Ambassador TY Buratai and echoes of truth on insurgency
By Linus Ojoko
“ (Military) is not only the force that should be used, what about the non-kinetic approach? What about development? So many places don’t have roads, several places don’t have schools. There is low level of education, high illiteracy. These are what breed insecurity and criminality”- Gen. TY Buratai (rtd) in an interview with ThisDay and Arise TV in Maiduguri, February, 2020
Nigeria, like other countries of the world has been enmeshed in multi-dimensional terrorism for years. The nation has incurred unimaginable losses in precious human lives, destructions, waste of critical national resources on curbing insecurities and the overall instability it has birthed in the country. The pains, sorrows and agonies terrorists inflict on the people is another pain in the neck.
And in Nigeria’s efforts to contain the plague of terrorism, the country has adopted multiple measures, at different times, including anointing crack and seasoned Military Generals to lead the counter-insurgency operations. But the army officer who has demonstrated the clearest vision and discerns the matrix of insurgency deeply, is Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai (rtd). He is now Nigeria’s Ambassador to Benin Republic. He broke new grounds, set global records in battling terrorism and recorded countless success stories while he led counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria.
Even in his diplomatic assignment, His Excellency, Ambassador TY Buratai has continued to trumpet his convictions and perceptions on how best to tackle terrorism, which is now domiciled its tentacles in the West African sub-region, Africa and a nagging nightmare to the entire globe. While still in active Military service, Ambassador Buratai sermonized on the inadequacy of Nigeria’s over reliance on kinetic approaches to resolve the terrorism conflagrations.Some people maliciously classified him a prophet of doom. But reality and truth and unchangeable human phenomenon.
However, Buratai never relented in preaching the adoption of wholistic and collective efforts to tackle Boko Haram terrorism, armed banditry and its numerous variations or mutations. He canvassed for the use of the non-kinetic approaches in blighting terrorism fires in the country. Ultimately, Ambassador Buratai believes that terrorism will not just disappear from Nigeria simply because armed soldiers engage insurgents in brutally crippling combats in the war trenches or fighter jets drop missiles on terrorists camps, exterminating them in numbers.
But Gen. Buratai (rtd) keenly studied and grasped the sociological and psychological character of Boko Haram terrorists; their recruitment styles and baits in luring innocent Nigerian youths into the sect as footsoldiers. The youths easily subscribe to Boko Haram ideology because it assures them of ending an existential ennui.
Mainly, Buratai believes gross underdevelopment, awful deficits in infrastructures, near zero empowerment of Nigeria’s productive population, festers Boko Haram terrorism and also frustrates or impedes the needed Military actions to completely blight operations of the sect, especially in the Northeast region.
Ambassador Buratai has remained appalled at the level of underdevelopment of the Northeast region, the hotbed of Boko Haram terrorists campaigns. Its unbelievable, but some Local Government Areas in the Northeast are inaccessible by road. But they receive monthly allocations from the federation account.
A few days back, His Excellency, Ambassador Buratai again drummed the same message at Yola, Adamawa state, when he spoke as the Guest Lecturer at the of the 24th, 25th and 26th combined convocation lecture of Modibbo Adama University. He bemoaned loudly that the Northeast lacks development and it is incredibly fuelling insurgency and insecurities in the geopolitical region.
Ambassador Buratai pricked the conscience of leaders and the influential, as he declared; “ Any country that does not ensure the development of its people would have security challenges. We should not rely on the military option as the only way to resolve our security challenges. We must address the ideological, economic, social, and political factors. My recent diplomatic foray has further sharpened my views on the urgent need for military, as well as non-military solution to the lingering and needless conflict.”
Gen. Buratai (rtd) has lived with this mindset even while he was in active Military service and actually took profound steps, by using the platform of the Nigerian Army to berth desperately needed succour Thus, while he rendered patriotic service to his country, Gen. Buratai (rtd) manifested in policies and actions that embraced both the kinetic and non-kinetic measures to battle Boko Haram terrorism. He introduced the “stick and carrot” approach; and activated the Nigerian Army’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) component in host communities.
The CSR initiative, which was the first ever in the history of the Nigerian Army, funded from its meagre budget, impactfully bridged development gulfs in all Army host communities’ or anywhere soldiers conducted special Internal Security (IS) operations. It to the credit of the Nigerian Army and the excitement of Nigerians who are beneficiaries of the Army’s CSR projects in roads construction, bridges, water supply, health, agriculture, education , electricity and many others. The Army through the CSR platform, even reached communities which have never experienced the presence of government in the history of their existence.
By his recent outbursts and emphasis on the poor development base of the Northeast, Ambassador Buratai for the umpteenth time, has persuaded a synergic approach to this challenge. He has persuaded the commitment of government at all tiers, as well as the needed actions from political leaders, traditional rulers, religious leaders, individuals and all stakeholders to assist the Military in ending the terrorism conflict in the Northeast through development initiatives.
The singular dependence on the Military and weapons alone would only momentarily blight the fires of terrorism. The people must be lifted from their gross underdevelopment, poverty and penury to embolden them to abandon the allures of terrorism. Very often, Boko Haram recruiters brainwash the people into believing, the sect can offer a better alternative to existence, as they encounsed such preachments government’s visible neglect. Today again, leaders are tasked to change this narrative by consciously re-doubling fresh energies and resources to the issues of development in the region.
A consistent frank talker, Gen. Buratai (rtd) once told a select team of media executives at the Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) 2020, observed in Faskari, Katsina State that; “ But, overall, we must see criminality as a collective responsibility. It is a collective burden and it requires collective solutions. We are doing our own kinetic aspect and the civil authorities at the local level, at the state level need to do their own and of course, we must support the kinetic actions of the security agencies…,”
Truth is constant, but not easy to voice out by most people. But Ambassador Buratai has wittingly developed himself into a great human resource to Nigeria on counter-terrorism and knows where the problem of terrorism is nourished. So, he does not dread telling the truth he knows.
If only leaders can listen to him and apply his ideas, Nigeria would be finally extricated from the fangs of terrorism. As a nation, Nigerians must wake up to take his sermons very seriously. It is not too late to rejig the narrativd. He spoke and has always spewed the gospel truth, regardless of who hates or is angered by it. But only truth can set anyone free.
President Muhammadu Buhari and international donors deserve special commendation for their numerous efforts in the rebuilding and reconstruction of the Northeast in the post-insurgency era. But these efforts must be complemented by the natives, whether low or mighty. The burden is heavier on their necks than anyone else.
Truthfully, the Northeast has no reason to be confoundingly underdeveloped as known today. The Northeast is a region which is also home to many wealthy Nigerians. It is the ancestral place of some of Nigeria’s topmost millionaires and billionaires. They must partner and synergise to tackle the issue of underdevelopment to end the bait of easy recruitment of footsoldiers or support for Boko Haram terrorists.
Ojoko PhD wrote this article from
Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola.