I may perhaps not be totally wrong if I should assume in this write-up that 2019 began on a promising and encouraging note for the Nigerian army.
This is particularly for the soldiers who are now stationed in Borno state and engaged in fighting the war against the menace of insurgency and terrorism especially the activities of the Boko Haram elements.
The same applies to other soldiers engaged in different army operations like in the Niger Delta, Zamfara, Benue, Taraba and Plateau States across the country where successes are now being recorded after some initial setbacks.
This is because this writer has noted with happiness the various successes so far recorded over the insurgents in the first few days of the New Year and even three or two days before the end of last year at Baga, Konduga and Mafa areas all situated in Borno state.
The soldiers had dislodged several attempts made by the insurgents to penetrate their camps on some occasions even though some casualties were recorded. During the operations by the loyal troops several deaths and injuries were recorded among the insurgents.
These successes were immediately followed by another major one recorded last week when the Chadian soldiers on the same mission with the Nigerian troops were reported to have killed not less than 200 of the insurgents at the Nigerian-Chadian border during a major military operation by the soldiers.
In fact, even before this success were recorded the Nigerian troops had within the past three weeks or so made gallant achievements to annihilate the insurgents to the admiration of millions of Nigerians despite some small setbacks which has served to encourage the Nigerian troops to achieve more successes in their assignments.
The troops have taken bolder steps more than ever before to win the war with renewed determination on the part of every one of us.
Therefore, for the soldiers as far as this writer is concerned apart from the above mentioned achievements the morale-boosting visits paid to them by President Muhammadu Buhari and the army leadership within the past two weeks were enough reasons for celebrations and cheerings among them as these actions have certainly boosted their morale which encouraged them to achieve more positive results.
It may perhaps be because of all these and other congent reasons that the current Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen T.Y. Buratai recently admonished the soldiers to redouble their efforts towards completing the war by crushing the remaining little bit of the activities of the dangerous criminals in the North-Eastern part of the country as well as other affected areas as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari during his recent surprise visit to the troops in Borno state some few days ago.
Buratai said there was no reason for the troops to give the terrorist any breathing space whatsoever in the whole area especially the so called ISWAP faction of the insurgents. The President had before during and even after his visit to the troops also held crucial discussions with the military leadership on security related issues.
In an address to the soldiers at a memorable event last week near Gashaka, Gen Buratai had dealt with three issues that affected the soldiers directly. Firstly, he had through Lt. Col. Sani Adamu told the soldiers that they should try their possible best to bring to an end the ongoing war against the insurgents as a way of justifying the funds being spent by government on security-related issues.
The soldiers, he said, should go forward to complete the war gallantly the way Nigerian soldiers are professionally known to be. This was after he had appreciated the efforts so far made by the troops at their various operational locations in the North-East.
The COAS had according to reports also reassured the troops about the commitment of the army leadership concerning the soldier’s welfare and other forms of motivation including the provision of more weapons for use by the gallant soldiers in different special operations like Operation Sharan Daji, Operation Lafia Dole, and Operation Python Dance etc.
The admonitions by Gen Buratai was just like what the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Abayomi Gabriel Olanisikan and even the defence minister, Gen Dan Ali and other prominent Nigerians had told the soldiers at different occasions within the past three months or so.
From all indications the troops certainly entered the New Year with confidence, high expectations and great determination concerning the war especially after President Buhari’s visit to them and the encouraging words of commendation they got from the Defence Minister and Gen Buratai himself. The excitement of the soldiers is therefore understandable.
This is because for a very long time now they never had the opportunity of seeing eye to eye or one on one like they did one week ago with prominent people like Mr President, Dan Ali, Olanisikan and Gen Buratai at a very close range even though as already known by people they might have been meeting with Gen Buratai who have been visiting them from time to time throughout the past three and half years especially after he had assumed duties as COAS in 2015 in order to fraternize with them as demanded by his office.
Both President Buhari and Gen Buratai had during their interactions with the troops told them that the Nigerian government was more than ever before committed to fighting the insurgency war and therefore, they should be rest assured that their welfare will be properly taken care of apart from the fact that more arms would be provided to them to complete the war.
Moreover, they told them that their own colleagues in the ECOWAS Zone were prepared to cooperate with them and that the government as well as the army leadership was proud of the achievements being recorded by the soldiers since the new administration came in as compared to what was on ground before now when the Boko Haram elements killed many people with several means of livelihood destroyed at the height of the insurgency.
The presence of Gen Buratai in the midst of the soldiers stationed at the war front had served as a morale booster to them, especially after they were told that the army leadership is seriously committed to ending this war. It would be recalled that the defence minister and other service chiefs had met on three occasions now within the past few weeks to strategize on the way forward as far as this war is concerned and thankfully they all came out each time with good ideas of what they want to do to enable this country achieve peace and unity.
Like our leaders have consistently said to those who care to listen that there is need for all Nigerians to come out in full force and openly show their support and encouragement towards the good work the soldiers have been doing to keep Nigeria safe. Therefore, this writer is of the view that the least expected from Nigerians is for them to support and encourage the soldiers who have laid their lives for the protection of the nation.
I wish to suggest that the soldiers should continue to do their best as admonished to them by their leaders and should not listen to any other person or group outside the hierarchy of their leaders. God will help them to win the war, Isha Allah.
Mbaya sent this from Abuja.