Unique style of counter insurgency

Leadership has many trappings. It attracts an irresistible allure and at the same time ensnares dangerously.  Those who fail to create impact in leadership are constrained in multiple ways. Impactful leadership entails much more than merely possessing the qualities or knowledge of leadership virtues, but the boldness and courage to exhibit and apply it.


In the more than two years of the leadership of the Nigerian Army, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai has demonstrated in actions and mien  of his proper grasps of what it takes to excel in leadership. Saddled with the arduous task of leading the counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria, the Army Chief has not only reunited a once fractured house, but led troops to corner victory in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists on several fronts.  

Gen. Buratai drapes with constant innovations and reforms. At every point, he enlivens the spirit of soldering in troops with something new and refreshing.  A few days back, the Army Chief again broke new grounds in the decoration of promoted senior Army officers.


He decorated 43 out of the 45 newly promoted Majors-General in the Nigerian Army. But unlike in the past, when such grandeur ceremonies held in the chilly air-conditioned halls of the Army Headquarters, Abuja, Lieutenant General Buratai relocated the venue  for the decoration of promoted officers to  Maiduguri.

Nigerians know Maiduguri has been the former epicenter of the extremists and lethal sect,  Boko Haram insurgents. The event was strategic and fascinating in many perspectives, but was very profoundly in the sheer of number of Army  Generals promoted in one swoop and the significance of their decoration outside   the Army Headquarters,  Abuja.

The Nigerian Army made it clear that the officers deserved the elevation, as effective and active forces in the battle against Boko Haram terrorists. Some of them have also proven to be the splendid drivers of the reforms and innovations in the Nigerian Army launched by Gen. Buratai  which have  repositioned the Nigerian Army as a professional, patriotic and disciplined force to the admiration of Nigerians and the world.

Every reason adduced for breaking the culture or tradition of decorating the promoted officers outside Army AHQs is important and  a departure from what has been institutionalized even  by the other arms of the Nigerian military. But analysts say, the Maiduguri twists to the 2017 ceremony, embodies and exudes relevance beyond the veneer.

The manifest wisdom of General Buratai by this act is to expose Nigerians, without much ado,  to the indisputable reality of the decimation and defeat of Boko Haram insurgency in the country. Its illogical that a defeated army would be decorating officers at the theatre of war.

The decoration of the newly promoted officers in Maiduguri is self-explanatory and Buratai’s clever and loud statement to Nigeria and the world that Nigerian troops have undeniably and evidentially conquered terrorists. The Army boss is convinced that sustaining the military hold on the Northeast  would define the security architecture of Nigeria and spares nothing to hit targets. Again, a defeated Army would not be decorating officers on the battlefield.

Gen. Buratai told excited officers and troops at the event that  “We have won the ground war and the Boko Haram terrorists substantially degraded. We have secured Nigeria’s territorial integrity and equally maintained her sovereignty. We have carried out our tasks proudly and professionally. Therefore, the final defeat of the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists and the stabilization efforts in conjunction with other security agencies must be uppermost in your minds.”

While the Nigerian Army attaches utmost premium on merit, promotion of the 45 officers, selected based on impact and influence in winning the terrorism war and spearheading reforms in the Army,   unconsciously reflected federal character. It is a profound expression that today’s Nigerian Army does not bow to the dictates of ethnicity, religion or sectionalism and other primordial interests in the discharge of professional duties.  

It projects the Nigerian Army as a force united both at home and on the warfront. It presents soldiers, as winning the counter-terrorism war together as one big indissoluble family, bond by the determination to keep defending the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Nigeria.

Therefore, it is no surprise that a perusal of the list of the promoted and decorated Army generals, indicates finesse, professionalism and patriotism in their various career profiles. It’s a loud statement about competence of the officers.

For instance, Major General JE Jakko brilliantly performed the onerous task of leading and supervising Gen. Buratai’s ongoing reforms in the Army on accountability and transparency. It is attested by the sanitization in the management of Army finances.  Each of the promoted officer has proven his mettle as a battle- tested soldier and a signpost to the world why  the Nigerian Army under is unbeatably,  the  best in Africa.

Nothing can be more edifying with the decoration of the officers in Maiduguri than the silent declaration that no part of Nigeria territory can ever be subjected to the dictates and power of terrorists or any evil sect anymore.  The Nigerian territories  seized by Boko Haram insurgents have not only been  reclaimed,  but special fortress of insurgents like Sambisa forest home of factional leader, Abubakar Shekau  and the “Alagarno forest’’,  reputed as the  spiritual headquarters of the Boko Haram insurgents have  assumed new status as military  training fields and camps.

Also, the leadership of the Nigerian Army felt that for railroading the success  of the counter-insurgency operations in the  Northeast and other parts of the county,  it is  apparent  the last solider in Nigeria  endured  exceptional pains and  hardship, deserving of  a reward.

Part of the lessons that can be gleaned from Gen. Buratai’s unique leadership style by this simple act is the advertisement of his commitment to the counter insurgency war in the Northeast. His ever willingness to use the slightest opportunity at his disposal to fraternally and rewardingly engage with the troops on multifaceted aspects of welfare.  

Instructively too, the Army Chief rummaged the conscience of the civil authority to step up efforts in the collective desire to finally defeat terrorism. This message came up very strongly.  The Army boss pleaded that the civil leadership should necessarily take on the “salient aspects of this war to the remaining ill-fated insurgents.’’ He canvassed the re-establishment of local administrations in councils; erection of enlightenment infrastructures by civil authorities’ to “… fight the ideological, social and propaganda wars,” of terrorists. Nothing can be farther from the truth.


Okanga wrote this piece from Agila, Benue State.

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