They were four in number, same height, a little below six feet tall, energetic and brave. One common feature was their military uniform, while the instrument of identification was their personal weapon, which they slung across their shoulders the way a mother monkey would affectionately cling to her baby.
They were from the Nigerian Army and Air Force and in their late 20s. They were celebrating their recent defeat of a dangerous group of terrorists known as Boko Haram, a victory that coincided with the Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
It was the lyrics of their celebration song on the social media that I listened to and found very inspiring.
These guys must be poets. They captured every essence of over a decade’s war that has traumatized Nigeria and what they have determined to achieve on behalf of every Nigerian. They sang from their heart and danced with their strength. Their military boots must have combed many bushes and entered numerous trenches. They may have escaped planted explosives by the whiskers, with praises in their mouths to their God. Such experiences are common with rugged soldiers. Young men who have dedicated their lives as sacrifice for their fellow citizens and country.
Hear them sing the melodious song: “My name is Soldier. I come from Nigeria. I lay my life on line for the innocent ones to live.”
Even as they danced, none played with his rifle the way other security agents would exhibit uncontrollable joyous frenzy. Even in their youthful age, they are aware that they are shouldering a gagantuous problem on behalf of the country. Part of the lyrics says, “My name is Soldier, I come from Nigeria, I lay for my life for the innocent ones to live, Just for the progress of my father land.”
Despite being Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo and from the Middle Belt area of the country, they refused to be identified as such. They simply want to be identified not by their name but by the profession that had bound them together as one body. They refused to be divided by either ethnic nor religious traits but were bonded by their uniform. They see themselves as “Nigerian Soldier.”
The love that oozed out of their camaraderie is enough bond and can dissolve disunity, ethnicity and other divisive spirits that had over the years created most of the internal problems confronting the country.
As I watched the 10-minute video, many things passed through my mind. These are young boys who understand what patriotic life is all about. They were not perturbed nor moved about the negative narratives in the air. Back to the city centre, where many Nigerians hardly confer due respect to our military, instead all they ascribe to them is a disdain look, and casting aspersions on them. Forgetting all that they had achieved for the country and helping to secure its stability.
These youthful, detribalised soldiers exuded the true Nigerian humanness. They exuded the true spirit of a Nigerian. Watching them sing and tapping an empty bottle to complement their song, one was elated and moved to join in tapping his feet in sync with them: “We are the rugged soldiers.”
According to George Smith Patton Jr. who was a general of the United States Army and commanded the Seventh United States Army in the Mediterranean theatre of World War II, and the United States Army Central in France and Germany after the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944. He described a soldier thus, “The soldier is the Army. No army is better than its soldiers. The soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country.”
Since 2002, the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Air Force and the police have carried arms to stop an insurgency that has metamorphosed into an international terrorist war with the full involvement of ISIS, which is an international terrorist network around the world.
These young Nigerian soldiers, like their colleagues, may have shunned other professions only to prefer the army like their Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, and their Chief of Army Staff, Lietenant General Tukur Buratai, who disclosed in an interview with this writer that he had always dreamed of being a soldier. These indefatigable soldiers see a different Nigeria, even when many detractors see a disintegrated Nigeria. These great soldiers know why they are under inclement weather, fighting an unrepentant vicious terrorist group. The glow that emits from their eyes clearly indicates that they are very hopeful of victory eventually.
Part of their lyrics says, “We are good to go combatant soldiers. We are the Nigerian Army. Today is our celebration. Today is our celebration. Victory is from God alone.”
Allen Bernard West, American Rebuplican politician and retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who represented Florida’s 22nd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013 and served as chairman of the Republican Party of Texas since 2020. He said, “We must never forget why we have and why we need our military. Our armed forces exist solely to ensure our nation is safe, so that each and every one of us can sleep soundly at night, knowing we have ‘guardians at the gate.’”
Yes, Lt. Col. Allen West correctly understands the feeling of these young, vibrant and indefatigable Nigerian soldiers.
The world over, soldiers are not only respected but are revered for their unique discipline, ruggedness and forthright nature. No wonder they are always seen as game changers. Nigerians should change their attitude towards the “good” soldiers. They are the ones Nigerians are expecting to end the terrorism war because it is a national responsibility and a task on their shoulders. Just as Sir John Desmond Patrick Keegan, English military historian and writer, noted in one of his published works on psychology of battle: “Soldiers, when committed to a task, can’t compromise. It’s unrelenting devotion to the standards of duty and courage, absolute loyalty to others, not letting the task go until it’s been done.”
IGP M. Adamu: Any legacy? (1)
Life is a courageous teacher and at the right time, it sets the record straight and right. From all indications, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, who joined the Nigeria Police in 1986, would be exiting as the 20th officer to be so appointed. According to official police record, his exit date is January 31, 2021, after serving 35 years as a police officer.
(To be continued)