By David Onmeje
In the annals of the Nigerian Army, there has never been a time where the Nigerian Army had a Chief of Army Staff who upon appointment hit the ground running like a wounded lion. I recall when he was appointed and churned out his vision for the Nigerian Army, some called it grandstanding and that he would burn out soon.
Some went as far as saying the grandstanding were typical of those who just assumed office and therefore warned members of the unsuspecting public not to be carried away by the posture and thus drew conclusions from the initial stages.
I was one of those that disagreed with the hasty classification of Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, as one of those Chief of Army Staff because I have had the privilege of scrutinizing his records in the Nigerian Army. I stand to be corrected. Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai in his leadership of the Nigerian Army had been able to do what others dare not venture. He confronted these issues headlong, and today, the Nigerian Army is better for it.
Brilliant as this may sound, the transformation witnessed in the Nigerian Army in the past four years have been phenomenal for want of a better expression. For clarity purposes, I have decided to take the issues under four subheadings.
The first is in the area of promotions to deserving officers and soldiers. Under the leadership of Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, there have been constant promotions as at when due, which in my opinion is indeed a strategy aimed at bolstering the confidence of the service towards effective service delivery. Moreover, this has paid off handsomely with the renewed vigour that is being experienced in the Nigerian Army and mostly responsible for the successes recorded in the fight against terrorism and other militant groups in Nigeria.
The promotion of Lamidi Adeosun to the rank of a Lt. Gen in reward for patriotism and his exploits in the fight against terrorism is just an example worthy of mention. We have also had instances where the Chief of Army Staff would visit troops in the frontlines and decorate officers and soldiers with new ranks. If this is not a masterstroke, I don’t know what else to call it.
The second area is the issue of welfare for officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army. This is a critical area in my opinion in the sense that before now, the issue of welfare for the Nigerian Army has taken centre stage with a call for a reform that would see that officers and soldiers are taken care of adequately. This is one area that the Chief of Army staff has fared brilliantly well. There abound tales of improvements in the remunerations of the officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army, so much so to the envy of other services in the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
There has been an improvement in the living conditions in most Army barracks across the country. The case of Ojo cantonment is one case study that is worthy of mention where it was like a carnival-like event during the commissioning of projects in the cantonment for the benefits of families of officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army.
Under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, there has been an introduction of a great reward system that encourages selfless and patriotic acts by officers and men of the Nigerian Army. Also, according to impeccable sources within the Nigerian Army, it has paid off handsomely with the renewed commitment to the protection of the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
The issue of patriotism is another area where the dynamic leadership of Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai has recorded tremendous achievements. Those in the know of things within the Nigerian Army circles readily attest to the dynamic leadership style of the Chief of Army Staff.
The invaluable role played in protecting Nigeria’s nascent democracy during the 2019 general elections would serve as a reference point on patriotism in the annals of the country in the years to come. However, but for the intervention of the Nigerian Army, Nigeria would have gone up in flames with the plot by some unscrupulous elements to interfere with the wishes of the people in an attempt to set the country on fire.
I recall that before the elections, the Nigerian Army launched a 24-hour situation room to respond to incidences of security breaches across the country within the shortest possible time. This initiative was hailed by various stakeholders as a first in the annals of the country. And guess what? The Nigerian Army was able to monitor events across the country and responded adequately and promptly in areas where security breaches were recorded.
I guess that a particular category of politicians in the country who were used to business, as usual, were disappointed with their inability to carry out their electoral mischief due to the firm stance of the Nigerian Army who stood neutral all through the elections. Also, this was made possible by the firm position of the Chief of Army Staff who made it clear to all and sundry that it was not going to be business as usual and he lived up to his words.
I must quickly add that the commitment of the Chief of Army Staff to entrenchment and protection of democracy in Nigeria is indeed legendary and should serve as a reference point to other countries in the world.
I can go on non-stop on the leadership style of the Chief of Army Staff because he has indeed through his actions redefined the concept of the sincerity of heart and purpose. Whether we like it or yes, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai has shown that with a strong commitment, nothing is impossible under the sun if only we believe.
Lt. Gen Turkur Buratai would remain my hero any day anytime, and I believe that his leadership style should be a subject of rigorous academic research with the aim of documentation to serve as a guide for the upcoming generation on leadership studies.
At this point, I believe that those that posited that Lt Gen Tukur Buratai is a fluke would have a rethink and give him all the support he needs in this critical point of our existence. As stated in numerous forums, some stay awake in the dead of the night to confront those that want to steal our peace. I salute his courage and encourage him to continue to give his best in service to fatherland. Also, if a fraction of the population of Nigeria shares the same mentality with him, Nigeria would indeed be a better place for us and the generation unborn.
Onmeje wrote from the United Kingdom.