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Buratai’s Soothing Balm And The Courage To Fight On

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Tukur Yusuf Buratai

Tukur Yusuf Buratai

By Sunday Ochai

I am charmed by the courage, mien and resilience of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and leader of Nigeria’s counter-insurgency operations, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai. The burden of leadership is quite hefty.

Some Nigerians appear to be very angry at the b murder of some soldiers at Metele, in Guzamala LGA of Northern Borno state by Boko Haram terrorists. But we must also know, there is no commander of an Army which delights in losing his troops to enemy forces. It angers him to infinitum.

I painstakingly scanned commentaries and lamentations. I even weighed the number of troops killed and the rebellious voices of dissension. I inevitably discovered, there is every reason to sympathize with the bereaved families, fellow compatriots and my country, Nigeria. We share in the collective pains and agony.

However, what I painfully realized in the expressed angsts was more of a citizenry, which has lost all sense of patriotism, in the fury of anger and agonies. In mourning moods, we uncritically only looked at today and ignored yesterday and sacrificed the future. This too, is understandable.

In the gloom, we have lost our communality, sense of unity, understanding and the resilience over sorrow, we desperately need now to repress our common enemies.

We have always known, united we stand, but divided, it’s a definite fall before the shadows and swords of enemies. It means destruction awaits us. So, I rummaged my heart in attempts to engage my fellow countrymen and women on how best to placate ourselves amid the national tragedy. I am persuaded to prevail on ourselves to look at issues from different perspectives in times like this.

And luckily, I stumbled on the soothing words of the COAS, Gen. Buratai himself. He echoed an appeal to a bereaved nation in the aftermath of the Metele Boko Haram Terrorists attacks. I loved it and felt, it should be the starting point of my interface with Nigerians on this matter.

A moody COAS crooned; “ It’s bad enough to have casualties in both peace and war. It’s even very bad to have casualties in war, though inevitable. What is required is citizens’ understanding and support. Soldiers do not cause war.”

Continuing, Gen. Buratai said; “War is called politics by other means. The Soldier is an instrument of the State. A symbol of national power and sovereignty. Understand the profession of soldiering. The Soldier serves with all of his; the Soldier gives all of his.”

The Army Chief’s counsel was touchy and emotive for listeners’ on both sides of the divide- the nation and the people. I believe we can draw a lot of inspirations or lessons as a people and a nation from the guidance of the leader of the counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria.

I am quite sure, if Gen. Buratai were the fastidious leader, who are lurking everywhere in this clime, some of the comments on the Metele tragedy would have provoked his ire. And it would also have been understandable because Buratai and his troops have given their best in the past three years to decimate and defeat Boko Haram insurgents.

Much of the respite we enjoy now stems from this commitment. And to think that sometimes, Gen. Buratai laces his boots and hops into the trenches with his troops, only to be dressed down and scorned by the same people they have devoted their entire lives to serve is really disheartening.

But he remained calm and calculated, measuring the pains of the nation over his personal feelings of appreciation or harsh chastisements. He was sober, and never peeved by the obviously extreme reactions.

I am on the same page with Gen. Buratai absolutely. What the Nigerian troops and the military leadership battling insurgency in the country needs are understanding and support from the citizenry. It is consideration and encouragement.

But outright vilification is clearly out of the path, especially as downfalls are part of all human adventures; but resilience is the mark of valour or success. Togetherness, when hearts are broken is antidote to surmounting the most difficult of challenges.

Let me take you on a short experience, using the American example. I am sure most of us know American troops have been in the Middle East, particularly, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran since 2001, after the 9/11 terrorists attacks the World Trade Center and the Pentagon House. No number of human casualties in that single terror attack has ever been recorded anywhere in the world.

An enraged America moved to the domain of the terrorists since 2001 and has been fighting to exterminate terrorism roots in that part of the world. America has killed leader of Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, who masterminded the attacks. But Al Qaeda still smolders and has developed new sects in the region, including the Talibans.

America has lost tens of hundreds of troops battling terrorists under its successive Presidents. Also, America has spent $900 billion on the anti-terrorism combats in Afghanistan already.

Yet, American citizens or its parliament which approves the capital votes have never shirked in support to their troops. And it’s very clear to all of them that the anti-terrorism campaigns in the Middle East would not earn them victory anytime soon.

But Americans have never balked. I came across a detailed report appraising the American terror war in the Middle East and I was shocked at the revelations. The report published, September 4, 2018, by “The Nation,” an American online news portal and authored by Nick Turse is captioned, “Is the US Military Winning the War on Terror? Sure.”

Excerpts from this report serves the severity of the problem in these words;

“ America’s victory there came with lightning speed. The next year, President George W. Bush announced that the group had been “defeated.” In 2004, the commander-in-chief reported that the Taliban was “no longer in existence.” Yet, somehow, they were. By 2011, Gen. David Petraeus, then commander of US forces in Afghanistan, claimed that his troops had “reversed the momentum of the Taliban.” Two years later, then-commander Gen. Joseph Dunford spoke of “the inevitability of our success” there.”

But in June 2018, Americans again expressed their resolve to support their troops in Afghanistan through the parliament. The report says in part;

“In June, the 17th American nominated to take command of the war, Lt.Gen.Scott Miller, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee where Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) grilled him on what he would do differently in order to bring the conflict to a conclusion. “I cannot guarantee you a timeline or an end date,” was Miller’s confident reply. Did the senators then send him packing? Hardly. He was, in fact, easily confirmed and starts work this month.”

That’s the resoluteness of a nation and a people facing a common enemy. Meanwhile, the 2019 budget request to Congress for further funding of American operations in Afghanistan was estimated at $46.3 billion, which will surely get Congress approval.

The spirit of any American is neither dampened because huge resources are expended and the war on terror is not completely defeated nor America troops have died in the process. It comes about because of understanding. That is the message Gen. Buratai is preaching in his short exposition. And I think it is worthy of consideration.

Our country Nigeria shall be greater and triumph over enemies in the war on terror, if we eschew bitterness over unforeseeable incidents like the unfortunate attack on a Military base in Metele. If we lampoon our Army out of relevance or reckoning, are there really alternatives? Certainly no! We must encourage and support them to fight on, it a sacred obligation we must discharge.

Ochai, a security expert wrote from 26 Demola Seriki Street, Lagos.

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Opinion

War with The Church, As Obi Insulted Catholic Bishops

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…Says they Lack Political Relevance

The recent media war between the former governor of Anambra state, Mr Peter Obi and the most populated Christian faithfuls in Igbo land (Catholic Church) has left many totally Flabbergasted .

Chief Peter Obi who is a running mate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday the 20th of January, 2019 described the Catholic Bishops as a group of cabal in Igbo politics yet without voting capacity and relevance and urge the highly placed / top Religious mentors to seek for an additional system that will make them move from parasitic to symbiotic animals.

Chief Obi made the statement when he met with members of the Anglican laity councils of Nigeria(ANLCN) Anambra state chapter at his Onitsha GRA quarters .

We must also realize that few days ago, it was gathered that Obi called one of the most respectful catholic Bishop in Anambra state on phone around 2am and threatened him on why the Catholic church is against his aspiration and even went to a far extent to inform the Bishop that Catholic Church can’t stop him from winning the election but they will not benefit from his government if he wins.

Unfortunately for the aggrieved Obi who spoke to the clergy man with furious language, he never that his voice was recorded by the Bishop who further played the audio in the congregation of their meeting .

Since ever then, Obi have been working very hard to discredit the enormous spiritual, moral and value development created in the entire christiadom by the Bishops and members of the Catholic church.

One of the most recent and most unbearable was Obi ‘s attempt to refer the Bishops as a group of cabals without political relevance.

Just like Martin Luther King Jr would say ” Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere ” it therefore suggest that the attack on on Bishops by Obi is an attack on the generality of the Catholic church.

It was equally gathered that Obi was forced to declare war on the Catholic church because he was reliably inform that over 70 Bishops attended the Igbo conference where it was resolved that Igbos needs a presidency in 2023 not a vice president.

The above resolution from political perspectives didn’t favour Mr. Peter Obi’s vice presidential ambition and since ever then, Obi has declared war against the church.

Joseph Nwanolu wrote from Onitsha

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Opinion

2019: ORTOM MAKES MORE GAINS AHEAD OF MARCH 2

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By Nathaniel Ikyur

On the sidelines of the gubernatorial campaign rally in Gwer-West which held in Naka town, headquarters of the local council, on Saturday January 19, I met a couple of three Tyoshin men, two women and seven youngmen at a food joint. One of the woman runs the food joint. I had visited the place to fill up while the governor was meeting with the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, a short distance away.

The initial discourse, as I heard why enjoying my pounded yam and pork meat delicacy was about the Gwer-West Council chairman who was caught on camera kneeling down before a group of people. They were referred to as the PDP ‘stakeholders’ of the local government who were embarassed, as I learnt from the discussion, at the actions of the chairman for shouting APC at a PDP function where the wife of the governor, Erdoo Ortom was present.

There was a unanimous position among these discussants, except one lady, that the chairman of the council deserved what he got. The middle aged woman who runs the food joint told me when I enquired why there is so much bile against their local government chairman, as translated into English; that, “the chairman never helped himself by his conduct in office. He isolated himself. The youths were not awith him as others do.”

I was interested in their discussion but was more curious to find out about what took me to Naka. So i interjected in a friendly tone. I asked what their position is/will be in the forthcoming governorship elections. It was not hard for them to know where I stand since I was decked in an #Ortom2019 branded PDP shirt. Of course I knew why I asked this. Two of the governorship candidates in the fortcoming elections are of Ihyarev extraction. Barr Emmmanuel Jime of APC but particularly, Rev Frederick Ikyaan of the Peoples Redemption Party, PRP who hails from Gaambe U Shin Council Ward/Mbatswarev in Gwer-West. And like a well rehearsed choral group, they all chorosued: Ortom.

The woman who runs the food joint told me in unequivocal terms that “Tyoshin people have always been PDP. We don’t know what happened in 2015 but thank God General Ortom is back to his roots.” The other youngman who said he was from the same council Ward with Rev Ikyaan said, “it’s not that we don’t love our brother the Rev. We don’t want to waste our votes. Even if we vote him, he won’t win so we’ll go with what the Tiv people are doing” and added with a proverb: “see, we are holding down a mad dog. We won’t lose our grip from its neck until we kill it, else it will bite us and the poison from its bite will kill us. And the person we know can do this is Gov Ortom.” The mad dog in the proverb is the marauding herdsmen who have killed and maimed the Benue populace.

Remember also that Gwer-West had a bitter bite of the anger of the military last year where a section of Naka town was razed down by the soldiers over allegations that a soldier was killed by the villagers. The scars are too fresh for the people to forget in a hurry.

As the discussion got underway, some of my fellow discussants assured me that the crowd that will come for the rally will be in excess of what I may have seen before. Of course I didn’t doubt them because we experienced similar turn out in 2015. But I asked them if mere crowds at a campaign rally coul garner in the needed votes. They spoke with some air of confidence saying, it’s a testimony of the good things that would follow. That it’s the assurance of things to come.

And true to type, the campaign ground began to swell to its brim. By the time the governor arrived the venue at about 3:25 pm with Dr Ayu in tow, the entire field was filled to capacity. Leaders of the various sections of the local government spoke with one voice. Chief Godwin Ikyereve spoke on behalf of Raav. Hon Kenneth Iyo, Engr. Felix Atume among many others who also spoke at the rally confirmed what the young man at the food joint told me. That Gwer-West is PDP. Hon Iyo who is a former member of the Benue state House of Assembly expressed deep pains over the way and manner his immediate community situated along the river Benue have become a place where there were constant attacks by the herdsmen. In one agreement, they declared that the mistake in 2015 will not be repeated. Which is why they decided to maintain one direction in the forthcoming general elections by voting PDP. Indeed, they assured they will work to ensure that this is sustained.

Gwer-East and Guma local government where the governor hails from, had also witnessed the same sort of referendum on Gov Ortom’s re-election. The turn out at the Gbajimba rally was electrifying and massive. Gradually, the wind blowing across the state is been resolute and consistent. That Ortom who many have given him an unofficial title as the civilian general be voted again to round up a second term and lead the people of the state against the invading herdsmen. It has been a clear testimony. And apart from other sections of the state, MINDA leaders have all spoken and have given hope that they will swing their votes in favour of Ortom on March 2, 2019. In the four MINDA local governments of Guma with a total registered voters of 91,141, Gwer East 93,606, Gwer west 61,411 and Makurdi with an admixture of metropolitan nature, with a whooping figure of 272,158, it will be heartwarming to see how the enthusiasm on the faces of many will be turned into victory songs and dance inspite of the familiar challenges.

From the MINDA axis alone where the invasion is high next only to Logo local government in Sankera, governor Ortom and the PDP will sure garner more than 60 percent of total vote cast, leaving the other parties to scamper with the rest. Of course respected elder statesman Prof Shima Gyoh, a renowned medical doctor had once argued that the most important thing at the moment is to join hands with Governor Ortom to fight the invaders first. After that, we’ll sit down and ask questions about other sectors of our growth and development.

Jemgbah bloc also gave their referendum in favour of Ortom. Thousands thronged the PDP campaign rallies in the three Jemgbah local governments areas of Gboko, Buruku and Tarka. They were also unanimous that Ortom be returned for a second term. They are convinced that his doggedness to repel the herdsmen whose plan to invade and take over our ancestral lands is real should not be treated with kid gloves. Dr Iyorchia Ayu, former Senate President stated this much when he spoke at all the rallies. The three Jemgbagh local governments has a combined total voter registration of 402,548. Which makes them a hot bed as a deciding factor. (Gboko: 232,132; Tarka: 49,098 while Buruku has 121,318) Before this election, there wouldn’t have been any contest in Gboko, Buruku and Tarka against the status quo. That’s not there again. And the reason is simple: there’s a growing anger against the APC and its leaders for not only turning a blind eye while the state is almost over ran by the herdsmen with traceable complicity against some tribal groups like Miyetti Allah, MACBAN and other affiliate groups but also that some Tiv leaders have allegedly gone into alliance with foreigners and were accusing the Tiv of killing themselves.

The turn of events at all these rallies points to the fact that not only are the people resolved to stand behind Gov Ortom Ortom to fight the aggressors, he will also sing a victory song. His election will affect drastically, the outcome of most elections, altering the status quo. This will see the PDP winning more seats at the National and state legislative houses in Benue state.

And for those who dont know, another gain of Governor Ortom in the forthcoming elections is the expectancy of political blocs like Jerchira, Kwande in Tiv speaking area and the Benue South district who are aiming at taking over in 2023. These three blocs are all laying claim to the coveted seat in 2023. And so one last term for Ortom in 2019 is a sure bet for them at taking a shot at the 2023 governorship seat. Which is why they will return block votes for Ortom. Except those who may want to live in denial, the odds of the 2019 governorship elections in Benue state are more in favour of Ortom than any other perceived candidate. We may argue with every emotions in us, throwing up all manner of imaginary powers elsewhere to subvert the popular will of the people, at the end of the day, Ortom will coast home to victory, dusting the ambitious, pretenders and jokers.

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Opinion

Atiku’s withdrawal from the debate is a tactical masterstroke

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By Farooq Kperogi

I’ve read commentaries that aver that Atiku’s decision to bail out of Saturday’s presidential debate in protest against Buhari’s decision not to participate in it was a tactical error. I disagree. Here is why.

The presidential debate is designed to be a match–or, if you like, a push and pull– between the defending champion, i.e., Buhari, and contenders to the title he holds, i.e., Atiku, Moghalu, Madam Oby, Sowore, and others. If the defending champion declines to thrown his hat into the ring, the entire match becomes pointlessly self-injurious to the challengers. In other words, it would have been a fatal strategic and tactical error for Atiku to partake in a potentially bruising contest with other challengers while the defending championing sits pretty somewhere unhurt.

I’ve read other people suggest that Atiku, being Buhari’s closest challenger, should have used the opportunity of the debate to sell himself to Nigerians. Well, that’s what #NgTheCandidates town hall chat is there for. You don’t sell your agenda by making yourself vulnerable to potentially deathly blows from other challengers who don’t hold the title you are fighting for.

Instead of pillorying Atiku for not taking part in the debate, we should question the other candidates for agreeing to participate in a meaningless dueling match with each other when the defending champion who holds the crown they want to grab chose to run away. Their performance in the debate would only be meaningful if it’s measured against the performance of the defending champion.

From a tactical point of view, I also don’t blame Buhari for refusing to show up for the debate. His mental and physical infirmities are now on full display and would be exposed even more in the unscripted, back-and-forth format of a debate. The cabal that minds him already deeply regrets allowing him to take part in Thursday’s town-hall chat because his cringe-worthy performance at the event dramatized his dementia and aggrandized his unfitness for the job of president. His campaign trail mishaps aren’t helping, either. Another bruise from a debate would seal his fate before Election Day.

In a tragic irony, Buhari and Atiku are less qualified for the presidency than all the other contenders are, yet it is either of them that will emerge president in February. That’s why both candidates are more guarded and strategic in their choices than the rest.

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