Implications of Lt. General Buratai’s “Terrorism will end when Nigerians are ready” Statement

By Segun Ogunlade
Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai
Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai

On Monday 20th July, 2020, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai made the following statement as regards insecurity in the country: “If we want it to end today, I can ensure you it will end today if everybody joins hands together because these bandits are not from outside Nigeria, they are not from foreign lands.

“So it’s not just a military, security agency’s task to end the insecurity in this country. It’s only when it goes bad that we are called in, but everyone has the responsibility to handle that. Some of the insecurities are old as history itself and it depends on what you are doing to contain it at a particular time.”

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the COAS would make a statement that would make us not only question his intelligence, but also his insensitivity. On June 18, 2019 he made the following statement regarding the soldiers fighting insurgency: “It is unfortunate, but the truth is that almost every setback the Nigerian Army has had in our operations in recent times can be traced to insufficient willingness to perform assigned tasks or simply insufficient commitment to a common national and military course by those at the frontlines.” He should have been fired as the COAS the moment he made such debilitating and demoralizing statement. But he is still in the President’s good book like other security chiefs in the country.

It is true that people that are concerned should constantly report cases of suspected insurrection to security agencies, saying expressly that combating insecurity is not the sole duty of security agencies is disappointing. How many COAS in the world make this type of statement soliciting the people’s support to do their job well when they should improve military intelligence? For anyone that is serious about his job, this type of statement coming from a COAS is unwarranted and it is a reckless thing to say at this moment that the current is in dire need of saving from terrorism and insurgency. As a matter of fact, the statement has serious implications apart from it being a personal disgraceful statement from the COAS and it means many things.

One, the greatest implication of that statement is that people die daily in their homes and farms because the entire populace is not ready for those killings to end. Since when has every Nigerian charged with fighting terrorism in Nigeria? Why do we need an army of soldiers and supply them with weapons when ultimately we are not ready for the insurgency to end? This is totally uncalled for.

If truly it is in the hands of the citizens to make insecurity go away, one could ask why we need a government. It is the duty of the people in government to protect the people they are charged to protect. What this type of statement means is that the government is irresponsible and that the security agencies are now looking for a way to whisk away their failures because the people are not as corporative as they expected. It is a hogwash defence, one that insults the intelligence of Nigerians.

Two, the many Nigerians that are not ready for the insurgency to end includes the President. Bearing in mind that the President is the Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s Armed Forces and Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, this is a serious indictment on the President. By now, one would have expected President Buhari to react by firing the COAS for making such a misguided statement. But for some reasons, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai is still in office and would continue to be until the Muses convinced the President that the COAS has overstayed his welcome in that office.

Well, it is obvious this Buhari-led APC government has failed in the area of security. Since the advent of democratic governance in Nigeria, never has the country being besieged with this myriad of security issues. Boko Haram has proven to not be ‘technically defeated’ or ‘decimated’. Banditry attack is on the rise in Northern Nigeria and the home state of the President, Katsina seems to now be the headquarters of bandits in Nigeria. The only state that appears to be free from banditry attacks in north-western Nigeria is Kano. Kaduna and Katsina has been the worst hit. Gunmen that are suspected to be of Fulani extraction are also killing people in farms and villages across the country. All these violence is enough to make President Buhari concede his failure as the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces and not just simply doling out condolences to victims of these attacks. But would President Buhari resign because the Federal Government has failed to deliver in terms of security? Your guess is as good as mine.

Three, the statement is also a personal indictment on the COAS himself. After all, he is also a Nigerian. The question now should be whether Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai as a Nigerian is not also ready to see the killing of innocent citizens in Kaduna, Zamfara, Benue, Borno, Katsina and other places end. Well, obviously, he isn’t and that’s why the insurgents are overpowering men of the Nigerian Army and insecurity is growing.

Everywhere, soldiers are expected to be disciplined. That discipline include being so chaste in words and in deeds. But this statement doesn’t show the COAS as someone who is chaste in words. With the failing security in the country, one could even question his chastity in deeds. It is obvious the Nigerian Army lacks proper intelligence and needs a fresh brain to handle its affairs.

If the COAS is tired of handling security issues in the country, he should just say it because that’s what it seems like. Like every Nigerian, he has the right to retire and walk away whenever perceives he doesn’t have the type of co-operation he needs to function well in office. After all, he has two mansions in Dubai that he could always go to.

We have enough of this type of statement beseeching us to help people do what they are paid to do. Even though the people are encouraged not to cover up any act that could lead to violence, failure of the security agencies in their duty should not be hinged on the fact that people are not giving them information. We are tired of hearing this type of statement from the COAS.

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