Emmanuel Onwubiko: Army Chief CONFAB and intelligence gathering

  We in the head office Abuja of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) had cogent reason to travel on Monday morning for ...


 

We in the head office Abuja of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) had cogent reason to travel on Monday morning for a day long investigative findings to Enugu, South East of Nigeria following huge body of complaints by thousands of residents of the Igbo region against brutality of the Nigeria Police Force and other sections of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Predominantly, complainants say a lot of Igbo youths face arbitrary arrests and illegal detention accompanied by heightened physical, psychological and emotional torture over trumped up allegations of belonging to the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) which was proscribed by the federal government and the South East governments over three Years ago. The findings of our tour are issues for another day but suffice it to mention that as we’re busy interviewing some residents of South East of Nigeria over these unprecedented accusations of Police and military brutality against civilians, one fact emerged showing the poor appreciation of intelligence driven security functions by the security agencies. Incidentally, even President Muhammadu Buhari was then in far away Abuja lambasting the military for their inability to cultivate the use of intelligence to do their jobs.

The President himself a retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari, had urged the Nigeria Army to do more in intelligence gathering and synergy with other security agencies in order to tame terrorism and other forms of insecurity bedevilling the country.

According to him, the war against terrorism is intelligence-driven, saying that the army needed to gather information and process them into actionable intelligence for the conduct of their operations.

Buhari said this at the Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference in Abuja on Monday.

The president who was represented by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, however, urged the Nigerian Army to remain apolitical.

He said, “The war against terrorism and insurgency is intelligence-driven. It requires the gathering of information and processing them into timely and actionable intelligence for the conduct of operations.

“It also means synergy of efforts and collaboration amongst all the security agencies. I, therefore, charge you to do more, in your information gathering efforts and the level of synergy amongst intelligence outfits in order to comprehensively defeat all forms of insurgency and terrorism in our country within the shortest possible time.

“While performing your constitutional roles, I urge you to remain apolitical and continue to operate within the framework of the principles of fundamental human rights and the laws of armed conflict.”

He added that while some equipment procured are now being delivered, others would arrive within the shortest possible time.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Farouk Yahaya, said the lack of the needed vehicles and weapons for the operations affected the morale of the troops.

He said, “The dearth of requisite vehicles and weapon platforms to provide the needed support for operations has a negative impact on the morale of troops.

“To this end, I directed the Command Engineering Depot and Nigerian Army Special Vehicle Plant in conjunction with the NAEME and other stakeholders to look inwards and see how best these challenges could be tackled.

“Consequently, within available resources, a total of 10 AFVs, 37 B vehicles and 777 small arms and light weapons, as well as 7 x 155mm artillery guns, were repaired, refurbished and remodified.

He, however, said the security situation in the North West and North Central which hitherto was tensed due to the increased activities of armed bandits among others is now relatively calm.

These emerging issues aforementioned reminds us of the universal adage that good deeds trail a leader to even lonely corners of deserts in a natural response to the instincts of appreciation in mankind. This is because one of the Nigerian born Army Generals who utilised his stay in the top position of the Nigerian Army to institutionalise intellectualism and intelligence-driven implementation of the military’s constitutional duties is the recently retired Army Chief born from one of the minority Ethnicity in Borno, North East of Nigeria Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai.

Not all Nigerians are thankless people and in spite of the generalized degeneration in the land, good leaders are feted and honoured by foresighted and conscionable Nigerians.

The name General Tukur Yusuf Buratai might not fade away anytime soon as it has continued to resonate with the exploits of the Nigerian Army in the prosecution of the war against insurgency in the country. This is because, while the former Chief of Army Staff held sway, it was indeed a golden era of combat and intellectualism in the annals of the Nigerian Army.

It is no news that Gen. Buratai (rtd) battled covert and overt forces with the troops he led to anchor succor from insecurity to Nigerians. In the process, he withered the storm of official blackmails, name-dropping, smear campaigns, malicious persecutions and hate sermons on his person and the Nigerian Army from enemies of Nigeria, who plotted his failure on that national assignment. Yet he outsmarted them in their numbers collectively.

But what is most stricking, which really sparked off the wisdom or reason justifying this reflection on Buratai’s legacy of intellectualism was that in spite of his arduous schedules fighting multifaceted insurgencies and terrorism, Gen. Buratai still found time to think and invest in the education of Nigerian Army, which could benefit other arms of the military and even civilians.

While, many federal ministers of education who have spent several years on the seat and left, but could not boast of a government school built in their lifetime in Office abound, it is quite appalling that it is the experience even when they presided over government’s establishment of universities under their tenure.

Observably, life has different experiences for different people. Clearly, there are very many former Vice Chancellors of both state and federal universities whom God Almighty has not granted the foresight to understand their communities are deserving of higher institutions, yet they have risen to the pinnacle of knowledge but have abandoned their localities in the abyss of darkness.

However, in contrast, Gen. Buratai (Rtd) has proven to be one of the greatest accomplished soldiers, innovators, strategists and conquerors to ever emerge in Nigeria’s recent history of the Army.

In his desire to transform and enhance operational efficiency of soldiers in combating insurgency, the former Army Chief, while in office pushed the Nigerian Army to the next level by establishing the first Nigerian Army Aviation School (Corps).

With this record breaking intellectual legacy, Gen. Buratai has conspicuously placed the Nigerian Army in Africa as one of the few armies with an independent air wing from the Air Force.

That’s the extent Gen. Buratai applied intellectualism in search of peace and security for Nigerians. These leadership attributes are uncommon in most leaders in our clime. Beyond sentiments, it explains why he stands tall at all times and his name may not fade away anytime soon.

And to further demonstrate his exceptional intellectualism and commitment to the continuous training of soldiers and exposure to the ever dynamic world of knowledge in warfare, Gen. Buratai (rtd.) comprehended and conceived the idea of Nigerian Army University, Biu (NAUB), which he aggressively pursued to fruition within a short time.

Possibly, this intellectual leadership foresight of Gen. Buratai can only be appreciated if one dissects the scope of the Nigerian Army University Biu. The specialized university, which was commissioned in October, 2018 and commenced its maiden academic session thereafter, was structured to favourably compete with some of the best Universities in the world in the next three decades.

Remarkably, NAUB was conceptualized as a center of excellence and positioned to lead scientific and technological researches and breakthroughs in military studies and conventional courses.

Its faculties and departments are a blend of specialized security courses as well as those offered by conventional institutions to carter for the civilian quota of its admissions.

An insight into NAUB reveals an exhilarating solid foundation, kick-starting with seven faculties. These includes; a distinctive Faculty of Military Technology and a Faculty of Military Policy, Logistics and Strategy.

Others include faculties run by conventional universities such as Science, Technology, Social Sciences, Environmental Studies, Administrative and Management Studies, as well as Schools and Centres. NAUB is a complete academic hub for Nigerians desirous of knowledge.

As already stated, NAUB admits both military and civilian students with a greater percentage in favour of civilians. And its staff composition also reflects the same mix. More so, as posited by Gen. Buratai (Rtd.) himself, NAUB is hued to function on the principles of creativity, self-reliance and self-sufficiency.

Pertinent to mention here that for Buratai as Chief of Army Staff, emphasis on training and capacity building were indeed strategic. This was in his recognition that in modern times, tanks and guns are not the only weapons of warfare. This remains exemplary now and in the years to come.

So, for a leader good in the warfront and equally splendid in intellectual endowments, the naming of scholarly institutions in the name of Buratai is a loud proclamation of appreciation of his many discrete impacts on humanity and legacy of intellectualism

Worthy to mention as in 2019, when Ebonyi State University named its newly established Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies after Buratai. Naming the newly established institute after Gen. Buratai in itself is not sensational, but what is more captivating is the reason adduced for such honour to the former Army boss.

As revealed by the Vice Chancellor of EBSU; Prof. Chigozie Egbu, Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff (as he then was) deserved the honour for his selfless service to the nation and humanity. They have noticed his splendor in the promotion and maintenance of peace and security in Nigeria.

By implication, the entire people of Ebonyi state scored Gen. Buratai and the Nigerian Army distinctively on securing Nigeria. The people also specially recognized the contributions and sacrifices of the Nigerian Army in ending the assailing myriad of security threats, which almost consumed the country before Gen. Buratai was burdened with the task of restoring security sanity in the country.

Again, barely two weeks before the Ebonyi State University named its newly established Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies after Buratai, the Igbinedion University, Okada, had opened the floodgate by honoring the Nigerian Army. It also named its Centre for Contemporary Security Affairs after Gen. Buratai. Its strategic and encouraging, to say the least.

The centre, which the institution described as the first of its kind in Sub-Sahara Africa, was established in line with the Institution’s commitment to teaching, research and community relations.

The Vice-Chancellor of the university; Prof. Lawrence Ezemonye, revealed that the centre would “present veritable possibilities as it focuses on security challenges that are contemporary in nature.

“It will frequently bring together the academia and the military to compare notes, challenge the status quo in an intellectually-stimulating discourse on security and allied contemporary issues.”

It cannot be gainsaid nor overemphasized that the academia is one place where enduring archives that will outlast can be guaranteed. As such, Buratai’s enduring legacy of intellectualism has raised the pedestal for the world to see the former Army Chief as a beacon, who echoes uncommon leadership of the Army and a new public lifestyle. He epitomizes enduring peace, which he devoted the last few years of his military career to entrench in his fatherland.

TY Buratai, now Ambassador of Nigeria to the Republic of Benin in some quarters, has been described as that Chief of Army Staff who left enduring legacies that redefined the ethos in counterinsurgency operations and civil-military relations.

These two pillars were somewhat the hallmarks of the TY Buratai era in the Nigerian Army. The records are readily available for perusal. Hate him or love him; he was the soldier and the commander at the same time. He was in the trenches with the troops, commissioned projects, and engaged the intellectual community. He was robust and broad in defense of democracy in Nigeria. He remains so physically fit that a mid ranking Air force officer confided in this writer how the then Army Chief Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai ran a race consistently from Madala to the Army institute in Aso-Villa and never stopped for a moment even when many other younger officers slowed down and stopped to catch their breath before proceeding.

Hence, we must agree that his appointment as Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Republic of Benin shortly after retiring from active service was very strategic and a further proof of his legacy of intellectualism as much regional cooperation in addressing the security challenges in Nigeria is gathering momentum.

Nigeria is indeed blessed to have such a personality. TY Buratai has undoubtedly raised the bar in leadership; and it behoves on policy makers to look beyond western security templates of Islamic terrorism and explore the possibility of adopting the findings of these institutions named after the lessons of courage, character and competence of Amb. Tukur Yusuf Buratai in finding lasting solutions to terrorism in Nigeria.

Buratai’s era as the Chief of Army Staff was indeed an era of the enduring legacy of Intellectualism.

*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and at one time a National Commissioner of the NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.

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