Lt–Gen. Tukur Buratai: soldier and historian, has a place in history. If it’s correct that no list of the greatest people of the 20th century is complete without General George C Marshall and that of the World War II without Winston Churchill, the world will remember Buratai as the ‘organiser of victory’ and ‘the last great Nigerian soldier’ in the fight against terrorism.
His choice by President Muhammadu Buhari as the Chief of Army Staff was spot on. Not because he hails from the terrorism-ravaged state of Borno, but because of the professionalism and military dispatch with which he carried out the assignment of routing the mindless Boko Haram that slaughtered children, men and women in the North-eastern part of the country.
Courageously foxy, brutal in mien and disposition and deliberate in the deployment of troops, Buratai will enter the pantheon of war heroes, if as the Defence Headquarters said, the expedition will be over before the three months deadline given to uproot the terrorists by President Buhari.
Unlike his predecessors who barked orders from the comfort zones of their offices in Abuja or preferred to grandstand in Aso Rock, Buratai was on the field with the troops.
Wednesday morning, he led Nigerian troops on a field inspection of the recaptured strategic town of Gamboru Ngala in Borno State, crossing a bridge to Fatokol where a huge crowd of Nigerians received them with cheers and tears of joy.
An appreciative director of defence Information (DDI), Col. Rabe Abubakar, enthused, “these terrorists have been subdued, even if they are adopting other means and are re-strategising, we are also doing the same and pre-empting them.
“So, right now, they are completely in disarray, have no command and control of where to plan. We have even taken over their camps that most of them abandoned and are attempting to blend into towns and communities. We have also apprehended some of them and very soon, innocent Nigerians can move back to their communities.”
The war against terror took a different turn since July 13 when the rotund service chiefs were replaced with new ones, who, apparently more apolitical, discharged their duties as officers and gentlemen.
Buratai, who had been in the trenches with the troops as the commander of the Multinational Joint Task Force which has its headquarters in N’Djamena, Chad, all the same came to the fore, shooting from the hips and with all barrels.
He exhibited the uncommon canny to identify with the troops. He exercised with them, ate with them and boosted their morale through welfare packages, including adequate supply of drugs, equipment, compensation with accelerated promotion for deserving gallant soldiers on the field and ensuring that those unjustly court-martialled were given reprieve. At the last count, 3,032 officers and men who would have either been sent to their early graves or imprisoned have regained their love for soldiering, for God and country.
But the 20th Chief of Army Staff could also be weird. Said to be an accomplished infantry senior officer, he enjoys the company of wild reptiles and rears snakes. He has two snakes farms in Nasarawa State and keeps some in his personal house in Mararaba on the outskirts of the nation’s capital.
Commissioned in 1983, there has been no time that his multiple command, administrative and instructional appointments over his 34 years illustrious career has been called to service more than now. His meritorious discharge of the responsibility at once, restored the confidence of the civil populace in our military as it called to question the judgement, integrity and professionalism of those who had superintended the fight against terror since it broke out in 2009 and for which over 5,000 lives have been reportedly lost.
Born November 24, 1960 in Buratai town in Biu local government area of Borno State that has suffered greatly from the brutal threat of the Boko Haram group, General Buratai is a highly decorated officer. He is a Member of Historical Society of Nigeria, with two Master’s Degrees, one in History from the University of Maiduguri and another in Philosophy from the Bangladesh University of Professionals, Dhaka.
Buratai attended the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Course in the year 2000 at Cornwallis Park, Annapolis county, Nova Scotia, Canada and the United Nations Staff and Logistics Officers Course, India. At the height of militancy in the Niger Delta, he was also called upon to quell the uprising. These must have equipped him for the assignment that will place him in the nation’s hall of fame as a soldier-statesman.