Of a truth, a prophet is not without honour except in his hometown. Against the backdrop of recent military coups in West and Central Africa, Nigeria is enjoying relative peace because the present crop of Nigerian army are thoroughbred professionals who understand the code of ethics and the constitution.
This assertion was confirmed when more recently, the current Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja, declared that the Nigerian military would always defend the nation’s democracy at all costs using every constitutional means.
Interestingly, the foundation for this relative peace Nigerians are enjoying against any notion of coup plotting from the military was solidified by the former Chief of Army Staff and ex-Nigerian Ambassador to Benin Republic, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai (rtd) who with dedication and adherence to military professionalism built a Nigerian Military that is thoroughbred professional and can be a force to be reckoned with globally.
Like him or hate him, he is one of the finest pure-bred military brass in the history of the Nigerian Military ( A visit to the military HQ would attest to this)
His mission to make the Nigerian Military apolitical began in 2016 at a time when the duly elected president of Nigeria was battling with severe health issues and there were rumors of a coup d’etat, unlike a greedy General who is tempted by all and sundry, he read the riot act to his officers maintaining that their primary role and mission is safeguarding the constitution and entity called Nigeria.
According to the report by Vanguard Newspaper in 2016, in an obvious step to put to check the rumoured coup threat, Buratai summoned all Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) and General Officers Commanding (GOCs) of the Nigerian Army to an emergency meeting.
The meeting was called to strategize toward preventing any such incidents and other security challenges in the country.
Also, in 2017, He put in place several measures to nip in the bud any attempt by army officers to disrupt the democratic process in Nigeria by coup. This he even disclosed to the former vice-president of Nigeria, Prof., Yemi Osinbajo. He told his men that he had all the security checks through which he monitored all these attempts by politicians to lure them into such a dangerous venture. He proffered a way out for them, resign voluntarily and join politics.
Furthermore, in 2020, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai warned newly promoted generals against plotting a coup to topple Nigeria’s democratically elected government.
Speaking during the decoration of 39 newly promoted major generals, he warned that the Nigerian army would not tolerate any coup plot.
General Buratai disclosed that some army generals were being approached by politicians, adding that the generals were being watched.
“Democracy has come to stay. We will not tolerate any agent of destabilization. The years of military misadventure in politics have never carried us anywhere. It is over,” he stated.
He added: “Do not hobnob with politicians. At this rank of two-star generals, do not lobby for appointment. If you want to lobby for an appointment, lobby the Chief of Army Staff and you can only do this through hard work, discipline, and loyalty.
“The crop of officers decorated will never be dragged into any interest that is contrary to the sustenance of democracy in our nation.
“All our eyes are on you. We know there are several moves to get your attention. You must make sure that whatever you are doing, and when some persons approach you, you must act within the confines of the constitution.”
One salient strategy adopted by Lt Gen Buratai Rtd was the continuous engagement of the officers and soldiers all the year round with series of exercises and drills. There was never a dull moment in the Nigerian Army during his tenure in office as COAS.
He was once asked why all these exercise CROCODILE SMILE, PYTHON DANCE, HARBIN KUNAMA, SAHEL SANITY etc?
General Buratai smiled and said ” you see, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. We must continually keep our troops engaged professionally. Essentially these are all training exercises to ensure the troops remain professional. It is equally a strategy to ensure that they maintain focus on their constitutional roles and not to be distracted by anti-democratic forces to derail the national democratic political order. My insistence on these exercises achieved 2 things. First; high professional standard through regular training and secondly; preservation of democracy.”
Those close to General Buratai would attest to it that he is an extremely intelligent officer who is not governed by greed or lust for positions. Rather, he is a man on a mission with a vision, a line crosser, and a barrier breaker. Read The Legends Of Buratai and you will have a peep into his kind of person.
Did he foresee the series of military coups that would sweep out civilian administrations and put the West and Central African regions on edge? An experienced Army general is like a prophet who gives prophetic warnings about security issues within and around the world. Truth, be told, The former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General TY Buratai Rtd is one of the most seasoned army intelligence General the country has ever produced.
This is not unconnected to his timely report weeks before the series of coups plaguing the African region when he declared that it was high time African governments should classify military Coup D’etat as organized crime. His report came in handy.
Speaking at an International conference on ‘Organized Crimes Network as Emerging Threats to National Security’, at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre, Abuja, the former Ambassador to Benin Republic said “Coups should also be identified and termed as organized crime. That is why I am happy that President Bola Tinubu emphasized to African leaders, the need to checkmate incidences of coups at the last meeting of African leaders.
“They (military) can have many ways to influence the government to make sure that security role is played appropriately and also allow the democrats, the civilians, to perform their roles properly.
“The best way is for the military to remain within the constitutional bounds and also encourage the civil administration to do their best to solve the governance challenges or the developmental challenges of our country.
“It is by doing so that everybody playing his role, the democrats doing their own properly, the politicians, the military, the populace performing their own roles properly. The politicians and the military should try to avoid being influenced externally to disrupt the democratic process in the country.
Continuing Buratai said, “With Nigeria currently grappling with many emerging threats, the conference holds particular significance for the Bola Tinubu government, providing an opportunity to examine successful initiatives implemented elsewhere and adapt them to the local context.
“Organized crime refers to a complex network of individuals or groups engaging in unlawful activities, often with a well-defined hierarchy and operating in a systematic manner to achieve their objectives. They engage in violence, corruption or related activities in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or material benefit.
“The causes of organized crime in the Sahel, particularly in Nigeria, are undoubtedly multifaceted. One of the primary contributing factors is the existence of porous borders, which allows for the easy movement of criminals and illegal goods across national boundaries.
“Also, prolonged conflicts in countries like Somalia, DR Congo, Libya, Mali, Burkina Faso, and now Sudan have a direct impact on the rise of organized crimes. Additionally, the prevalence of poverty and unemployment within the region creates a desperate environment that can push individuals towards criminal activities as a means of survival.
Greed and the pursuit of personal gain contribute to the proliferation of criminal networks, as individuals are enticed by the potential financial rewards.
“Furthermore, the absence of effective law enforcement (police), weak deterrence mechanisms and weak governance structures, further enable criminal organizations to operate with impunity.
“The economic hardships resulting from the implementation of anti-contagion measures made some of the world’s most vulnerable populations more susceptible to human trafficking and various forms of exploitation.
“The oil market experienced a dramatic collapse primarily caused by a decrease in demand. As a result, vessels transporting oil cargo became exposed to the risk of piracy.
“In Nigeria, organized crime has taken various forms, reflecting the country’s socio-economic challenges and political landscape.
A very close ally of General Buratai once told me that despite the fact that he is no longer the incumbent chief of Army Staff in Nigeria, He still keeps abreast of every security issue globally, especially African continent. In fact, he is considered an encyclopedia when it comes to security issues and is well-versed in both theoretical and practical affairs as it relates to safety and security. If you want to have a peep into some of his achievements as the COAS, read:
Buratai’s Achievements As Nigerian Army Chief of Staff
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