To render selfless and rewarding public service in Nigeria or elsewhere is not something akin to a simple nursery rhyme pupils recite in class sessions. It requires time and commitment; it needs energy, self-depravity, discipline, determination, inspiration and undiluted focus on goals and targets as well as vigorous pursuit of the targets.
An American retired four-star-general and statesman, Mr. Colin Luther Powell sums it as, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Indisputably, the life of a successful soldier is laborious woven around these ethos and very cumbersome.
This is very necessary for a professional soldier, especially top officers who have risen to the status of leaders, offering service that would deposit indelible marks of success on specified assignments. He needs the combination and efficiency of deployment of several or all of these attributes to earn success and etch a positive image in public service.
The narrative of success; crowns of victory, celebrations of valour in all special assignments Nigerians have come to associate with today’s Nigerian Army under the leadership of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai is signification of his effective utilization of these working virtues.
In all modesty, Gen. Buratai is an incurable workaholic and a goal getter. His optimism in determination, hard work and commitment as recipes for success is unyielding. He believes to make any impact; a man needs to stretch his energies and talents beyond the normal. All professions are difficult in a sense based on their peculiarities. But incontestably, soldiering stands out tallest as uniquely difficult, particularly for those who aim at success.
Some Nigerians may not appreciate the burden of workload and excess strain on the shoulders of the COAS, Gen. Buratai. He is presiding over the Nigerian Army and doubles as leader of the counter-insurgency war in Nigeria. This is an era most Nigerians historically refer to as the booming phase of terrorism and sundry violent crimes in the country.
So, a peep into a typical work week of Gen. Buratai would open the vistas for many more Nigerians to appreciate the practical efforts, commitment, zeal, strength and perseverance of Nigeria’s Army Chief.
A sampled week in the month of July for instance, showed the Army Chief engaged in multiple official duties daily; some of which involved shuttling from one location to the other. This was outside perusing and treating official files/memos and attending to other security emergencies.
But pleasantly surprising, in all instances and location the shadows of this Army boss has hovered, it is a tale of success. He equally and wonderfully spread his tentacles and strength in observing his core internal and external military duties as well as servicing civil/military relations.
Therefore at beginning of the week, Monday, July 10th 2017, at the Army Headquarters (AHQs) in Abuja, the COAS, Gen. Buratai received his Malian counterpart, Col-Major Abdurahmane Baby who was in Nigeria on a courtesy visit. They shared experiences and warmly interacted on military issues within the African continent.
Later the same day, Gen. Buratai played host to the Honourable Minister of Defence, Gen. Mansur Muhammed Dan-Ali (rtd) in performing the groundbreaking ceremony of the Foundation Laying ceremony of the Muhammadu Buhari Cantonment Giri, along Airport road, Abuja. This is another giant developmental stride in the making, in the history of the Nigerian Army under the watch of Gen. Buratai.
It was a hectic and time-consuming event as the ceremony also featured the commissioning of Infantry patrol vehicles and also, commissioned Officers and Soldiers Living Accommodation at 50 Space Command, at the same location in Giri, Airport road Abuja.
On July 12 , 2017, Lt Gen. Buratai upped the ante in the provision of utility services both to the Army and the observance of Army’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to host communities by leading an equally groundbreaking ceremony of the commissioning of the Abakpa Nike Barracks Urban Water Project.
The gigantic water plant has installed capacity to produce 1,000,000 litres of clean and portable water per day for the barracks and surrounding communities in Enugu, the capital of Enugu state. The youth corpers at the NYSC camp in Awgu Local Government Area will also quench their thirst with water from the water treatment plant.
The project was executed through direct labour by personnel of the Nigerian Army Engineering Unit of the 82 Division, Nigerian Army and assisted by members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
The colourful commissioning ceremony of the “82 Division Urban Water Treatment Plant”, was performed by Enugu state Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had several dignitaries in attendance.
The seriousness of the ceremony was attested by personalities at the event which included the GOC, 82 Division, Enugu, Major General Adamu Abubakar and other top military officers; Governors David Umahi (Ebonyi state); Willie Obiano, (Anambra state) represented by his deputy, Dr. Nkem Okeke and the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika as well as a businessman, Prince Arthur Eze and hordes of others.
In his speech at the event, Gen. Buratai invoked his sense of history as he reminded Enugu people of their strategic importance to the South East region based on the state’s political and historical antecedents.
And within the same week, on July 14, 2017, the Army Chief, Gen. Buratai paid a courtesy call on His Majesty King, (Dr), Dandeson Douglas Jaja JP, Jeki the 5th, Treaty King, Amanyanabo and Natural Ruler of Opobo Kingdom at his palace in Port Harcourt. King Jaja is also the chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers; Grand Patron Police Community Relations Committee, Chancellor, Federal University, Dutsi-ma Katsina State.
The essence of the visit by the Army boss was to curry support and co-operation of the traditional nay host communities towards the operationalization of the 6th Division, Nigerian Army, the newest in its fold, located in the area.
After his parley with King Jaja of Opobo Kingdom, Gen. Buratai proceeded to commission the Chief of Army Staff Guest House constructed by the Rivers State Government and donated to the Nigerian Army. He also unveiled Officers’ transit accommodation, the 6th Division’s Guest House and 4 blocks of 10 apartments for the Junior Non-commissioned Officers, in the Port Harcourt barracks, Rivers state.
The next day, July 15th , 2017 and still shuttling in South-South Nigeria, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Buratai Commissioned other development projects at Elele Barracks in continuation of activities marking the activation and proper take-off of 6th Division, Nigerian Army, Elele Barracks, Rivers State.
The projects personally commissioned by the Army boss included Army Government Secondary School, Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association (NAOWA) Vocational Centre, 1062 Brigade Workshop and Repair Bay, operational vehicles, as well as the new Squash Court.
That’s how a typical week for Gen. Buratai is choked; but he has never flinched. This is aside the intermittent visits to the counter-terrorism Command Theatre Center in Maiduguri, Borno state in the Northeast to interface with troops and practically assess periodic progress reports in the final phase of the counter-insurgency war.
Indeed, it requires a workaholic like Gen. Buratai and his team to execute excellent assignments, initiate and deliver development projects and service host communities through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). And in the last two years as COAS, Gen. Buratai has proven to be a soldier of a rare breed, thick in character, principle and performance.
It’s rare to find in today’s Nigeria, the diary of a public servant in his category, which is this enlivened and rich. It explains why he is globally acknowledged as the epitome of hard work and splendor.
Okanga writes from Agila, Benue State