“Of all the wonders that I have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.” – William Shakespeare (Julius Caesar)
His name was Colonel Dahiru Chiroma Bako, the Commander, 25 Task Force Brigade (Operation Lafiya Dole ). He was one of the most dependable military commanders at the war front in the North East battling the dreaded terrorist group known as Boko Haram. Most of the war victories recorded against the terrorist group were ascribed to the gallant strategies planned out by Colonel Bako with additional assistance from the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai. On the day his death was announced, many did not believe it, but, according to Julius Caesar, in the Shakespearean play, “death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”
Painfully, death came to Colonel Bako. The news of his death shocked and sent cold shivers down the spine of troops of 25 Task Force Brigade, including the COAS, his colleagues and friends.
His death created a pulse in the military community in the country. He was fondly described as the indefatigable officer. The love he extended to his juniors was the same that he extended to his colleagues and superiors. No wonder he was known as one of the commanders who loved to lead his troops to battle. He had been crowned with many heroic outings, with his task force killing many Boko Haram terrorists.
The COAS was said to trust his war strategies and had often commended his gallantry. A retired military officer, Brigadier General S.K. Usman, described him thus: “He was a gentleman and a professional military officer in all ramifications and was rightly nicknamed and referred to as Sarkin Yaki by colleagues and all those that worked with him .”
On Sunday, September 20, 2020, at about 10am, when he was injured, Colonel Bako was returning with his gallant troops from Sabon Gari-Wajiroko axis, near Damboa, where his patrol team routed a dangerous group of the ISIS-led Boko Haram before they could assemble to carry out a planned attack. It was an operation he personally led, only to bump into a coordinated ambush as he was returning with his troop carrier. He and other injured soldiers were evacuated from the scene of ambush and successfully resuscitated and operated upon by a team of doctors from within the military and were already in stable condition and even performed his early morning prayers. However, despite all the efforts of the military, Colonel Bako gave up the ghost. Since the war against the terrorists, the military, indeed Nigeria, has lost many gallant officers like Colonel Bako. These young officers could have been in other professions of life but, for the love of their country, they chose to lay their lives to protect their fatherland. Thousands of them have died when they could have been living. Many of them are amputated when they should be enjoying their God-given hands and legs. Their children have been circumstantially turned into orphans while their young wives abruptly turned into widows. The death of Colonel Bako would be at the centre of every war discussion for a very long time, because the death of a good man resonates whenever his name is mentioned. Colonel Bako touched many lives like Dorcas in the Holy Book, Acts 9:39-38-37-36, “Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
“And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.
“And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.
“Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.”
Here was a fantastic officer who aspired to be like his boss, the COAS. Colonel Bako had human feelings, no wonder he was a breadwinner and provider to many families. Many young boys were on his long list enjoying his scholarship grant. Tears rolled down the cheeks of every soldier on the day it was announced that he had passed on. It is believed that soldiers don’t cry, but they wept like babies for Col. Bako. Both senior and junior officers. True, like others, he signed up for the job, but how caring and concerned is the country they sacrificed their lives for? Patriotic zeal for one’s country that eventually claims a life in the process of saving citizens needs to be well compensated.
On the day he was buried, despite the fact that the soldiers were in procession for his burial, many of them could not suppress their tears. Even when Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State was to speak at the burial, grief overwhelmed him as he promised his widow a befitting house plus the sum of N20 million; promising to further augment the scholarship welfare package extended to the family by the military. The governor described him as a dogged fighter.
There was good representation of both the military and some politicians. This ought not to be, if indeed we cherish and have regard for our military heroes. It is on record that the COAS honoured the deceased soldiers of junior rank from Eastern states. One, therefore, hopes to witness the day when the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces would attend the burial of a gallant officer like the late Colonel; after all, we have witnessed a superpower President who shut down his cabinet just to honour slain police officers who died during confrontations with armed robbers in France.
Nigeria: 60 years of insecurity (2)
On October 1, 1960, as a pupil of Saint David’s Primary School, we marched to the popular Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, which used to serve as horse racing field. That particular day, a national holiday, schools in Lagos, being the Federal Capital then, wore a fantastic colour. All the streets were painted in the national colours. The ecstactic feeling of the independence celebration was in the air. Nigerians were in joyous mood, schoolchildren left the parade ground with gifts and packaged food. Radio Nigeria, being the only station, was for the elite and those who could access it, as the installed radio box could only tune to Radio Nigeria through pole wire. The only crimes than was petty stealing and political violence. The country was relatively peaceful. Insecurity reared its ugly head after the Nigerian civil war, when firearms used during the war were not accounted for. Some of the security agents (police and army) who actively participated in the civil war usually buried their guns and did not account for them. From there, highway robbery ensued, and other associated criminalities became rampant across the country.
As enunciated in the first part of this write-up, criminalities like kidnapping, robbery and, lately, banditry have gained currency. The question is, can the police cope or are they overwhelmed?