The war against terror assumed a disturbing dimension especially with the commando manner and sophisticated weapons coupled with the devastation these attacks left on the people and communities.
Since 2009, when the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists originated in Borno state, lives, properties and destruction of inestimable proportion has been recorded. Life has not been the same in the state and a large percentage of North East geopolitical zone. Sometime ago, the sect occupied local government areas in Borno state and foisted their way of life and flags signifying total conquest and capture of such territories.
These attacks permeated almost the whole of the North East zone and beyond almost plunging the nation into a full blown religious war. This has led to a mutual suspicion that exist between the predominant Muslim North and Christian South.
Gen Buratai assumed office in July 2015, at the time the country was bedeviled with a preponderance of insecurity, ranging from the youth restiveness in the Niger Delta, the dreaded Boko Haram/ ISWAP in the North East, armed banditry and the herders and farmers clashes in the North Central geo political zone posed a very difficult time for the country requiring a firm and thorough bred force led by a well groomed, dedicated and experienced leader.
At the time Lt Gen TY Buratai took over the reins of the NA, Boko Haram/ ISWAP attacks were almost been accepted as normal occurrences all over the the country. It was becoming strange to wake up and not hear news of Boko Haram ransacking a community or bombing a place, killing and maiming innocent Nigerians.
With the appointment of Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai as Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and leader of the counter-insurgency operations. Many who knew him heaved a sigh of relief. Gen. Buratai parades excellent credentials in such warfare. Gen. Buratai had led the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF). As such this was a familiar terrain.
Gen. Buratai, faced the war against terror with the disposition of a no nonsense combatant, clearing and establishing military formations in territories hitherto occupied by the insurgency. He quickly realized that to win the war, a strong and professional army was mandatory. He understood the danger of fighting with a demoralized army. Gen. Buratai introduced several measures to boost the morale and welfare of the army.
He began the process of purchase and refurbishing military hardware, equipment and weapons to combat the insurgency who oftentimes appeared to be daring in their posture. It is to the credit of Gen. Buratai that the Nigerian Army boasted of having enormous military hardware. Such that was never bought in the history of the army.
The chief of Army staff has consistently called on Nigerians to provide credible intelligence to the army as intelligence gathering is key to tackling insecurity. He has advanced in blocking sources of information, food supply, arms and ammunition to the insurgents. This led to the fall of the dreaded sambisa in 2016 and several other towns formerly in firm control of the terrorists.
Through the super camp strategy, Gen. Buratai has evolved a master plan of taking war to the door steps of the terrorist, away from the reactionary approach adopted in the past. This art of war coupled with credible intelligence gathering has seen the destruction and killing of several terrorists leaders, camps and hide outs through a coordinated ground and aerial bombardment.
Buratai having studied the strategy of the terrorists who descend on motor bikes in a guerrilla style and not the usual conventional war approach to attack identified spots has retooled the troops with Motor Bike battalion to forestall attacks from the terrorists. This battalion uses the same asymmetric warfare employed by the insurgents. This has added capacity and ability to move swiftly. Thus reducing the BokoHaram/ISWAP attacks to isolated soft targets.
Gen. Buratai has demonstrated leadership by abandoning the comfort of his office in Abuja to join the troops at the war front and lead the war himself. This will not not only boost the morale of the troops but will further enhance proper coordination of intelligence, logistics and man power to finally clear and destroy the remnants of the terrorists and their hideouts. He has maintained that Insurgency has ended, that BHT has been technically defeated but terrorism will still persist as in any other country that has experienced it. For example, Colombia that experienced over 50 years terrorism still experiences pockets of terrorist acts going on. The same thing with the Middle East.
The terrorists having suffered major defeats from the fire power of Gen. Buratai and his troops have shifted attention to propaganda and make belief especially on social media platforms. The nature of social media which allows easy access to information and it’s wide spread. In reportage of conflict or insurgency, the media, be it conventional or social media owe the country a patriotic responsibility to remain objective. sensational reportage of some news agencies especially online news mediums and social media contribute to instilling fear in the citizens while painting a picture of the troops loosing the war. The Nigerian army deserve the support of all and sundry in this last lap of the war.
Countries that have fought wars with terrorists and insurgents understand that bringing an end to terrorism is beyond having a good armory and sophisticated weapons especially that the sophistry of the army is threatened by the nature of the guerrilla warfare and the uncooperative posture of the civilians whose settlements the terrorist hide in.
General Tukur Buratai a combatant, on assumption of office as chief of Army staff swung into action, studied the nature of the war and introduced strategies which has destabilized the terrorists. They took the terrorists by surprise in their fortress killing and destroying their hideouts, arresting their informants and cutting their food and logistic supply chain. The aftermath of taking the war to the door steps of the terrorist has resulted to their being caged. Abubakar Shekau, recently rained curses on Lt. Gen. Buratai in lamentation of the devastation and number of foot soldiers he is losing to the Nigerian troops.
To Gen. Yusuf Buratai, Officers and men of the Nigerian Army owe it a duty to save our country from the menace of terrorists, bandits and all forms of criminalities and victory is non negotiable.
Msuaan, a public affairs commentator writes from Kaduna, Nigeria.