By Nkechi Odoma
Within a week, the dark clouds which hovered on Northwest region as a result of the activities of armed bandits and their conspiratorial criminal gangs started vanishing. It is a reflection of the instant actions Nigerian Army, led by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and overseer of the counter-insurgency operations, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai.
The COAS has always played the messianic role for Nigerians under threats of extermination. In the latest instance, Gen. Buratai responded to the Presidential order directing an immediate termination, in whichever way possible, all acts of criminalities disrupting the peace and security of the area and Nigeria.
And as identifiable with Gen. Buratai’s heroism, armed bandits and other linked criminal gangs in the Northwest are now bleeding regrettably from the fresh military firepower confronting them in forests and caves of the region. The numero uno soldier in Nigeria has docked his warmongering troops in the zone. Both natives and residents know, the Army is the only saving grace in the present circumstance.
The yelling of voices of liberation in all dictions are reverberating again and again in the zone. Even the sick, the crippled and all those emotionally or psychologically weakened by months of aggressions on their souls have suddenly garnered strength and loud chants of liberation have proclaimed heavenly bliss.
Women, children, the aged and everyone regales with the news. Natives, farmers, traders, businessmen and genuine leaders are excited that a indeed, the long-awaited redeemer and unsung master of insurgencies and insurrections in Nigeria, Gen. Buratai has responded to their lamentations. The season of agonies and sorrows instigated by wantonly massive extermination of lives, destruction of properties, hostage-taking of beloved ones and other inhuman acts, which punched the serenity of their ancestral abodes is all over.
The only persons reliably regretting the presence and shadows of Gen. Buratai and the troops of Nigeria Army in the Northwest are the armed bandits; their financiers, informants, logistics suppliers, leaders with soiled hands and the romanticists of the bandits. They are scared to the marrow. But innocent and law-abiding citizens in the tormented region are singing liberation lullabies, in loud echoes that Gen. Buratai, the disguised emancipation angel has finally arrived the endangered terrain. With troops already operating, the coast is getting clearer from the engulfed darkness with each passing day.
But before now, the wailings agonizingly sparked public protests in the North and assailed empathetic faces gloomily, across the nation. The tears on the faces of enslaved people are dissipating fast because Gen. Buratai , the protective angel God has donated to Nigeria’s counter-insurgency operations in disguise has moored the area against criminals or killers. But some Nigerians are still in slumber and so, have failed to recognize his numerous heroic deeds, mindless of the risks to his life and that of gallant soldiers for the sake of his beloved compatriots.
Nevertheless, in the Northwest like elsewhere, Gen. Buratai is not in a strange terrain. He is neither a dunce on the field of battle or war strategies and tactics. Armed bandits, sponsors and enablers are already groaning under first week of his application of Super Camp Strategy IV. He has a bagful of them.
And certainly, the enemies of Nigeria who have escaped his initial dangling sword to take shield in in distant lands are troubled. By now, they would be subjected to eating uncooked rodents and reptiles or wild animals wherever their fate has dumped them in the obscurest dingy forests of the Northwest and its extension into in Niger state, near Abuja in North Central Nigeria. But they will be fished out eventually.
Gen. Buratai, the humane, indomitable soldier, a warmonger of rare courage and dexterous leader, who leads the counter-insurgency operations knows, the lives of Nigerians in the way of harm by threats of enemies are topmost than his own personal life and the lives or troops. Therefore, he constantly delves into the frontlines and trenches to fight alongside troops against enemies to protect Nigerians.
Buratai is uncompromising about the counter-insurgency operations or knocking the ganged criminals to shape and teaching latter-day repentant of the sect how to become responsible citizens to their families, communities and Nigeria. Had Boko Haram any slightest opening to kill Buratai in cold blood on the warfront, they would have done it long ago. And that’s why many Nigerians classify him variously as a heroic hero.
And even when you relapse to his former endearing epaulets, the people referred to him as “The Peoples General,” “The Peoples Hero,” or and, the “Generalissimo General,” aligned with the famed warriors of the ancient Benin Kingdom in the colonial wars of resistance and conquests in Nigeria.
But Gen. Buratai has trudged this path a long way and still tireless. He has come enduringly on the turf of battle. Only those in their comfort zones, who have never felt the pinch of terror in their lives take Gen. Buratai for a mincemeat derisively. However, those who encounter his heroic acts knows and bows before him anytime he is sighted on the battlefield. So, his exploits are relieving to the rescuers in more nuances than imagined by outsiders, far ostracized from the pangs of war.
Excitingly, Gen. Buratai has faced the fire of insurgencies and sustained it over the last five years. More beguiling about his heroism, Gen. Buratai deflected the fires of insurgents who ambushed his person and convoy. It was in August 2015, barely two months after he assumed office as COAS. Boko Haram insurgents tested Gen. Buratai’s might around Mafa village in Northeastern Borno, while on tour of troops locations.
Impressively, instead of bidding an effeminate retreat from the ambush and hastening back to Maiduguri, under the protective cover of troops, Gen. Buratai demonstrated his valour and bravery by personally leading troops to clear the ambush. And in the ensuing clash with the terrorists, at least five terrorists were neutralized.
In a media interview years later, Gen. Buratai recounted that “I was with them and my convoy was ambushed by Boko Haram. Instead of withdrawing back to Maiduguri, I said, ‘No! We are in this together, I can’t go back. We must all go together to clear the ambush.”
Recounting this experience further, Gen. Buratai stated that, “So I advanced with them and that was how we cleared the ambush. If the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) does not turn back, who would turn and run from such an ambush? I advanced with the troops and it paid off.”
It was his close shave with death in the hands of insurgents. Boko Haram insurgents would have sniffed life out of him in the ambush. But Gen. Buratai was not scared by this possibility as he went after the insurgents.
Additionally, Nigerians can establish the extent Niger Delta militancy in the South-South region caused nightmares to foreign oil workers and the locals. Constant blowing-up of oil installations and facilities as well as kidnaps by militants dislocated the social and economic lives of the people. It imposed fear, uncertainty and gloom on the lives of Niger Deltans, exacerbated by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) which plotted to declare a republic of the Niger Delta. But Gen. Buratai heroically led troops to blight the armed violence and restiveness in the region.
Similarly, the Southeast region came under the satanic grip of secession agitators, from the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu. It was an assemblage of miscreants, hoodlums, and other criminals who adopted IPOB as a platform to terrorize the Southeast region and destabilize Nigeria. They committed heinous crimes, including extra-judicial killings through slitting of the throats of their victims and dumping their corpses in the river. They were dreaded by other security agents, which the sect also murdered in cold blood frequently.
Like the Niger Delta Avengers, IPOB also fixed a date to illegally declare a republic of Biafra; intimidated, harassed and coerced people in almost all parts of the region to compulsorily associate with them or risk death. Again, it was Gen. Buratai who placed a wedge on the progression of this aberration and restored peace and security to law abiding and innocent citizens of the South eastern part of Nigeria.
The Northeast region became a dreaded warfront since Boko Haram terrorists established its stronghold in the area. While not spiting any officer, but truth be told that Gen. Buratai’s predecessors feared even mere tour of troops deployed to the region to battle insurgents. They remained in the confines of their offices in Abuja and churned out directives. But Buratai broke the jinx by making the warzone his permanent residential abode.
The Army Chief had on a number of occasions laced his boots and joined troops in the trenches to battle terrorists to a standstill. He personally led the operation of the invasion and demystification of the dreaded Sambisa forest in 2016 by Nigerian troops. It was a success by very measure.
As mark of his heroic exploits, Gen. Buratai has again, currently relocated to the Northeast battlefield, coordinating and directing troops clearance operations in the region to finally rout out residues of Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists. Rewardingly, hundreds of terrorists have been neutralized within the few weeks he is in the frontlines directing the counter-insurgency operations.
Flowing from his courageous and heroic exploits, Gen. Buratai is for the umpteenth time leading troops to quench the fire of armed bandits, cattle rustlers and other criminals in the Northwest region with the staging of “Operation Sahel Sanity.” The intervention of the Army within a week has witnessed the neutralization of over 100 bandits, release of scores of kidnapped victims, and arrests of several accomplices to the acts of criminalities, troubling the region.
Those arrested include, bandits’ informants, logistics suppliers and, those who shield or shelter armed bandits. A large quantum of arms and ammunitions have also been seized at various locations from bandits. It is an indication that at last, hope of exculpation from bandits is extremely high and succor has finally come for entrapped people in the Northwest.
Odoma wrote this piece from Abuja.