By Mike Msuaan
History is replete with accounts of wars right from the divinely sanctioned wars fought by the Israelites and their enemies to conquests carried out by world powers like the Ottoman Turks, the Christian Crusaders, the Romans and lots more. The greed for wealth and power inherent in man has always fuelled wars both for territorial expansion and the exploitation of resources in captured lands and territories. However, victory in any war is a product of the commander’s mastery of the art of war without which a humiliating defeat awaits him and his troops.
Warfare like every human endeavour has evolved progressively in line with the technology at that time. From the discovery of iron to the industrial and the technological era, wars have shifted from the use of arrows and spears and horses to the use of guns and heavy artillery to the use of bomber jets and automatic gun power to the use of robots, drones and bombs of different capacities and reach. Although so much technology has been used in warfare, nothing meaningful can be achieved if the soldiers in the battle front are ill-trained and in the hands of an inefficient commander.
Prominent war veterans like Napoleon Bonaparte who led the French in different outings and won victories accordingly to the infamous Adolf Hitler to the Chinese war veteran Sun Tzu to all the commanders of the holy wars and crusades to the veterans of the First and Second World War and modern wars in recent times, all had in mind the same objective of victory. However, what distinguished them either in the face of victory or defeat is their style of leadership as well as tactical and strategic skills in warfare.
One such professional and gentlemanly commander in the Nigerian army is the current Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, a fine and courageous officer whose training both in Nigeria and elsewhere has made him the best among his peers. Like every good commander who leads from the front, Buratai has shown dexterity only comparable to legends like Napoleon Bonaparte in the fight against insurgents and terrorists elements in Nigeria especially in the North East.
As an illustrious son of the Borno empire, it will not be an exaggeration to say that he takes over from his forbearers who were themselves great warriors albeit their lack of sophistication as is been demonstrated by their son in modern day Nigeria. His gallantry is significant especially as the rogue elements terrorizing the country have chosen his state of origin to display their cowardice and show of shame. Giving them a pound of their flesh is therefore this gentleman’s sole preoccupation and true to his words, the terrorists are scrambling to surrender and give up their evil and barbaric ways.
Nigeria has been taunted as a home of generals who have not seen the battle field except for the simulations they watch in the comforts of their training rooms, but this is not the case with TY Buratai. Deciding to prove average Nigerians that he is different has been a great blessing to Nigeria as a country who, for more than 10 years has been embarrassed and humiliated ill trained terrorist who have evaded successive commanders especially those who commandeered the war from the comforts of their offices in Abuja.
He has a carefully crafted war strategy and way of approaching which has served to change the perception of Nigerian troops in the eyes of their neighbours from people known with humiliating defeats to a force to reckon with. As a onetime commander of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTFH), he is aware of the challenges of the fight against terror and has done everything to bring that experience to bear on his current job with outstanding successes. Needless to say that, the dramatic change in the dynamics of the fight against terror is made possible thanks to the skilfulness and gallantry of TY Buratai.
Immediately after his appointed, he jetted out to the North East and began his historic assignment to Nigeria. It was in the North East that he unveiled the mission and vision for the Nigerian Army under his watch and also changed the name of Operation Zaman Lafiya to Operation Lafiya Dole as well as the establishment of other overt and covert operations he established to facilitate the war against terror. He could have sat in Abuja, enjoying all the good things his highly exalted office can provide leaving his subordinates to do the fighting since he has put the necessary strategies in place but he has decided to brave it himself. That’s how a good commander should go.
The Nigerian Army under the watch of Buratai has done much more than fighting and killing. This is because insurgency as is done in the North East of Nigeria a delicate activity which is done among civilian populations. Approach it from a soldiers point of view only did not yield the desired results so diplomacy and human feelings were introduced to win trust of the people and cushion the effects of terror on the affected people.
Relocating to the North East has shown that while others are running away, the army chief has taken upon himself the task of making sure the North East is cleared of all renegades whose stock in trade is to cause havoc and deny the region of quality development.
It is worthy of note that the army chief has not usurped the powers of the operational commanders but has undertaken to periodically visit them and encourage them as they administer their combat units to ensure professionalism at all time. This has helped in no small measure in ensuring smooth and coordinated operations and hence the victory.
As a seasoned scholar in military warfare, Buratai has not disappointed his alumni’s from where the history and art of war has been so generously bequeathed on him. As a historian, he has read and understood war and the best way to fight it both as it was in the ancient era and in modern warfare which is multifaceted and filled with propaganda.
In modern warfare, fighting the enemy alone is not enough as there are many online bullies and other virtual entities that profit over the war efforts and can do anything to discredit ones efforts so as to prolong human misery for selfish gains. This is made worse in the era of social media where mischief makers turn themselves into half-baked journalists with the sole intent to misinform and harm all positive efforts in bringing normalcy. This strategy, although deployed from all angles has not deterred the army chief from doing his job with glaring results for all to see.
Buratai has written his name in history as the Napoleon of the Nigerian fight against insurgents as the first courageous army chief to sacrifice his comfort for the victory of his dear country. He has chosen to use his training to improve the professional conduct of Nigeria troops and his must be kind to him.
Msuaan, a public affairs commentator writes from Kaduna.