When I received not just the news but the evidence as well that some retired generals, all of whom have held very senior command positions in the Nigerian military, are now up in arms against one of their own, former Army Chief, General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, for cheap political reasons, I wondered whether  those characters have forgotten that the espirit de corps they were taught as cadets in the Nigerian Defence Academy does not stop even in retirement. It remains an integral part of military training and is aimed at encouraging and getting the best from one another.

Shocked by the childish activities of this shadowy group, the Kano Renaissance Group, a group I am privileged to lead, issued a strong statement yesterday warning these divisive characters to stop all the desperate shenanigans or get exposed and humiliated in the public space. The press statement reads as follows:

“The attention of Kano Renaissance Group has been drawn to series of nocturnal meetings being held by some retired military personnel, with the sole purpose of working out mechanisms to malign the person of former ambassador and Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai (Retd), and ensure he is reduced in esteem in the eyes of President Bola Tinubu and other well-meaning Nigerians.

“The bigger objective of these characters is to ensure the well decorated general, who served Nigeria and particularly the Nigerian Army with distinction, does not get an appointment as minister, or indeed as anything, in the new administration of President Tinubu, even though he gave his heart and all towards the success of the APC in the presidential election.

“Typical of empty barrels, those former military colleagues, almost all of who are now idle politicians, cannot think of cogent ways to help the Tinubu administration, but sheer jealousy and mischief.

“The Kano Renaissance Group warns those individuals to steer clear of their trademark mischief and allow President Tinubu to face the arduous task of governance without any distractions.

“The desperate attempts to confuse the President and make him abandon those who truly and wholeheartedly worked towards his electoral victory are dead on arrival, because Tinubu is known as a person who appreciates and rewards loyalty, and will never yield to the nefarious antics of those who see nothing good in true patriots like Buratai, who is on record as the most successful and hardworking army chief in Nigeria’s contemporary history.

“We are closely watching all the night meetings and other dastardly moves by various groups that are opposed to Buratai, whose real intention is to entangle President Tinubu. For them, since they are not qualified for any appointment, those who are eminently qualified should only get it if they can agree to grease their dirty palms at all times.

“We want to assure these shady characters that that era is long gone. President Tinubu is focused and he knows those who will help him succeed in the arduous task of governing this complex nation, without being misled by self-serving characters.”

The group, in conclusion, appreciates the media for refusing to allow itself to be used by what it describes as “anti-people elements,” emphasizing that “the era in which sections of the media would allow themselves to be used by unscrupulous politicians is also gone. The Nigerian media played a leading role in institutionalizing democracy, and will remain as watchdogs in ensuring the highest standards in all facets of our national life.”

Related News

But what comes as even more shocking is the fact that none of the generals engaged in these dangerous efforts is an outstanding achiever, in the real sense of the word. They may have held very big offices in the past, with one of them serving as a one-term minister in the immediate past administration of President Buhari. But even he achieved practically nothing spectacular. Are they desperately doing all these so that General Buratai will not join the Tinubu administration and inadvertently shame them with another round of patriotic, spectacular achievements?

For those who may not know, or have forgotten, below is a reminder of the unprecedented strides recorded by General Buratai when he served as Chief of Army Staff, assuming office at a difficult time in the history of Nigeria when Boko Haram was almost overrunning the entire northeastern part of the country.

By 2015 when Muhammadu Buhari became President of the Nigerian federation and appointed General Tukur Yusufu Buratai as Army Chief, Boko Haram was governing a sizeable chunk of Nigerian territorial space, exactly the size of Belgium. But by December 2015, the new army chief had led from the front and ensured the initiative was seized from the Boko Haram insurgents. Barely five months into that appointment, attacks on soft and hard targets had reduced by 75 per cent,  By June 2016, there was no attacks outside the North-East, unlike before when attacks were regular occurrences in Jos, Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Suleja, Abuja, among others.

By July 2017, the incessant suicide bomb attacks had reduced by 90 per cent. The years 2017 and 2018 saw the virtual defeat  of the terrorists. What brought about the intermittent setbacks were mainly inter-service competition (not conflict), lack of establishment of civil authorities in the recovered local government areas, low deployment of the Nigerian police in the North-East, uncoordinated government efforts and of course the resilience of the terrorists in regrouping,  recruitment and re-arming. The evolution of new tactics, techniques and procedures in the counterinsurgency operations are major achievements.  The Super Camp Maneuver Concept of operation, the Mobule Strike Teams, the production of the Ezugwu MRAP, the Motorcycle Battalion, the revival and operationalisation of the Special Forces Command, etc, are all initiatives borne out of the challenges of the counterinsurgency operations of that era.

In spite of these landmark achievements, if you ask General Buratai what were his major achievements as army chief, chances are he will mention extensive training of army personnel and human capacity building, which are the defining factors in true military  professionalism. Courses were regularly conducted. Officers and soldiers were exposed in large numbers to foreign courses. The Nigerian Army will never be the same in terms of the quality of its officers and soldiers. They can compete and excel in all international military engagements. The Nigerian Army Resource Centre is one institution that transformed the army landscape in terms of human capacity building. It has since become a major source of pride for the army and the country as a whole.

Then came the Nigerian Army University located in Biu, as one of the foremost legacies of Buratai and indeed the Buhari Administration.

The five years stewardship of General Buratai as Army Chief saw to many exercises being established.  Exercise is the best form of military professional training.  The introduction of  realistic training exercises were among the visionary legacies of General Buratai  The exercises conducted during that time included HARBIN KUNAMA, CRICODILE SMILE, AYAM AKPATUMA, PYTHON DANCE-and SAHEL SANITY, all of which were both visionary and strategic. With the conduct of the exercises two major objectives were achieved. One was training of the Nigerian Army officers and soldiers in Tactics, Techniques and Procedures in internal security operations.  Secondly, it also contributed to national security improvement where security challenges across the geopolitical zones of the country were addressed decisively.  During the tenure  of General Tukur Buratai,  the IPOB and MEND amongst others were checkmated.  This is in addition to several counter-insurgency operations.  Bandits, kidnappers and violent separatists were also decisively dealt with and operating at best in the fringes.

Other achievements recorded during that period included medical evacuation abroad, upgrade of all Army Level 4 hospitals, general improvement of educational standard, increase in troops morale (though a few cases were politicized by unscrupulous politicians), massive barracks renovations, massive infrastructural development, massive lift capabilities, improved procurement for the Army, as well as standardisation of Army uniforms.

New institutions were also established, including the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command, Women Corps, Land Forces Simulation Centre, ST Foods, Nigerian Army Farms and Ranches and others that are too numerous to mention here.

Though toughness has become his defining feature right from childhood, General Buratai managed to balance it with diplomacy even when he was in active service. Under his stewardship, the Human Rights Desk was established, and incidences of military brutality were reduced to barest minimum. Many civilians attested to the fact that they always forgot the man was the Army Chief when in his presence. He exuded simplicity and humility at their very best.

These are just a mere tip of the iceberg. A space like this could take a fraction of the unprecedented achievements recorded in that golden era in the history of the Nigerian Army. Was Buratai a saint who did no wrong? Far from it, just as none of the persons point dirty fingers at him is a saint, or even half as one.  Indeed, all of them have bequeathed a record  of failure in all its ramifications while in service. Clearly they do not mean well towards President Tinubu, and the government will do well to beam its searchlight on their nefarious activities and be sure they also do not engage in subversive actions of any sort.

This columns hopes they see the futility of what they are doing, so as not to deprive this nation of the services of one of its very best.