Dressing can only befit a person if the tailor is professional. The accuracy of the measurement helps in bringing out the body curves and ultimately brings out the personality. The khaki material, which is fondly used for uniforms among security agencies, helps to exhibit the innate features that attract attention to the person in uniform.
One man whose childhood dream was to adorn the khaki uniform and lace his boots like other youths of his generation, with the patriotic mind to serve their fatherland, is the celebrated four-star army officer, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai.
There are more inner values that help to boost and further project the act of professionalism. It is the love of the khaki uniform, which envelopes the true art of a military officer, that over the years had attracted many able young Nigerians to seek a career in the military. Unfortunately, the country these young men and women served hardly showed appreciation and encomiums on them as it is in other lands where the ordinary recruit is appreciated for deciding to lay down, or “sacrifice,” his life to protect his countrymen and women.
Painfully, hundreds upon hundreds of these gallant khaki men and women have died in the course of duty.
This writer once asked Buratai to disclose the number of Nigerian soldiers that have paid the supreme price in war and he replied: “All I can tell you is that the figure was very high before l took over, but, thank God, we were able to drastically reduce the casualty figure.”
Here is a man whose strategic effort and military ingenuity identified another great officer of like mind in the person of Major General Lucky Irabor, whom he appointed to oversee Operation Lafia Dole, which ultimately cut the wings of the insurgents and recapture the notorious Sambisa forest that is the original (Camp Zero) headquarters of Boko Haram.
With that great feat, which was equal to the U.S. Army recapture of Kuwait after the small Middle East oil-rich country was invaded in August 1990 by the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, such a war victory ought not to only attract prideful applause but for Nigerians, like people under siege, forgetfulness seems to overcloud memory. While still in khaki uniform, Buratai exhibited classic superlative performance that is common only with rear four-star war generals. When he was appointed as the 20th Chief of Army Staff (COAS) on Monday, July 13, 2015, those who knew him and had worked with him knew that he was an officer of high professional repute and moral standing, embroiled in patriotic zeal and renowned for his sterner qualities.
The military lexicon aptly described the qualities of a military general thus: “Good common sense, professionally educated, physically strong, cheerful and optimistic, energetic, extreme loyalty and determined.”
Many believe that, apart from these exhibited qualities of Buratai in the course of his professional journey and ascendancy, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari, who himself is a retired four-star general, knows and understands that, to wear the khaki and rise to be a four-star general,it is no mean feat. Only the initiated can understand.
The first time our ways crossed was in his high office where we exchanged ideas and each took away fond remarks. My first impression of him was his down-to-earth simplicity and frankness. Like the day Jesus met Nathaniel and said, “(John 1:47) Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”
Again, our next closest meeting was in Sambisa, where I had the rare privilege for an exclusive interview about his sourjourn in the military. Again, despite all the military paraphenelia around him, he exuded an exemplary and infectious humility.
Having interacted with past COAS as a security journalist, Buratai stands out as a good book to read as a four-star general, full of the milk of human kindness that cuts across ethnic and religious boundaries. Many of such stories are in public space.
From all verifiable war assessment, Buratai and his fellow war generals have secured the external fringes of Nigeria and, as Femi Adesina, the President’s spokesman, said: “Buratai can be described as a war general who gave Boko Haram a bloody nose.”
Truly, in 2012 and 2014 residents of Abuja, the federal capital, could not sleep. Bombs were exploding at almost every corner because Boko Haram carried the war from the fringes of the country’s border right inside the country. The constitution rightly mandated the military to protect the country from any external aggression. The military has done marvelously well and should be applauded simply because Boko Haram have not been harassing Nigerians as before.
However, today, the internal insecurity lies squarely on the doorstep of the Nigeria Police, which is as much equipped in personnel and training. Mobile Police that are sufficiently trained and equipped to fight any insecurity, be it banditry, robbery, kidnapping or communal clashes or demonstrations. Buratai’s military exposure has turned a blessing to Nigeria as a country and helped in full transformation of the military by infusing digital networking and erasing the age-long paper filing despite political banana peels and public blackmail against him.
Perusing his military career that is not dented, one sees the military as a security institution that has not allowed public nor political interference to tamper with its tradition of excellence and discipline. After 35 years wearing the khaki starched uniform and having risen to such height in his career, according to him: “l never envisaged getting to this height in my career; believe it’s simply hard work, discipline and grace of Allah.”
No wonder the President could not suppress his admiration and happiness when he included his name with other service chiefs as ambassadors, to continue serving the country. This time not in khaki uniform with epaulets on his shoulders, but in well trimmed ambassadorial suits. Like many of his U.S. colleagues who are ambassadors, it’s their experience that matters, but suits fit them.
Sheikh Gumi in bandits’ den (1)
The 1914 book titled “Alibaba and the Fourty Thieves,” illustrated by Mr. Milo Winter, is an epic fictional story that fits perfectly with the recent controversial visit of Sheikh Gumi to the twin evil forest Sububu and Pakai in Zamfara State. What a courageous and visionary Sheikh. Even though many are castigating his heroic visit, those who are above 60 years would understand the real import of his visit. On the one hand, die-hard critics would ask, “Who sent him?” and other would be quick to also ask the question, “How did he get their contact and location?”
(To be continued)