TY Buratai: A General in the Eyes of the Media
By Mahmud Abdulsalam
The only time I could have had a chance, albeit a brief talk, with the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, was about a month ago. Alas, it was not destined to be. It was during the #EndSARS ‘drama’.
PRNigeria, our ‘darling’ media platform, here in Abuja, was the reason I could have spoken directly with the COAS.
Like others, PRNigeria, also reported extensively the entire EndSARS demonstrations, across the country. Our reports, however, were laced with concrete and solid facts. I mean, iron-cast facts, with convincing details.
Though, we were apparently unsympathetic but very objective and fair on the Nigerian Army, especially its role on the lingering Lekki Shootings incident on October 20, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf, still, perhaps, not minding our editorial stance, acknowledge the ‘works’ of our media platform.
How? You may wish to know. Okay, here is it. The COAS, at a conference with Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) of the Army, and General Officers Commanding (GOCs), among others, at the Army Headquarters (AHQ), began. “Where is PRNigeria‘s reporter?” I was told he had asked.
But my colleague, who were there to cover the auspicious event, replied him, saying I was not yet around. Mind you, I was not the only reporter invited, even as PRNigeria was not the only media organisation he publicly acknowledged at the event. He did inquire about some of my colleagues.
It may be the first time, Buratai would personally acknowledge PRNigeria at any fora, but his relationship with the media has been long-standing. He has kept faith in the media, as a public figure who loves the media. This, perhaps, is why he has been warmly welcoming to his office, the editorial team of various media establishments, for partnership agreements and collaborations.
The DailyTrust and DailySun newspapers’ team were once his guests. The Nigerian Army of Buratai has effectively involved and carried along the correspondents who cover its activities. While there are reporters in Abuja and other safer places reporting about its activities, the embedded journalists attached to the COAS, have been dishing out stories from the volatile North East.
Add all the above with the streams of exclusive chats he normally grants media outfits, and one would have no choice but to conclude that Buratai, indeed, is receptive and friendly towards the Fourth Estate of the Realm.
In terms of his stewardship as the COAS since 2015, let me recall this. Prior to his appointment, Boko Haram insurgents had succeeded in instilling fear in the minds of Nigerians. The Nigerian military was losing its officers and men in large numbers. A military, regarded as one of the best in the world, became the butt of jokes, apparently because the past COAS did not do the needful.
A compassionate leader that he is, Buratai does not joke with the welfare of his officers and men. That his officers and men should always be in their right frame of mind in order to discharge their duties professionally, is what bothers him. Unlike in the recent past, priority has now been given to the ammunition and weapons used by the soldierd to combat insurgency and other crimes, among other steps taking by the army chief. What about the allowances and bonuses of soldiers? They are now paid to troops as when due.
Gen. Buratai, solely engineered the establishment of special Army schools like the Nigerian Army Aviation School for training pilots and crew technicians; and the Nigerian Army University Biu (NAUB), which is spearheading the training of soldiers on modern technological warfare.
With the Aviation school already afloat, it will not be long before the Nigerian Army, under the pragmatic leadership of Buratai, launches the Nigerian Army Aviation wing, perhaps with a view to battling Boko Haram and ISWAP elements.
In partnership with some private organizations, the Nigerian Army is investing. But investing in the NA Post Service Housing Development Limited. This is a project for soldiers, with first, and special emphasis on soldiers who served in the counter-insurgency operations.
Since coming on board, the amiable Gen. Buratai, made sure that soldiers, who are still in service are no longer constrained to inhabit ramshackle and dilapidated Barracks, with their families. Small wonder, Army Barracks have undergone a facelift, with equipped schools, hospitals, water and other amenities for convenience of soldiers and their families.
In just within five years, the Nigerian Army is now the proud owners of two new and additional referral hospitals. One is in Ebonyi and the other in Maiduguri, with the mandate to serve both the Military and civilians.
Buratai, a celebrated military officer, has demonstrated exceptional leadership, evidenced in his frequent visits to troops in the Theatre of War, to motivate and lift their fighting spirit. And as a thorough-bred professional soldier, he has ensured that the Nigerian Army, under his watch, dispatches its duties in line with its constitutional mandates, and global practices, especially in terms of obeying the rules of engagement and safeguarding human rights.
The rescue of about 101 abducted female students at Dapchi, in Yobe State, together with several women and children from the enclaves and cocoon of Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists, is another eloquent testimony to the fact that the counter-insurgency war, since the coming of Buhari, is in another gear level. Though, much still remains to be done, Nigerians, can do well to support the Army in its bid to stamp out insurgency, banditry and other crimes.
Nevertheless, the odds are not staked against the Nigerian Army of Lt. Gen. Buratai. Since it is an Army led by a gallant and fearless general, we are sure it is going to have a date with victory. In other words, with the indefatigable Gen. Buratai, it is only a matter of time before Nigerians and the country itself, heave a sigh of relief from the cantankerous maladies of insurgency, banditry, and kidnapping, to mention a few.
Asst Editor, PRNigeria