If I had a chance in my youthful days, I would have enlisted into one arm of the Nigerian Armed Forces. But I was frustrated, as several attempts I made for admission into the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Kaduna were met with a brick wall. After the third failed attempt, I resigned to fate and gave up pursuing a career in the military.
By Israel Abiodun*
But to say, I have a passion for the military is grossly understating my feelings. I am very emotional about soldiering because its nature does not only blend with me, but perfectly communes with my adventurous nature.
The satisfaction that I am battling to protect someone else, known or unknown to me, drives me crazy. That I can stand to be counted among citizens of Nigeria who can sacrifice their lives to protect and defend the territorial integrity and sovereignty of my country confers on me an infinite feeling of fulfillment and heroism.
In addition, what keeps me glued to the military is also the sacredness any military personnel attach to “Orders”. No officer violates the sanctity of “order” and all eyes are set on the “last order”, which notifies of a detour from an action in progress and induces fresh compliance with the new direction. No officer would want to be caught napping for flouting an “Order”. Indeed, if other professionals had imbibed the discipline of unquestionable compliance with “order” religiously as done in the military, the world and Nigeria, in particular would have been a better and more cherished place.
And the effectiveness of orders in the Nigerian military has been brought to our attention once more, in the ongoing counter-insurgency campaigns in the country. When Boko Haram insurgency raged with consuming fire, especially in Nigeria’s Northeast, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed new Service Chiefs to energize the anti-terrorism campaigns.
The President, who doubles as the Commander-In-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, appointed the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai as leader of the counter-insurgency war and the new assignment came with an “order” that the military command and control centre in Abuja be relocated to the hotbed of terrorism in Maiduguri. It got instant compliance. And the President fleshed it by ordering the Nigerian military to defeat Boko Haram Terrorism (BHT) within record time.
That was the order from the Commander-In-Chief to Gen. Buratai. And he lived every day working assiduously to not just comply with this presidential order, but also to post positive results in accordance with the order. The Army boss led our troops to the trenches and the tale of Boko Haram insurgency began to twist in favour of victory for Nigeria. By December 2015, barely months after this order to Gen. Buratai, Nigerian troops decimated Boko Haram insurgents considerably reducing their capacity to commit reckless atrocities on Nigerians.
At the outset of 2016, Gen. Buratai had reclaimed nearly all Nigerian territories captured by insurgents and by the middle of the same year; Nigerian troops had completely overwhelmed terrorists. The stage was set for their final defeat and in December 2016, Gen. Buratai fully complied with the order to defeat Boko Haram insurgents, with the demystification and dismantling of the formerly dreaded Sambisa forest in Borno state, insurgents most protective enclave.
That is the seriousness the military attach to “orders”. And the stage of the counter-insurgency war now is at the level of total elimination of terrorism by tracking down fleeing remnants of Boko Haram and also, stopping their capacity to strike soft targets.
Therefore, days back, Gen. Buratai ordered the Commander, Theatre Command of Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri, Major Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru to capture the factional leader of Boko Haram sect, Abubakar Shekau “dead or alive,” within 40 days. It’s the first indication that Shekau is in trouble as Major Gen. Attahiru has just assumed duty to co-ordinate the counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria’s Northeast. And as accustomed to the military, it’s certain that the Theatre Commander would not play with this crucial order.
I assumed the COAS’s order was the final, until another overriding order was issued to Gen. Buratai by the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. The Acting President was clear that Shekau should not only be arrested, but the Nigerian Service Chiefs should relocate to Borno state and through concerted efforts, scale up actions to halt further terrorists attacks on soft targets. It means the two complementary orders are being tackled simultaneously.
And I believe since the military religiously comply with orders, they are also mindful not to go beyond the dictates of the orders. President Buhari ordered the defeat of Boko Haram terrorism and it came to pass. Perhaps, Boko Haram is yet to be totally eliminated because there was no order to this effect until now, which accounts for the flashes of suicide bomb attacks in parts of Borno.
What infinitely excites me is that all the necessary orders have been issued now on the final military destination with Boko Haram terrorism and of course, the last one emanating from the Acting President, Professor Osinbajo. I have no modicum of doubt about the hard times awaiting Boko Haram insurgents, as a military officer would prefer death than fail to execute an order to its conclusive end.
And relieving still, the order is backed by action and collective approach as exemplified by the relocation of Service Chiefs and Heads of other security agencies to Borno state. It appears to me, Boko Haram insurgents dread orders and the present crop of Service Chiefs who are in Maiduguri to serve humanity and save their country have never failed to fruitfully execute orders concerning the counter-insurgency war. I can safely assert that the die is now cast and terrorists have tougher times ahead. That is the essence of the “Last Order,” on Boko Haram by the Acting President, Professor Osinbajo.
Again, it also means the current tempo of the counter-insurgency war is no more business as usual and tailored to finally eliminate terrorism from our shores. Nigerians should be assured that Nigerian troops will chase Shekau and his remnants of foot soldiers into the darkest of holes, in compliance with this order.
I can happily sight the days of Boko Haram torment of Nigerians and our country gradually ebbing out and I feel, it’s better for terrorists to surrender than be caught up in the crossfire in the course of executing these “Orders”. Myself and indeed, countless Nigerians appreciate the sacrifices of these tactful Service Chiefs and the courageous Nigerian troops. We cannot wait to see Shekau and his minions boil in their own stew.
*Abiodun writes from Ibadan, Oyo State.