ and victories in our counter-insurgency operations are evidence of the results of the sustained priority given to matters affecting troops from all angles.”
“We are happier, when you are happy; doing the daunting and tasking job of defending and protecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Nigeria, ” he added.
There was dead silence as Naija forces listened to their boss in rapt attention.
“ It is the sure way to boost your morale, inspire your spirit of patriotism and loyalty to our dear country, Naija. A Military Force Army without patriotism is ragtag security,” he said.
He assured, “As long as President Mai Geskiya remains the numero uno of the Armed Forces of Naija; so long as I remain your immediate boss, we can never let you down in anyway.”
“Naija people are praying for us every minute. And we shall also continue to pray to God for ourselves; to give us strength and wisdom to come out of this adventure, intact and victorious,” Lt. Gen Powell encouraged the troops.
“ I want you to know, that Naija forces are the toast of every nation now. We’re proud of you and only a fool can throw away a priceless gift.”
“We have won battles and we aren’t kidding that we shall win consolidate on our victory over the terrorists too. Do not allow disgruntled elements sow the seed of discord amongst you. It is a certified means of dampening your spirit for Boko Haram insurgency to thrive,” Powell cautioned.
“I want to thank every one of you for your individual and collective efforts in this assignment. I sight the day of victory, very close to us and so, we must not relent.”
He pleaded, “Please, can we take the closing remarks as you retire to your duty posts and don’t forget that vigilance should continue to be your watch word.”
A tall, skinny officer, commanding one of the Platoons stepped out to speak.
“ I have the mandate of my colleagues, to extend our appreciation to President Mai Geskiya and the Lieutenant General Powell for their faithfulness to us and committed leadership,“ Col. Jackson stated.
“ Sir, we’re emboldened by your words of encouragement and fatherly leadership. You adorn your military “khaki” and hop into the trenches and jungles with us. It is rare and an exceptional style of leadership by example. When you go back to headquarters, tell all our bosses that we’re more determined to terminate the reign of terrorism now than ever before. None of us will falter, until we deliver to Naija people, a country, free from terrorism” Col. Jackson assured.
Lieutenant General Powell bade them good night and disappeared into the still night. He was not headed for a romance of his camp bed. Rather, he veered into the next camp to have another interface with troops at a different battalion.
Uche, a freelance writer sent in this article from Lagos.