By David Onmeje
All hail the reformed and disciplined Nigerian Army. Even those who maliciously hated you in the past have keenly observed both your private and official actions in the last three years and Nigerians fete you with accolades as venerated institution. The phrase drops on every lip and everywhere in shocking pleasantness.
The Army has proved skeptics wrong; it has triumphed over masked enemies who plotted and set booby traps on their official paths to cascade the failure of soldiers to erupt in indiscernible joy. Unfortunately, these esteemed soldiers have not fumbled in all national engagements as anticipated by the anti-progressive forces. Instead, they are soaring higher with each given opportunity.
The Army’s deployment to assist civil security secure the country to conduct peaceful, free, fair and credible presidential and national assembly elections in Nigeria has also been performed with exceptional splendor, in spite of the initial upbraids. Army personnel exuded unquestionable patriotism and loyalty to their country, by keeping faith with their creed of service.
Soldiers dispensed this assignment in a manner which has further conferred palms on it as an institution or intensified the respect earned from Nigerians previously. Today, Nigerians and indeed, the international community are regaled that the country has successfully gone through the first round of the 2019 general elections without any major setback. The Army played a significant role in preventing the elections from degenerating into free and unbridled violence.
Much thanks to the COAS and leader of counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai. He is a leader, who does not just bark to his personnel. Each time he shouts, there is an urgent national problem, worth solving with the active backing of the Army. He sleeps and eats patriotism for his country and constantly evolves way to restructure the Army in accordance with global best practices. When he steps out with his foot soldiers on any special assignment, brooding enemies of Nigeria take cover and allow peace to reign.
The Army Chief cherishes peace infinitely, but does not brook the effrontery of armed gangs who are out to violently destroy and ruin the security and peace of Nigeria. The peace and unity of Nigeria is always uppermost on his mind at all times.
So, consistently, Gen. Buratai pictures national interest at heart. And when he scowls, it is not intended to harm the innocent, but to squeeze the juice out of hardened armed gangs and militias tormenting the peace loving and law abiding Nigerians. That’s why, he has adopted the “carrot and stick,” approach in his engagement of the Nigerian people. Armed criminal gangs only incur his wrath when they ignore the carrot of peace dangled at them. It is what defines his official posturing in all assignments.
Gen. Buratai again spoke to Nigerians endearingly in the aftermath of the presidential and national assembly elections. This was a ballot which stirred some uproars from the opposition over the drafting of soldiers for assistance. The e Army Chief for the umpteenth time, tasked the conscience of Nigerians on a dispassionate appraisal and an unbiased perception of military participation in the electoral process.
Rather than see it as an aberration, Gen. Buarati persuaded Nigerians to view the Army as apolitical and or neutral and their deployment for election duties was only part of a core constitutional responsibility of securing the nation. It becomes expedient where civil security fails or is likely to fail.
Gen. Buratai yelled in his post-election assessment, “ When a General Speaks on national issues, he speaks strategy, not politics. It is a way and a means to an end. Therefore, the end result will be national defence and security. It is also to foster national unity, peace, development and protection of human rights.”
And truly, Nigerians can verify that after the general elections, the end result is the sustenance of national security and defence. And this is the spirit that guided the operations of the Army throughout the duration of the general elections. They were after national security and defence alone; they never brooked those who attempted to compromise it.
Soldiers were not part of the gangs intent of conniving with politicians to compromise elections or truncate democracy. Since Gen. Buratai assumed leadership of the Army, he has persistently preached to Army personnel about absolute subordination and obedience to civil authority, respect for the dignity and human rights of Nigerians. These tenets have always been observed religiously by Army personnel under his watch.
And the Army Chief spares no disciplinary action on any soldier, who engages in unprofessional or unethical conduct, while on special assignments’, no matter how highly placed or “connected,” in the military. Many have been penalized by Gen. Buratai for such professional misconduct.
It explains why, even after the general elections, the most loquacious or acerbic of critics have never raised eyebrows or accused soldiers of indulgence in compromising the electoral process. Those initially opposed to the deployment of soldiers to ensure national security and peace for the electorates to cast their votes are dead quiet after the ballot. There is no modicum of misdemeanor which can be traced or labeled on the Army. Rather soldiers arrested many electoral fraudsters and handed them over to prosecuting authorities.
The excellence performance of the Army is not in anyway, an indication that they never faced such temptations’ or were never induced into such dishonorable acts on the field. But they resisted the antics of politicians to smear their reputation. Such cases were replete in scores of places all over Nigeria.
One of such instance is the prominent case between the Rivers State Gov, Nyesom Wike’s alleged attempt to financially induce soldiers on the February 23, 2019 election duty as publicly attested in a press briefing by the Deputy director, Army Public Relations, Col. Aminu Iliyasu of the 6 Division Nigerian Army.
But the soldiers refused to bow to Gov. Wike’s satanic actions to lure the Army officers into compromising the electoral process. They rejected his cash and performed their duties, in consonance with their conscience, loyalty and patriotism to the nation.
It is an exemplary conduct by the Army officers, who have made Nigeria proud. In field operations, the soldiers have demonstrated or replicated the orientations and disposition of the leadership of the Nigerian Army under Gen. Buratai. He is a no nonsense, strict and disciplined officer.
It is an indication that the present breed of Army personnel have harkened to Gen. Buratai’s teachings on patriotism, selflessness and discipline in all their national assignments’. With a Nigerian Army which has redefined itself on the path of discipline, truth, honesty and selflessness, Nigeria is surely on the route to recovery and national progress on all fronts.
Onmeje wrote this article from the United Kingdom.