Bu­ratai’s bat­tles and con­quests

Daily Trust - - OPINION - By Okanga Agila

Iwas driv­ing through the Cen­tral Busi­ness District in Abuja when it struck me that those con­crete eye­sores used to fence off many key in­sti­tu­tions in the city have been re­moved and roads that were once bar­ri­caded as a re­sult of the makeshift con­trap­tions have been opened to traf­fic. This of course does not in­clude the ar­eas around the FCT Po­lice Com­mand in Garki. The bar­ri­cades went up at the height of Boko Haram ex­ploits when se­cu­rity or­ga­ni­za­tions rec­og­nized them­selves as po­ten­tial tar­get for a ter­ror group that more or less swept down all the way from Maiduguri in the north­east, through Abuja, into Lokoja and was on the way to the na­tion’s coastal cities.

The bar­ri­cades and the sense of siege they im­posed left Abuja same as the ad­vance of Boko Haram was halted, re­versed and the ter­ror group routed. The change came as a re­sult of the de­ci­sive ap­point­ments of sea­soned mil­i­tary chiefs among whom is the Chief of Army Staff, Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Tukur Yusufu Bu­ratai. The ex­ploit of the Nige­rian Army, in con­junc­tion with other ser­vices, has the im­print of Gen­eral Bu­ratai writ­ten on it.

My drive through the Cen­tral Busi­ness District hap­pened to have co­in­cided with the day Gen­eral Bu­ratai and his col­leagues clocked one year in of­fice in their re­spec­tive duty posts. In those 365 days, towns and vil­lages that Boko Haram had cap­tured have been lib­er­ated. In ad­di­tion, sev­eral of the ter­ror­ists have been killed, cap­tured or have sim­ply ab­sconded from the group.

Sev­eral com­men­ta­tors have put down the mea­sure of suc­cess recorded against the ter­ror­ists to Gen­eral Bu­ratai’s abil­ity to in­spire the of­fi­cers and troops to ex­cel. He was fore­front with the troops tak­ing part in their rou­tine and more re­cently he was there with them in the trenches. He ate the ra­tion they ate and drank the wa­ter they drank. True to his Com­man­der in Chief’s or­der, he stayed fast with the troops, away from the comfort of the posh of­fices in Abuja that had made the city a choice tar­get for Boko Haram sui­cide bombers.

Per­haps less ob­vi­ous was the fact that Gen­eral Bu­ratai al­lowed another war or­dered by his Com­man­der in Chief to suc­ceed. Had he been less sup­port­ive, the anti-cor­rup­tion ef­forts that ex­posed the arms pro­cure­ment scam might not have achieved as much. He sup­ported the ex­po­sure of the scam and its on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion even though he knows that this would make him en­e­mies within and out­side the ser­vice.

He cer­tainly is no stranger to such bat­tles, of wits, morals and pa­tri­o­tism. The world barely knows that Bu­ratai had faced sim­i­lar chal­lenges in the past and came out stronger. What has changed com­pared to his pre­vi­ous bat­tles against those op­posed to trans­parency is that he is in a dif­fer­ent po­si­tion now. Be­yond fight­ing for what he be­lieves in he must also make con­sid­er­a­tions for na­tional in­ter­est, which might have lim­ited his abil­ity to re­ply his crit­ics.

This is why he has to again fight another bat­tle other than the Boko Haram in­sur­gents in the the­ater of war. Those whose mil­i­tant com­man­ders and fight­ers were de­feated have moved the bat­tle to the me­dia and cy­ber space. But even on these fronts Bu­ratai trounced his ac­cusers who have so far not been able to do more than talk in cir­cles, pass­ing off con­jec­tures as facts.

In one in­stance, the schemers got des­per­ate to the point of at­tempt­ing to say Bu­ratai was in charge of the De­fence Pro­cure­ment re­port just to in­dict him. The plot failed as the mem­bers of the panel were sharply di­vided and some of them later leaked what was planned to the press. Those seek­ing to use the re­port to dam­age Bu­ratai’s rep­u­ta­tion have to beat a re­treat and are still look­ing for another way to do bat­tle with him. Who knows what next they plan to do.

The in­ten­sity of this hid­den war is best ap­pre­ci­ated when one re­al­ize that the whole is­sue is a scheme or­ches­trated by peo­ple close to the gov­ern­ment. They have the re­sources to fab­ri­cate dirt that suits the lies they want to tell against their vic­tim, they have the funds to throw into paid me­dia cam­paigns that are tai­lored to look like well in­ves­ti­gated news sto­ries and they have the baits to dan­gle and re­cruit per­sons who or­di­nar­ily were re­garded as es­teemed opin­ion lead­ers.

This is why it seems the pro­pa­ganda is get­ting the back­ing of well mean­ing Nige­ri­ans. In re­al­ity, the pro­pa­ganda is merely be­ing hi­jacked both by yes­ter­day men in need of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, ques­tion­able in­ter­est groups and po­lit­i­cally wounded cor­rupt politi­cians. There are even re­li­gious sects that are on the train for a ride to take a re­venge for when their bid at ex­trem­ism was de­ci­sively quashed by a pa­tri­otic army.

The sin­is­ter plot is al­ready back­fir­ing how­ever and God is pay­ing the schemers back in their own coins. They are al­ready be­ing tor­mented emo­tion­ally. Se­ri­ous guilt and des­per­a­tion are haunt­ing them. As far as the law of nat­u­ral jus­tice goes they will even­tu­ally keep a date with reck­on­ing.

From the be­gin­ning of the world, when you fight the sta­tus quo, it fights back. But Bu­ratai is driven by pa­tri­o­tism, loy­alty and love for his Com­man­der in Chief, coun­try and hu­man­ity and there­fore no amount of plot­ting or pro­pa­ganda can de­feat these ideals. The de­feat of Boko Haram would be mild com­pared to the dis­grace these tra­duc­ers will ex­pe­ri­ence when Bu­ratai even­tu­ally con­quers them and their min­ions.

Okanga wrote from Agila, Ado lo­cal gov­ern­ment area of Benue State

But Bu­ratai is driven by pa­tri­o­tism, loy­alty and love for his Com­man­der in Chief, coun­try and hu­man­ity and there­fore no amount of plot­ting or pro­pa­ganda can de­feat these ideals. The de­feat of Boko Haram would be mild com­pared to the dis­grace these tra­duc­ers will ex­pe­ri­ence when Bu­ratai even­tu­ally con­quers them and their min­ions

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