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General Buratai and his Golden Principle on War – By Thomas Uzah PhD 

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Sometime in June 2015, barely 10 days after the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s democratically elected leader, a BBC Africa Security Correspondent, published an analysis, captioned; “Will moving Army to Maiduguri help Nigeria against Boko Haram?” The report captured President Buhari’s earliest decisions and actions in office to stymie the raging and devastating Boko Haram insurgency in the country.

Though the analysis encapsulated different conditions of the subsisting insecurities in Nigeria, a phrase was catchy. He wrote about the Service Chiefs perception and response to the Presidential order to relocate the Military Command and Control Centre from Abuja to the Northeast, the hotbed of the insurgency. President Buhari issued the order to centralize operations nearer the heart of the insurgency, ease bureaucratic bottlenecks and speedy decision-making on the field combats.

But some Military Chiefs loathed this directive. They preferred the comfort of cosy offices in Abuja, then shadow anywhere near the theatre of war. Therefore, they were hesitant, silently grumbled and clandestinely remonstrate. Eventually, though, they bowed to the supremacy of Military creeds, as the BBC report later exposed.  

The catchy phrase in the report chanted defiantly on the relocation of Military Command and Control Centre to the Northeast epicentre of Boko Haram terrorism stated; “However,  the new strategy has not gone down well with some top military men, who view it as a symbolic, populist move by President Buhari, attempting to set himself apart from the previous administration under Goodluck Jonathan.”

Time explains seemingly complex mysteries. The phrase made it abundantly clear the phobia of some senior military officers under the previous administration in leading troops to dismantle the dreaded Sambisa Forest, Boko Haram’s most secured fortress. It was a forest where insurgents hid and persistently emerged to bloodily strike the heart of Borno State and other parts of the Northeast.

Formerly, Sambisa was Boko Haram’s centre for training recruits. It served as a venue for plotting their heinous atrocities and recuperation ground after strikes of violence on communities and villages. Boko Haram’s factional leader, Abubakar Shekau and top commanders of the sect had their most vaulted “mansion,” in the forest’s “Camp Zairo.” Some refer to it as Camp Zero from where they easily coordinated their atrocious acts. The natives called Camp Zairo “Sabil Hida”, meaning the “righteous place,” but insurgents renamed it after they annexed it.

However, the face of the counter-insurgency operations changed with the arrival of Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and ombudsman of the anti-insurgency operations. He started commanding the battle from the front and not the back seat, very fruitfully and rewardingly. The crack Infantry Combatant never faltered nor dreaded the trenches or waterfront any day. Even the ambush and attack on his convoy by Boko Haram terrorists didn’t scare or dissuade him.

Gen. Buratai studied the minutiae of the insurgency and discovered a huge concentration of terrorists in Sambisa. He vowed they must not be allowed to possess the forest and then planned several months to capture it. 

And when Gen. Buratai and other Commanders led troops to strike in December 2016, Shekau, his top commanders and foot soldiers sheltered in this enclave were massively dislodged. Some insurgents met their waterloo in the encounter with troops; while a few others escaped, including the factional terror leader.

But from the historic capture of the Sambisa Forest on December 22, 2016, Gen. Buratai brought back to Abuja relics of the demystification, penetration of Camp Zairo and subjugation of Shekau’s empire. The Shekau’s personal effects obtained by the Army were a copy of the Holy Quran and Boko Haram jihadi flag among others.

However, the battle to free Sambisa Forest and entrapped communities in the area had just started. It was clear Boko Haram insurgents were pained to lose their fortified fortress of shelter. Being a vast forest, the insurgents again regrouped and reoccupied other parts. In his customary fashion, Shekau sneaked and reoccupied Camp Zairo from where he organized his foot soldiers to launch pockets of attacks on obscure communities.

Regardless, Gen. Buratai never flinched. Throughout 2017, the leader of counter-insurgency operations turned the Northeast into his permanent home and intensified clearance operations in enclaves within Sambisa Forest to flush out remnants of insurgents.        

Gen. Buratai eventually pulled down the final walls of the forest; cleared all the areas re-possessed by insurgents, confiscated their weapons, again dislodged Abubakar Shekau from Camp Zairo and recaptured it by end of 2017. The second military raids on Sambisa were more deadly on terrorists. 

In a video later released, the factional Boko Haram leader confessed to suffering heavy casualties and expressed frustration with the war, preferring to die than live. Still hotly trailed by troops, Shekau disguised into a woman, dressed in hijab and sneaked out of the Northeast. He remained in the cooler and silent for months.

At the start of January 2018, Gen. Buratai sojourned back to Sambisa on an operational thank-you visit to troops and to convey the President’s appreciation to soldiers stationed in different locations of the forest who performed the feat.

The helicopter conveying the COAS from Maiduguri first landed in Bitta village, a small settlement in Sambisa. Thereafter, he proceeded to Tokumbere and then, drove in an MRAP vehicle with his team to  Camp Zairo. He arrived at the spot by 4:15 pm. There, Gen. Buratai was conducted round the Battle Groups 1 and 2 locations and addressed troops. He also inspected the armoured fighting vehicles and equipment captured from Boko Haram terrorists.

It was right inside the darkest belly of Camp Zairo that Gen. Buratai issued the order to troops on the capture of the escapee factional leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau “red-handed.”  “We must move across wherever this criminal is to catch him red-handed. I want you to get him by hand,” he said. 

The display of courage by Gen. Buratai was confounding. Those naturally passionate about the Army fear or dread nothing. They are not scared by the possibility of death or quake at the prospects of danger. The COAS embodies these virtues in abundance. He is more excited in the trenches than swirling on a chair in an air-conditioned office.

This can be gleaned from an axiom in the interview he granted reporters while in Camp Zairo;   “I see all operations in the field as adventurously, a thunderous conquest of the enemy. I always want to explore new tactics, new manoeuvres and approaches to achieving tactical and operational objectives. Fighting wars should be seen as fun with serious, bold, decisive and aggressive approaches to dealing with the adversaries in an unconventional military environment. It is what excites me deeply.”

No wonder, Gen. Buratai is infinitely irritated when a soldier becomes hysteric at the sight of the battle. Not long ago, at the workshop on Transformational Leaders in Abuja,  the COAS voiced a directive to all commanders to flush out lazy soldiers as  “The NA will do all that is necessary to fish out any bad eggs whose willingness to lead or follow as required has waned…Transformational leaders should not wait for them to get out of the way, you must kick them out of your way.” 

Dr Uzah is head of department, Mass Communication, Kwararafa University Wukari.

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Opinion

Sahara Reporters And Dearth Of Investigative Journalism – By Philip Agbese

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Pro-protest and pro-terrorist news blog, Sahara Reporters, has maxed out its usefulness and may just be on the last lap of its viability going by the nature of the sub-par news items it is now pushing out in the name of exclusives or investigative reports.
The latest of such impaired offering from Sahara Reporters was sensationally headlined, “EXPOSED: Buratai, Olonisakin, Two Other Service Chiefs Get Eight Flashy Vehicles, Over 40 Soldiers, More As New Retirement Benefits”.

To start with, there is mischief written all over the headline, which leveraged basic arithmetic to create a sense of impropriety. By lumping the cars for four military chiefs together it promoted the impression that each of the chiefs would get 40 cars when they retire as opposed to the four they are actually getting. Granted that there is the tyranny of the headline, which allows publication to be attention seeking, the body of the story did nothing to clarify this lumping together of the number of cars.
It also omitted to fairly disclose that the cars that goes to each retiring office holder are not necessarily situated in the same city. To have a sense of this, a person of the calibre of a military chief would use a staff car, a pilot and back-up at the very least. The gruesome murder of a former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Barde (rtd) is a lesson to how and why military commander of that status need security and logistics provided as part of their pension.
In my opinion thy the Chiefs deserve what is legally allotted to them even if it is 20 vehicles each and a private jet. Though I know that the modesty of these people will not permit them to have more than two vehicles. Also add that Buratai as COAS still attends public hospitals with his family anytime he requires medical attention.

Interestingly, the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers (HTACOS) that Sahara Reporters based its malicious publication upon was revised in 2017, which leaves one wondering how that is a big news. It is farcical how the news blog attempted to make it look like the Military chiefs were self-serving by unnecessarily drawing attention to how the HTACOS was revised under their watch. It shows the depth to which the discredited news platform will sink in its quest to tarnish the standing of certain people in Nigeria.

One would have expected that Sahara Reporters would have included in its report the retirement benefits of the counterparts of these service chiefs from other countries of corresponding means. Unfortunately, the web rag failed to do this basic investigation and comparison that would have rubbished its supposed exposé. It would have likely end up with a story that reveals how Nigeria is unable to keep up with other countries in the care of those that risked most of their productive lifetime in safeguarding the rest of the population. The bet is out as to if Sahara Reporters if ever capable of publishing such a report and that is assuming it has the capacity to be objective enough to do same.

Bottom line, the shallow report is a continuation of a tradition that is guaranteed to destroy Sahara Reporters as a news source. Emphasis is on news source because one dare does not qualify that phrase with the “credible” because it is an expression that should not exist in the same sentence with the name of that web rag.

It would be a pipe dream to expect that Sahara Reporters will turn a new leaf to embrace objectivity where Nigeria’s military is concerned. Its desperate bid to hurt that institution and the people that lead it is legendary. This makes it pertinent to counsel the military and its leadership not to waste any effort in addressing the mischief that is replete in that shabby piece. Joining issues with Sahara Reporters is akin to wrestling a hog, one would invariably come out of the tussle all soiled with mud even when one defeated the hog.

What the military chiefs should rather do is to continue to deliver to Nigeria the superlative performance that has been the source of the publication’s anger. The military should continue to decimate the Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists that Sahara Reporters is beholden of while sustaining the denial of space to other terrorist outfits that the news site is working for. They should continue to frustrate the foreign partners that collude with this evil platform to torment Nigerians by routing for the ascendancy of terrorism in the land.

For Sahara Reporters, we are assured that nothing will stop its death spiral as it is increasingly glaring that its publisher, Omoyele Sowore’s ambition of being named as a member of an interim government that would arise from the illegal sack of the current government by mob action is what is driving the dearth of investigative journalism in that publication. The only favour the publication owes Nigerians as it were is to speed up its own demise and it will achieve this by publishing the kind of junk referenced in this piece. It is a matter of time before its shallowness finally turns away those that had endured its lies for some time now.

Agbese is the CEO, TheNigerian News and wrote from Abuja

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Opinion

Nigeria And Her Betrayal By Diaspora – By Thomas Uzah PhD

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Interventions on the political and economic fronts by Nigerians in the Diaspora have been anything but complimentary of our leaders, systems and policies.

It is as if once our intellectuals find their feet in other shores, they develop a contemptuous mindset towards their country and anything happening in the country is viewed from negative prisms.

These Diasporans become perpetual critics whose thirst for castigating Nigerian leaders and their policies is hardly satisfied.

This posture had made many patriotic citizens to conclude that most of these Nigerians living in foreign countries are driven by regime hate hence are not capable of critically and objectively dissecting the situation they choose to interrogate not to talk of proffering  positive solutions.

Rather than come up with ideas for the political and socioeconomic upliftment of their people, Nigerians in the Diaspora have constituted themselves into a nation of nay sayers, cynics and pessimists trying hard to drag the Nigerian state down. 

It is typical of comments from there to reduce every economic breakthrough to happenstance, every good policy to a mere mistake while challenges are elevated as the norm.

While the nationals of other countries seek ways to better their country through researches and pooling of funds from their host countries, the Nigerian Diaspora community is more interested in seeing itself as an opposition party. 

In the 70s, it was a group of Malaysians in the Diaspora who stumbled on the Nigerian palm fruits  and through researches, were able to extract pure vegetable oil from the fruit which they now export to other countries.

But decades after we have sent our sons and daughters to the most technologically advanced countries, our mothers and sisters are still using grinding stones to grind pepper while our men are still using raffia to climb palm trees.

Good and commercially viable agricultural products still perish on their ways to the market because there’s no means of preserving them.

While they have failed in their patriotic duties of using their experiences to help in the development of their country, they appear unrelenting in the bid to rubbish whatever progress Nigeria is making.

This was why when Nigeria was categorised as one the fastest developing economies in the world, it did not make an impression on these set of intellectuals, neither have they said anything since our military turned the tide against terrorists and insurgents that have been disturbing the peace of the country.

Unofficial reports state that there are about 15 million Nigerians in the diaspora and can be found in most countries of the world especially the United States and the UK, followed by South Africa, UAE and other European countries such as Italy and Spain. 

The largest Nigerian Diaspora community is in the US with around followed by the UK.

A survey conducted in the US indicated that Nigerians in the US are one of the highest educated migrant groups.

The survey found that 29% of the Nigerian diaspora older than 25, held a master’s degree, Ph.D. or an advanced professional degree compared to 11% of the US population overall. 

It is said that no country in Sub-Saharan Africa receives more remittances than Nigeria, estimated by the World Bank at around 24.3B per year and 6% of GDP.

This makes Nigeria the sixth country in the world in remittance inflows. 

This ordinarily should have been celebrated as it is quite huge, but the benefits of such potentials are hardly seen at home. This id because they are only channelled towards luxurious and personal interests. Hardly are the inflows invested into the Nigerian economy with a view to ensuring a multiplier effect.

They are remittances through family ties and have not been substantial enough to jump start any aspect of the economy, let alone develop one.

Even the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, which “has the responsibility to coordinate and organize Nigerians in and from the Diaspora to contribute human capital and material resources, including their expertise, for the development of Nigeria and its constituent states,” has not been forthcoming in that regard. 

Worse still, many of the Nigerians in the Diaspora, wreak havoc of the image of Nigeria by their involvement in crime across the continents.

A release by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for America in year 2020 showed that Nigerian citizens are among the leading nationals in crime.  

Clearly, they have become bad influences on their home country by becoming emergency activists who go out to ruin the peace of the country . 

It has even been alleged that some of their unpatriotic interventions are sponsored to destabilise Nigeria for which they receive financial gratification. 

But these have got to stop. Nigerians abroad must start seeing the good in their country and project same to the world. They must serve as the catalyst for technological advancement and steer clear of the underground moves to use them to destabilise their own country .

Uzah PhD is Head, Mass Communication Department, Kwararafa University Wukari.

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Opinion

ICC: Understanding The Insurgency Within Insurgency – By Richard Murphy

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Nigeria has for over a decade been enmeshed in an intractable insecurity mess due to the unfortunate conspiracy against it by notable international bodies like the ICC and Amnesty International among others, and kowtowing the script of the renegade and insurgents on its soil.

This is indeed a very unfortunate and dreadful situation, as the plot of these people is to ensure a systematic breakup of the country, after it has inexplicably defied all their wicked predictions.

What is unclear or absurd to some, is how it is taking the Nigerian Armed Forces so long to totally bring the insurgents to a complete halt. Given the dare-devil and mindless mindset displayed by these faceless groups, such people are unaware of the huge obstacles strewn on the paths of the Armed Forces in curtailing internecine wars.
In the first place, the Armed Forces of every country is primarily trained and conditioned to wage wars against external aggression and defend its territorial boundaries only.

So, the Nigerian Armed Forces are saddled with a task that they were never prepared for, against their professional ethics to turn their guns against the very citizens they are supposed to protect. This is made more complex when one notes that the insurgents and terrorists are mingled with the civilian population, while the troops are in clear view of the renegades to pick out as guinea pigs.

It is indeed a very sad and miserable situation the Nigerian Armed Forces have found themselves in.
It is therefore most uncharitable for hitherto respected international bodies like the ICC and Amnesty International, to always rise up to the defense of the insurgents, any time the scale of balance is tilted against them.

It is a monumental shame for ICC that ought to know better to allege that the troops are either using excessive force or committing crimes against humanity, when routing the same insurgents that could stop at nothing and deploy any means to prosecute their macabre insidious agenda.

While it is understood that the Armed Forces are under obligation to ensure civilian casualties are minimized in the course of their operations, there is no justification for setting any standards for the Nigerian troops, unless to incapacitate them, faced with the potent danger like terrorism and insurgency.

It is absurd and lamentable that the ICC and its cohorts rather than call these deranged elements to order, or chart a path to ease the crisis, would prefer to stoke the embers of the inferno and tactically fuelling the insurgency further. Less we forget, the International Criminal Court is an international organization and as well a Tribunal that sits in The Hague, in Netherlands, is the first and only permanent International Court with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

It is in every material fact intended to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore exercise its jurisdiction, only when National courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute such crimes.
Against this backdrop, the antics of ICC and it’s cohorts to level allegations of excess force or crimes against humanity on Nigerian troops, smacks of deep hatred for the Nigerian people and a deliberate ploy to frustrate the Government from overcoming this scourge. If the ICC is sincere in its obligation to protect humanity and human rights, what stops it from condemning the posture of the insurgents and terrorists who are bent on rubbishing Nigeria’s Sovereignty?

It is evident and crystal clear that the ICC’s claims must be aimed at discrediting the gains being recorded by the Nigerian troops, which according to the National Coordinator of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement, (CNM) Patriot Sabo Odeh, is a vivid attempt to undermine the efforts of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.

This explains why ICC and Amnesty International, always abashedly raise their voices to stop the momentum in their nefarious bid to not only prolong the insurgency war but to as well demoralize the Nigerian troops and invariably embarrass the Government.

It is in the light of these facts that the Chief of Army Staff Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai and the CNM boss , earlier urged the troops to discountenance ICC allegations and remain focused on the task at hand.

ICC, Amnesty international and their cohorts have no moral fabric to question how Nigeria deals with its internal security challenges, not after they have demonstrated times without court that they mean to derail our territorial integrity, rubbish our sovereignty and have openly displayed their contempt for our heterogeneous setting.

So, Nigeria needs to brace up to decisively tackle this scourge regardless of empty charades of the promoters and sympathizers of the terrorists and insurgent groups. God is always on the side of the just and would surely see Nigeria through these harrowing hard times.

It is therefore imperative to now know the enormity of the task at hand. We must all rise up to the challenge and speak with one voice, because ICC, Amnesty International and their cohorts are only exploiting our fault lines to achieve their nefarious plot against our collective wellbeing.

Since ICC has abandoned its statutory mandates and takes delight in compounding our insecurity challenges, it is inevitable to embark on concerted efforts to woo well meaning international power blocs to see reason and check-mate this evil plot.

The international community should put its searchlight on ICC and it’s co-travelers, as they have derailed, compromised and doing the bidding of face-less paymasters.
The insecurity challenges in Nigeria really appear daunting, but with resolute determination, valour and dynamism we can overcome this malady.

The agents of destabilization have perfected their inglorious plans to make a mockery of our democracy.
Nigeria can no longer afford to treat the ravaging insecurity challenges with kid gloves, since our troops understand the danger posed to our democracy by this intractable insurgency, we should rally round them and give all the support they need to check this debilitating menace.

All those either colluding or conniving with these renegade elements do not deserve any sympathy or mercy. Anyone feigning support for the insurgents and terrorists, are in all material fact enemies of our dear fatherland and should be so treated. As an international organization that courts global relevance, ICC cannot and should not be seen to be with the hunt and the hunted.

The territorial integrity of Nigeria supersedes any veiled inordinate ambition of any group, no matter the immense resources at its disposal.  There is no doubt that ICC, Amnesty international and their ilk have hidden agenda and would stop at nothing to play out their given scripts, but we must resist them stoutly, with total vehemence and bravado.

Thank God, the whole world is keenly watching and we should press for overhauling of the structures in ICC, to ensure the intendments that necessitated its existence, are duly served.
Institutions may be noble in frame work but the human angle if left unchecked, could mar, imperil and rubbish its essence.

This is the crass state the ICC has presently degenerated into; hence the UN as a family must save ICC from itself.
The leadership of ICC having derailed since, are now overwhelmed with scheming to appear playing to the gallery while in fact acting out given scripts of their paymasters to the detriment of the sacred responsibilities, they ought to be upholding.

In such a scenario, ICC stands discredited, compromised and lacks the moral fabric to question how Nigeria prosecutes this nauseating insurgency strife. It cannot be working in partnership with our enemies and yet expect us to take it seriously, this is simply because ICC is yet to come to terms with the stern stuff Nigerians are made of.
In the light of the foregoing, Nigerians must eschew tribal-religious differences and work concertedly to stamp out the insurgency threat.

As it is, Nigeria is facing the terrorists cum insurgents at the war front and in the same breath being distracted at will by ICC and Amnesty international, whenever the scale of balance tilts against the renegades.
Since the infractions of ICC and Amnesty international are getting bolder and unceasing, it is imperative to change our approach to the manner of dealing with this itch.

ICC and Amnesty international must not wish us well before we survive. Our survival is from God, who has ordained our existence and weathered all our storms, so it is high time we called the bluff of ICC and its cohorts.
Nigeria is indeed destined for greatness. To attain such a height is a matter of dint of hard work, overcoming all obstacles with total focus on the goals. The present insurgency scourge will in no time fizzle out, once our leaders summon the political will to do the needful. What is fueling the insurgency craze is ineffective planning of our affairs and now that Government is tackling the issue frontally by ascertaining who every Nigerian is, we are sure to soon get there and ICC and its cohorts can go to blazes.

Murphy is a security expert based in Calabar.

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