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Charming posture of Nigerian Army under Buratai



Chief of Army Staff COAS Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai

Chief of Army Staff COAS Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai

By Nkechi Odoma

A few Nigerians imputed extraneous meanings into what many perceived as the “combative” interface between the Nigerian Army and Daily Trust newspaper, a publications outfit based in Abuja. While many Nigerians were fast to take side with the Army without dissecting the issues due to its patriotism, a few persons still unjustifiably bandied all manner of derogative labels on the Nigerian Army.

The Daily Trust edition of Sunday, January 6, 2019 published a story with the caption; “Military prepares massive operation to retake Baga, others.” The publication incurred the wrath of the Nigerian Army which is battling the resurgence of insurgency in the Northeast. The report divulged details of a military operation meant to flush out terrorists who have occupied Baga, and other communities in Northern Borno state.

The Nigerian Army had accused the medium of publishing classified military information, which postured the newspaper as an agent or sympathizer of terrorists against Nigeria. These were grave allegations no doubt. Obviously acting based on the spur of anger, propelled by the frustration it caused, soldiers lay a peaceful siege on the Abuja headquarters and Maiduguri offices of Daily Trust.

The action triggered mixed reactions from Nigerians. Many blamed the newspapers editors for insensitivity and overstretching the limits of freedom of the press and speech by the publication, which served insurgents unsolicited information on planned military operations.

However, a few Nigerians only saw the Nigerian Army as the aggressor in this circumstance; but refused to discern Daily Trust as an offender for the simple reason that the siege was anti-democratic.

Again, a few others delved into personality attacks on the person of the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and leader of the counter-insurgency operations, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai. And the partisan times fired and smouldered the criticisms.

Opposition politicians feasted on it like maggots on rotten meat. The substance and rationality were lost completely in the haze and in its place; name-calling, sentiments and malice resonated very loudly.

Some persons commonly referred to as “bad belle people,” in Nigerian pidgin parlance, even trumpeted a strained relationship between the Army and the Nigerian media. It was completely a misplaced predisposition on the Nigerian Army under Gen. Buratai whose watch has seen the Army transformed into the darling of many citizens.

Once in a while, where human beings interact from opposing positions, there comes a moment of strained relationship. But it does not last forever, like even in the case between the Army and the newspaper. Daily Trust will not be the first to drag the Army into such frustrations and altercations. But it has always been resolved amicably.

Gen. Buratai’s antecedents as a soldier and most especially, his leadership of the Nigerian Amy holds civilians in highest esteem. He has also re-orientated Army personnel to respect the dignity and human rights of Nigerians anywhere they are offering service to the nation. . He understands perfectly that a soldier or the Army’s basic responsibility is to protect the civil populace. And he exemplifies it consistently.

And it has not come as happenstance, but a factor of conscious reforms and innovations that Gen Buratai has imposed on the Army. Today, the Nigerian Army on internal special assignments to contain insurrections do not stealthily invade communities at nights like thieves. In the past, it was the tradition and such scenarios’ created panic and fear, leading to psychic destabilization and dislocation in communities.

Today the narrative is positively different. Military/ Civil relations is at its very best. Before any community is assailed by soldiers, the information goes out in the media to herald their presence and awareness.

Thereafter, Gen. Buratai or his representative will personally pay courtesy calls on traditional, political and religious leaders of the communities where the operations are intended. They are briefed sufficiently on the mission and their approvals voluntarily given to the Army.

Thereafter, deployed troops will mingle freely with community members who are usually bolstered by this gesture to assist the Army with information to anchor rewarding operations. A cord of fraternity is struck.

The existing harmonious working relationship between the Army and the civil population has been rewarding to the latter in multiple ways. Today, communities which had no dream of enjoying basic necessities like water, electricity, mini-bridges and roads have benefitted from the Nigerian Army’s benevolence from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The Army offers free medical services everywhere they are redeployed on special assignments.

Gen. Buratai’s courtship of the civil populace is endless. His human rights reforms in the Army are legendary and far-reaching. It climaxed into the establishment of the Human Rights Desk to oversee incidents of rights abuses by Army personnel in Nigeria.

It is the Army’s Chief’s desire marched with efforts to standardize operations of the Nigeria Army that led to his rebranding reforms to give Nigerians a respectful and professionally responsible Army as an institution. Today, the Army has earned the enviable reputation of a military institution competent enough to defend the nation against external aggressions and insurrections.

It is evident in the records they have flaunted in public domain on Boko Harm counter-insurgency operations. And no matter what anybody or institution feels, the Nigerian Army must be supported to finally win the war against terrorism in Nigeria. And the with the emergence of cyberspace terrorism, Nigerian media has a vital and critical role to play in complementing the efforts of Nigerian troops at the battlefront.

That’s why Gen. Buratai operates an open-door with the media. Foreign media cannot tell the Nigerian story better than indigenous media. So, the Nigerian Army leadership has ensured the Nigerian media savours a seamless working relationship with the Nigerian Army under Buratai.

And it reflects in the celebration of the COAS as one of the most friendly media personality in the country. No Nigerian COAS in recent history has been visible in the media like Gen. Buratai because the DAPR has thrown its doors open to the media for information ceaselessly to keep Nigerians informed about its counter-terrorism operations.

But resorting to an abuse of such privileges’ by divulging classified information about movement of troops as done by Daily Trust is absurd. The mindlessness is painful because the newspaper knows Nigerians have had to bear the agony of terrorists ambush on Nigerian troops in the Northeast because of leakage of such vital information to insurgents.

This should invoke deep reflection in the covert actors, who are acting against the interest of national security. Any Nigerian or institution which aids and encourage terrorists is an enemy of the nation.

It is in this regard that the action of Daily Trust through the publication is deemed repulsive and reprehensible. To say, the contents of the publication thwarted the planned onslaught on insurgents in Baga and other surrounding localities like Doron-Baga, Kross Kawwa, Bunduran, Kekeno and Kukawa is to put it mildly.

It has also disfigured significantly the military operations in the region and emboldened the terrorists against the Nigerian nation. Painting lurid details of the operations and portraying the military as subdued by insurgents is unpatriotic and unpardonable.

No doubt, the Daily Trust publication has the tendency to hamper and momentarily halt the operations in these Northern towns of Borno under Boko Haram captivity. This newspaper has to toe the line of decency by apologizing to the military for leaking that strategic information about its operations. It’s a grave and sabotaging mistake.

In spite of everything, Gen. Buratai and his troops should not be incensed by the medium’s misconduct any further. Let them put the interest of the nation foremost by re-strategizing for another operation. Gen. Buratai should keep the spirit flying higher and dust off the temporary setback. This is imperative because to err is human and to forgive divine. So, there is every need for forgiveness.

The generality of Nigerians and every critical stakeholder must appreciate that Gen. Buratai and troops are in the Northeast for the common good of the country. There is need for synergy. Gen. Buratai’s presence in the warzone alone has thwarted the plans of the insurgents to wreak more havoc on Nigerians.

The sacrifice of the Army is on the heels of the painful moment many are beginning to think that the insurgents are back. But Gen. Buratai is standing up against insurgents for all Nigerians. Nigerians are indebted him and the troops and they must execute sacred responsibility of encouragement as against frustrations.

Odoma wrote from Asokoro, Abuja.

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War with The Church, As Obi Insulted Catholic Bishops



…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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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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Atiku’s withdrawal from the debate is a tactical masterstroke



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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