The Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Yusuf Buratai says the Nigerian Army is the best troop in the world, adding that it gives him happiness to be its commander. “As for the troops, I am happy that I am commanding the best troop in the world.
They have done a great service to their country. We love them and they are our heroes. I salute their courage, determination and patriotism. I urge them to remain resolute in the face of the security challenges that we are facing as they are surmountable. I promised them a professionally responsive Nigerian Army and we have achieved that and we will continue to consolidate on that,” he told LEADERSHIP Sunday in an interview.
General Buratai disclosed that political leadership, provided by President Muhammadu Buhari and the professional leadership he as the Chief of Army Staff, COAS brought to bear in the military’s field strategy against the Boko Haram terrorists were accountable for the degradation of Boko Haram’s capability and their eventual rout from their Camp Zero base in the dreaded Sambisa Forest.
“We are tools in the hands of the democratic system, where we take our strategic directives on national interests, to carry out our constitutional roles and this has been made very clear from day one when Mr. President was being inaugurated.
“To underscore his commitment to ending the Boko Haram insurgency, he directed that the military command and control centre be moved to the North-east, so whatever followed, including storming of Camp Zero in Sambisa Forest was derived from the political direction and strategic position of the president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces,” Buratai said.
The Chief of Army Staff said the directive to relocate the command and control apparatus of the military to the North-east theatre of war was a demonstration of insightful leadership by the president, which he said dovetailed into a new professional leadership the military high command brought to the table.
“By and large, everything revolve around the leadership. The military leadership in this regards, having received the appropriate direction, from the commander-in-chief, we set out to implement that directive and we looked at it holistically in terms of what is the strategic disposition of North-east, strategic significance of the Boko Haram insurgents, what they stood for, their motivations, how has it been received and what is the disposition of the people in the North-east and what is the disposition of Nigerians generally, what is the disposition of international friends especially our neighbours. Having looked at all these, the first thing that needed to be done was to check the state of mind of the average soldier operating in the North-east and equally the state of mind of the officers and indeed soldiers in other parts of the country,” he disclosed.
He said the new strategic approach paid a good attention to the need to boost the ebbed morale of Nigerian soldiers in the direction of patriotism and professionalism, and recalled that this was necessary in order to reverse the string of losses Nigerian troops were suffering in the hands of Boko Haram insurgents, and to retake the lost territories to the rampant insurgents.
According to the COAS, “we undertook a visit to the theatre itself to see what is on ground, the state of mind, the morale of the men, what are their challenges, why were they behaving the way they behaved, what is missing. Our exploits in Liberia, Sierra-Leon and Sudan are all commendable. We met the morale of the troop so low, the desire for them to stand firm and defend themselves. The level of casualties that we have been receiving from the Boko Haram before this administration came on board, were extremely very high and these were very demoralizing. So we said we must change the trend and luckily, I visited few units and I saw the challenges.
“We had shortages of manpower, basic equipment and challenges of mobility. Also, there is haphazard deployment of the troops which were looked at. So we carried out brainstorming on how to look at the overall deployments, the gap that exists in the theatre. So having seen the morale aspect, we now looked at the deployment aspect.
We re-strategized and deployed appropriate troops to the appropriate location. We made some re-alignments and with that we are able to check the Boko Haram terrorists; we are able to block movements around the general areas of Alagarno up to the northern parts of Borno and those going to the south in Sambisa Forest. Having done that, we now moved to change the name of the operation itself from operation Zaman Lafiya to operation Lafiya Dole to indicate the level of seriousness and commitment with which we are going to handle that operation.
“After we launched the new operation, we commenced the clearing operation to regain the lost territory. The first directive I gave was to recover Dikwa. Dikwa is the second local government on the way to Gamborun-Ngala. Within two weeks from the date we launched the operation, we were able to enter Dikwa, captured it and consolidate the town and environs. After two months, we moved into capture Gamborun-Ngala. So having revived the morale of the troop, having addressed some of the challenges which included injection of more mobility, provision of new kitting and equipment, we set the ball rolling towards the eventual position that we are today.”