By Moses Oche
This decade’s generation has had their diaries filled with details of their vivid share in the first-hand historical experience of insurgency happening in their lifetime. These verbose experiences may well be defined by the success or failure of the anti-terrorism efforts across our country. Since al-Qaeda first emerged in 1988 and subsequently carried out attacks on American soil in 2001, terrorism has maned the stage where its religious-oriented versions spread across the globe as a weapon. Rescuing the world from the mindless savagery that represents the hallmark of terrorism requires sincerity and focus. Every nation has been saddled with the quest of providing capable personnel that is devoid of bigotry, nepotism, and religious -fanatism to help handle the matters of insecurities at the A-Level.
However, It also requires that differences are set aside to deal with what is proving to be a long-term threat to the survival and continuity of the human race. The global menace of terrorism manifests in Nigeria as al-Wilāya al-Islāmiyya Gharb Afrīqiyyah (Islamic State West Africa Province, ISWAP), better known as Boko Haram. Other lesser-known groups nurse the ambition of growing to the level of notoriety attained by Boko Haram if permitted. With a subtle undertone of their religious perplexity in their mode of Operandi, any President that stands for justice would be cautious in choosing a leader that can combat such adversity.
The national awakening to the true evil nature of the many uprising by Boko Haram and banditry in recent years has fortunately been matched by a military committed to defending the country from terrorists. Having been a continuous fight, this development has seen genuine efforts to fight terrorism even amidst intractable problems that tend to make solutions futile, simply on account of the divisiveness that persists even in the face of the threat to the collective wellbeing of the Nation.
President Muhammadu Buhari last year made another ground-breaking decision by appointing Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya, a former General Officer Commanding 1 Division of the Nigerian Army and the then incumbent Theatre Commander of the Counter-Terrorism Counter Insurgency military outfit in the North East, codenamed Operation HADIN KAI as the new Chief of Army Staff, following the death of Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, the erstwhile Chief of Army Staff. Lieutenant General Yahaya was brought from the heart and the heat of insurgency from the far northeast part of the country.
However, being a proud holder of several honours and awards, some of which include Forces Service Star, Meritorious Service Star, Distinguished Service Star, Grand Service Star, Passed staff course (Dagger), National Defence College (Chile), Economic Community of West Africa State Monitoring Group Medal, Command Medal, Field Command Medal, General Operations Medal, Silver Jubilee Medal and Golden Jubilee Medal, through courage, selfless sacrifice and exemplary leadership, his actions before the appointment spoke so much volume that was audible to the deaf as an evidential capability, representing a pointer to the right person capable of handling the affairs of security in Nigeria as a nation. Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya has surpassed the mark of a mere hero and has launched himself into the nobility of greatness to be reckoned with worldwide. One wouldn’t wonder far for the answer to the mystery of why an Army under his watch has always remained as safe as Rome under the pope.
Over time, Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya has proven himself qualified with unique skills such as his vast wealth of experience as a war veteran, a peacekeeper, and an administrator with efficiency in maintaining order and stability in conflict-ridden areas around the country. This General respects every religion by showing no discrepancy in his judgements and decision-making. Apart from his gift of looking beyond religious fanaticism, he’s loved by all due to his large heart of giving and donations to the soldiers and citizens around without showing any tolerance to worldliness in his dealings.
Faruk is a man that works earnestly to implant his cheerful disposition in the Army. First, as a Human being and secondly, as a soldier, whose shadows should reflect in every Army personnel, so long as he remains the Army Chief. Those who have known Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya from his teenage age loudly attest to his open-minded and compassionate nature. They know the Army Chief as humane and passionate about the afflictions and plight of the less privileged. Anyone can easily touch his soft spot irreversibly when he extends assistance to the needy or come to the rescue of anyone in a consuming dilemma. He is kind to a fault, humble and amiable. He has grown up with these attributes in his chosen profession, the Army, and exhibits it everywhere he has served his country to reach the peak of his career as COAS.
Therefore, in redirecting and refocusing the Nigerian Army along these lines of greatness, Faruk Yahaya sought to smoothen ties of relationship between civilians and soldiers along with his humanism. His preachments to soldiers have always centred on their roles as servants, as against bossy masters to Nigerians. One can convincingly conclude that President Muhammadu Buhari made an impeccable decision on the choice of appointing Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya as the Chief of Army Staff. Everyone would applaud the President’s choice of picking a pious man to the core, one that is revealed as an epitome of truth, honesty, and incorruptible practices without blemish.
His contribution to the Nigerian Army has helped heighten the action of patriotism among officers and soldiers, whereby, anywhere one encounters Nigerian soldiers, either on the battlefield or by the roadside in the Northeast, they exude the passionate, courageous and irrevocable spirit of certainty in finally subjugating the evil tormenting Nigerians. Sometimes, even in video clips from the Northeast theatre of the war, released intermittently on social media, Nigerians sight soldiers jubilantly displaying acts of gallantry when they triumph over Boko Haram insurgents. More penetrating is seeing troops fighting and caring for the old and young, children and women who are most times rescued from the terrorists and even administering first aid treatments to rescued victims. It is representatively symbolic of general excitement and the humane reflection of troops on the frontlines to show rare kindness and love. It inspires and assures the troops’ anticipated continuous victory against Boko Haram at the cost of anything, including sacrificing their lives.
Today, Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya never stopped contributing and committing to the welfare of the Nigerian Army against different bigotry rumours and speculations before his appointment. This has encouraged the soldiers to look forward to that hour with eagerness anxiously; the day they would be feted with garlands as heroes and heroines of counter-terrorism globally. The meekness and affection of troops towards those they fight for can only be found in rare cases and amongst the Nigerian troops confronting the insurgents.
The report states that some citizens have been paid to be social activists to pull down the military institution, all in a bid to discredit them. This is therefore highly uncalled for and should have no place in our country. Little do we know about the effect of the strategies of these detractors because the reality is that the seeming interventions are unnecessary distractions that will reverse recent gains made in the war against insurgency. Each time such paid activists unjustifiably criticise the military, they, therefore, undermine the counter-insurgency efforts. In many instances, the damage goes beyond the now because Nigeria’s foreign partners have sometimes referenced the activities of such activists as justifications for withholding military cooperation to Nigeria or blocking crucial arms deals that would contribute to the anti-terror war efforts. Still, the COAS has remained unperturbed and not dismayed by the futile efforts being thrown at him by his detractors. He has always been keeping the wheel of the fight against insurgency moving and not permitting their distractions to move him in his line of duty. The hard-working Army Chief will not give the insurgents much operational laxity in Nigeria, especially in the Northeast, where they prided in false invincible power and strength.
This has remained a pain in their daunting efforts and reaffirmed their continued futility. These rotten eggs in human skins need to be separated and broken off from the good ones because they are significant cancer to the nation as a whole. When not weeded out, they become a menace that will bring ills, misfortune and setbacks to our dear country. It is worthy of note that those who deliberately manipulate facts to sabotage the military should be mindful that only a thin line separates what they see as harmless mischief and commission of crimes.
Looking at Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya’s recent refined and attuned moves to the positive virtues of humanity, one will conclude that the best offer that can help in fostering these great continuous works that have been set in motion is to jointly support his wave of positive changes all around the nation and more importantly in his fight against insurgency and banditry. This calls for support and unity in all arms of security in Nigeria.
For the sake of tranquillity in the Nation, detractors and their agents are advised to stay clear from the Chief of Army Staff so that he can give maximum concentration to his works. He has been tried and has proven himself beyond all doubts, an exceptional leader who is ever ready to provide an optimal discharge of his duty any time the clarion call to action is being heard. He will never compromise for terrorists to take over the country because he holds the country’s interests very dear to his heart. Indeed, General Faruk Yahaya is the soldier’s soldier whose actions speaks for themselves to the admiration of all well meaning Nigerians.
Oche is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja.