By Kolawole Abe
“A good name is better than bags of gold.” Miguel de Cervantes
I choose to start this article with the quote by Miguel de Cervantes, a Spanish writer widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and one of the world’s pre-eminent novelists, because my excitement knew no bounds when I learned of the nomination of the former chief of army staff, and Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Benin Republic by TheNigerian News as African Icon of Patriotism. Initially, I struggled with the classification of the award, thinking that he ought to have been African of the Century or something of that nature.
I won’t mince words on Ambassador Tukur Buratai. He remains an exceptional Nigerian whose service record speaks volumes of an unalloyed commitment to the Nigerian dream and an equally astonishing level of patriotism to those ideals that define us as a people and country.
In my opinion, TheNigerian News through this award to Ambassador Tukur Buratai has once again reminded us of the lofty exploits of Ambassador Tukur Buratai while he held sway as the chief of army staff. I call those days the impeccable days in the annals of the Nigerian Army in terms of strategy and tactics; Ambassador Tukur Buratai indeed came to the party.
What most people seem to have forgotten so soon was the precarious situation we were in before the coming of the Muhammadu Buhari administration regarding the level of insecurity in the country, and especially the threats posed by the Boko Haram insurgents in North-East Nigeria. It was indeed a desperate situation for Nigeria that required desperate measures to deal with.
And as God would have it, President Muhammadu Buhari delivered to Nigerians one of the best gifts in the appointment of Tukur Buratai as chief of army staff. This was a decision that indeed changed the narrative in the prosecution of the Boko Haram insurgency in North-East Nigeria and the activities of other militant groups in the country.
I dare say Ambassador Tukur Buratai; while he held sway, dramatized military might, yet, adhering to the rules of engagement in warfare. As a fact, one of the strong points of Ambassador Tukur Buratai was the effective handling of relationships amongst sister security agencies. This information might not have graced newspaper headlines, but it was evident through the various military operations carried out by the Nigerian Army. And he never seized to commend the efforts and cooperation he received from sister agencies whenever gains were recorded, especially in the prosecution of the war against insurgency.
The way and manner he was able to turn around the fortunes of the Nigerian Army were also outstanding and in record time. From a lethargic situation to a combatant position in less than a year, the result was felt across the country with regards to addressing the security situation in the country. That was the vintage Tukur Buratai.
Again, Ambassador Tukur Buratai was able to contribute his quota in service to the country because the President and Commander-in-Chief recognized his capacity to deliver in that critical assignment and eventually provided the enabling environment for him to flourish.
Today, most of us are not surprised that President Muhammadu Buhari rewarded the exceptional record of Tukur Buratai with an ambassadorial posting, which in my opinion, is to ensure that he continues to render selfless service to the country. And this much he has lived up to in his new posting.
Therefore the nomination by TheNigerian News is a testament to the famous saying that a good name is better than riches. And that aptly captures the personality of Ambassador Tukur Buratai, who, in my opinion, is well-deserving of the African Icon of Patriotism award. Let us not also forget that this award adds to the array of others that have come his way in his service years.
For Ambassador Tukur Buratai, the award is well deserved. It should spur others to realize that a good name is better than all the riches in this world, and there is always a reward for hard work and excellence. This award is coming at no better time than now, where Nigeria needs patriotic individuals willing to sacrifice their comfort in service to the country.
I commend the management of TheNigerian News for their steadfastness in celebrating those Nigerians that have been outstanding in public service. I would assume that the overarching strategy is to recognize, appreciate and encourage other Nigerians in public service to render selfless service to the country in our quest for the Nigeria of our dreams.
For Ambassador Tukur Buratai, the African Icon of Patriotism award is indeed a big one, and he must realize that uneasy lays the head that wears the crown. This is both a commendation for selfless service and a charge to continue to do more. I say a big congratulation for it’s an award well merited. And it is hoped that the legacies would outlive him and encourage others to put the country first wherever they find themselves.
Kolawole is former Spokesman, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) writing from Akure.