He is unassuming, unlike soldier. Nothing in his countenance betrays the brashness and ferocity of Army Generals. Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and leader of the counter-insurgency operations, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai belongs to what is called the “strong breed.” Each time he appears on TV screens during interviews which he grants frequently to elucidate on Army operations on the nation-wide counter-insurgency operations, his infectious aura will invoke passions of love on him by anyone. He is soft-speaking, usually calm and calculative, blended with his gift oratory.
Nature has gifted Gen. Buratai so generously. He has excelled as a soldier and has the unbeatable reputation of a military master strategist and tactician. He is an exceptional soldier in the trenches much like in military diplomacy. A historian and philosopher by academic training, Gen. Buratai is a star boy of military history and deploys his intellectual arsenals to find solutions to the manifold contemporary security challenges. A poet by hobby, Gen. Buratai’s verses are extraordinarily pungent and a gripping commentary on societal problems. Assimilating his poems, only reminds of the lord of romantic poetry, the English-born William Wordsworth. One is often tempted to think, Gen. Buratai would have better excelled as an academic don. But in all fields, he has come full measure.
In administration and leadership, he exudes uncommon excellence. Gen. Buratai has a knack for innovations and reforms. A workaholic to the core, Gen. Buratai marshals out his plans, set his priorities with time frames and pursues them relentlessly and tirelessly until his targets are met.
Therefore, he had little difficulty in transforming the disorganized and disoriented Army he inherited into a professional, responsible, responsive and disciplined force. Gen. Buratai gave the Nigerian Army a new face and portrait of excellence within months of his assumption of duty as the COAS.
As evidence of his innovative ingenuity, Gen. Buratai established two new Army Divisions within three years of his leadership. There is the 8th Army Division in Monguno, Borno state and the 6th Army Division, Port Harcourt, Rivers state. As a leader interested in legacies, he has erected modern residential and office structures for in the new Army Divisions very fast. He knows how to pull the right strings to get what he wants for the Army. Also, remarkably endearing, Gen. Buratai has established a dozen Army Brigades, Battalions’ and Forward Bases in different parts of the country, especially in places with recurring issues of insecurity. And he is still expanding in this direction as Delta state has just been given an Army brigade and Battalion. The idea is to facilitate quick response of soldiers to emergencies in order to smoothen operations against armed criminals for the protection of Nigerians.
At a glance today, one sees Nigerian soldiers actively involved overwhelmingly in counter-insurgency operations. Soldiers are quelling bile and violent insurrection movements; extinguishing the fires of destructive militancy, quenching the madness of armed bandits and dousing the conflagrations between farmers and herders in different parts of the country. The reality that soldiers are deployed to at least 33 out of 36 states of the federation for these reasons is quite a bogus operational spread to manage and supervise effectively. But the indefatigable Gen. Buratai has no problems playing his supervisory roles. He is found everywhere soldiers under him have been deployed for special assignments. Like a nomad, Gen. Buratai is a soldier who sits nowhere, but constantly in motion, grass-hopping from one state to another to oversee the work of soldiers at various stations and barracks. Gen. Buratai dreads failure and avoids it like a plaque. When he kick-starts a capital project for the Nigerian Army, he ensures it is completed as scheduled. He hates excuses adduced after failure with a passion.
It is this spirit that has given Nigeria, the first specialized conventional Nigerian Army University, Biu (NAUB). The idea of NAUB started like a mustard seed, but it grew, as Gen. Buratai persistently watered it. And within two years, the university became a reality, dotted with gigantic and aesthetically edifices. Students are already observing their second academic session. A visionary and focused leader, Gen. Buratai is also aggressively pursuing the idea of an aviation unit for the Nigerian Army to make air combats easier for soldiers in the trenches in the ongoing counter-insurgency operations. An aviation wing for the Nigerian Army has been on the cards of previous leaders of the Nigerian Army; but it has dragged for decades without positive results. But Gen. Buratai in his characteristic manner is pushing it with an extreme force and tonic. Foresighted as ever, the COAS first established the Nigerian Army Aviation School, where Army pilots and technical crew members are trained. The school has produced multiple sets of graduates. And he has sent some soldiers abroad for specialized training in aviation.
The Army Chief, a trailblazer at every turn is again set to make history as the COAS who brought to fruition the Army Aviation wing. So, the admirers of Gen. Buratai often times tease him with epaulettes such as “the itinerant Army boss,” or “the mobile General.” And his actions reflect such affectionate wisecrack on his personage. It is hard to pin Gen. Buratai down to a spot. He is not transfixed in any location. On Tuesday this week, Gen. Buratai was in Asaba commissioning the headquarters of the 63 Brigade Complex and the official operationalization of the brigade in the state capital. And within another 24hrs, he was in Maiduguri with the troops monitoring the clearance operations of troops of Operation Lafiya Dole. Nigerians can bear testimony to Nigerian troops decisive crushing of insurgents at Damboa and the destruction of their 19 vehicles. And Gen. Buratai is due for Kaduna to inaugurate new projects and the circle continues. So, who is really Gen.TY Buratai? He is undeniably the restless soldier who wants his troops to win the war on insurgency. He is the Army boss who is out to bury all threats of insecurity in Nigeria. He is that General who hates to sit in one place and merely bark directives.
Gen. TY Buratai is an amiable soldier by birth from the obscure little town of Biu and an achiever by dint of hard work. He is a soldier by training; a soldier by profession; a soldier by calling and a soldier by action. That is the hidden portrait of Gen. TY Buratai, the nightmare and tormentor-in-chief of terrorists; the action-filled and result-oriented Nigeria’s COAS and ombudsman of counter-terrorism operations.
Attah is a public affairs analyst and wrote this piece from Garki, Abuja.