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Ambassador TY Buratai: A Testament to Patriotism – By Oche Oche

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A story is told of Oedipus the King, a play written by Sophocles, a great Greek writer. Oracle of Apollos prophesied that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother, and so it came to be that Oedipus actually killed a man he met in the wilderness, but the same man happened to be his father, the king, and went on to marry the King’s wife (his mother, Jocasta).

The summary of the story is that, Oedipus became king by solving a riddle, which helped to save the land of Thebes from all kinds of plagues affecting the land. The new king gave the order that whoever that killed the king shall go on exile. At the end however, Oedipus was exiled from Thebes, because the man he once killed in the wilderness was the king. As he went on exile, the commoners watched in disbelief, and the commentary went that, “Behold the sons and daughters of Thebes. This was Oedipus, greatest of men; he held the key to the deepest mysteries; was envied by all his fellow men for his great prosperity. Behold, what a full tide of misfortune swept over his head.”

This lay credence to the words of Professor Patrick Lumumba that, “none can be called successful until the day that he or she dies and carries his or her success to the grave in peace.”
Who would have believed that such a doom would befall King Oedipus? Nevertheless, he ended up becoming a stranger among those whom he presided as a King, and whom he loved, cherished and adored.

Today, the searchlight is on the life and times of Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, who having served as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) for over five (5) years under President Buhari, may have recorded remarkable successes and made startling innovations in military tactics for national security. But like in the case of Oedipus, to say that he is successful is to be arrogant and misguided, because the rule is that one must die and carry his success together with him into the grave, to be considered a successful man.

While one may avoid any discussion on the success of Lt Gen TY Buratai, the fact remains that his life as COAS became a beacon of hope and practical demonstration of patriotism, loyalty and defender of the supreme document, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Many a times, patriotism is understood in a narrow sense to mean one’s loyalty and service to the fatherland, especially involving those serving in the army, risking their lives and defending their fatherland. More than that, patriotism also includes civilians who serve with honesty and commitment to the ideals of the land.

This is not borne out of some frenzied outbursts of emotions, but as Adlai Stevenson puts it, “patriotism involves the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. It consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that the country shall be righteous as well as strong.”

Since patriotism entails a lifetime struggle for a righteous, formidable, strong and prosperous nation, needless to doubt the patriotism and constitutional loyalty of Gen TY Buratai (rtd) as COAS for over five years. Ever since he was commissioned into the infantry Corps of the Nigerian Army in 1983, he served in different administrative and operational units, moving through the ranks as Lieutenant (January 1985); Captain (January 1989); Major (January 1994); Brigadier General (January 2009); Major General (January 2012); and Lieutenant General (August 2015). He won several awards, including Forces Service Star (FSS), Meritorious Service Star (MSS), Field Command Medal, and others.

Lieutenant-General TY Buratai’s patriotism and loyalty was recognized when on July 13, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as Chief of Army Staff, which made him the highest military officer of the Nigerian Army, with the statutory responsibility to formulate and execute policies towards the highest attainment of national security and operational competence of the force.

As a patriotic Nigerian and COAS, TY Buratai demonstrated loyalty and kept faith with the relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 217 (2) states that the federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of defending Nigeria from external aggression, maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea or air.

In the past beginning with first military intervention in Nigeria on January 15, 1966, it was fashionable to hear and witness coups and counter coups, with reasons such as corruption, abuse of power, nepotism and insecurity. Military interventions became so frequent that Afro-pessimists would say that, “coups were as frequent as breakfast.” Even the recent events of military interventions in Zimbabwe, Mali and the Sudan, were enough to sway the COAS to grab power because of man’s insatiable quest for power after power. For TY Buratai however, the constitution as a grand norm that embodies the laws of the land is sacrosanct.

There is no gain saying that Nigeria was bleeding on all fronts, providing a fertile ground for conspiracy leading ultimately to military intervention to save the ugly trend. The economy was and still structured in favour of few privileged individuals who live in affluence to the detriment of the majority of the people who live in misery and excruciating poverty, laying credence to Roberto Michel’s “Iron Law of Oligarchy,” that played out to ensure a gulf gap between the rich and the poor in Nigeria. It is amazing that the institutions of higher learning in Nigeria, with their research centres in a state of moribund, and hardly provides findings that would address the myriad challenges affecting life across the spectrum. These institutions produce medical doctors, but whenever we are sick, especially those from the political class, embark on medical tourism in foreign countries because in Nigeria, people die of even avoidable disease. Life has lost its value in the country.

Poverty is worn like breastplate in Nigeria, and this inhibits the people from exercising their volition on issues affecting their lives as daily as they live. Nigeria became the official world headquarters of poverty in 2019 based on a report from the World Poverty Clock. The same report predicts that, by the year 2030, more Nigerians would join the league of extremely poor people, making the country a home to the world poorest people.

Nigeria, the most populace nation amongst the black race has been embroiled in brutal campaigns occasioned by Boko-Haram insurgents, and accentuated by the religious extremism of the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP). Banditry, kidnapping, and armed-robbery attacks have taken the centre stage. Climate change too, has threatened Nigeria’s food security with the consequence of increased forced migration, and rising tensions that trigger conflict, including presently herdsmen attacks nationwide.

For TY Buratai, an enduring solution to the above socioeconomic and political debacles could not be found in the desecration of Nigeria’s democracy, but through dialogue, collaboration and synergy of arms of government, tiers of government and other critical stakeholders. His stock in trade was not taking to ‘blame-game,’ casting aspersions on other institutions for poor budgetary allocation, corruption, complicity, conspiracies of some stakeholders and the likes. The task before TY Buratai as a patriot was the decimation of Boko-Haram terrorists and other elements of insecurity in Nigeria. On December 22, he led his men to the war front where they successfully took over Sambisa Forest, a ground zero for the terrorist group in Nigeria.

As a demonstration of practical patriotism, the COAS recognized the constitutional provision in 217 (2)(c) which empowers the military to act in aid of civil power. This is why he collaborated with the Civilian Joint Task Force, civil society organizations, traditional rulers and religious bodies in the fight against insecurity and terrorism in Nigeria. This disposition earned him the award of Millennium Hero conferred on him by a coalition of over 80 civil society organizations.

For TY Buratai, it must be recognized that the constitution is a supreme document that embodies the laws of the land—laws which must be respected—to midwife the enjoyment of the rights of the people and to deliver for the public good. As demonstrated in the scriptures ((Number 16:21) in the case of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, who rebelled against the laws of Moses, were consumed along with others, prompting Moses’ declaration that, “there is no freedom outside of the law, and those who do not live by the law, shall die by the law.”
For democracy-loving and public-spirited individuals, this is the story of a patriot, Lieutenant General TY Buratai (rtd) who once served as Chief of Army Staff for over five years under the President Buhari-led administration in Nigeria. Let it be known that TY Buratai was once here, and this is the legacy for which he would be remembered.

Oche wrote this piece from Enugu, Enugu State.

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TY Buratai: A Lesson In Resilience – By Samson Aboh

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By my estimation, patience is not merely one of life’s fusillade of virtues. It means much more than such simplistic conclusions to me. And maturing with each passing day, I devout considerable time to gauge the actions and postures of others before sketching conclusions or pinning down judgements from informed perspectives. Therefore, patience is an enabler of so many things to me as a person, like it does for some other deep philosophical thinkers.

I am one person who restrains comments on anything until the end is seen. I am never in a hurry because time illuminates more profoundly, the mysteries of life than the undependable euphoria or gains of ephemeral quick-actions, largely susceptible to errors in verdict.

Days have gradually rolled into weeks now. So, its good time to reflect on the erstwhile Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and foreman of Nigeria’s anti-insurgency operations, retired Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, whom I fondly relish his acronym of TYB. He gloriously bowed out of active service of the Nigerian Military and specifically, the Nigerian Army in 2021.

I can boldly assert that TYB ended his years of active service to his fatherland at Nigeria’s most tormenting time of consuming national insecurity threats. But I believe, together with his able lieutenants, TYB gave his heart and soul to this national assignment until the last day he bowed out gracefully.

Whilst he served us, there were differing perspectives from a wide spectrum of Nigerians or even foreigners on their perception of his contribution to the global anti-terrorism wars. Some outrightly dismissed and belittled his efforts; others extolled and commended him glowingly.

But also observed to date, a clan of others who were simply apathetic, aloof or neutral to whatever transpired in the warfront when TYB supervised the counter-terrorism operations. They never burdened themselves with the horrors, perfections or imperfections in the frontlines. I see it as normal.

But I belong to a different league of Nigerians on this score. That is, those who preferred to see the end of TYB’s actions to the last blast of the whistle to better be armed and positioned to deduce valuable interpretations or postulate informed public commentary.

Therefore, I deliberately refused to comment on the stewardship of TYB when the stakes were high and the field actions still very explosive against Nigeria’s enemy forces in the battlefield. My preferred time and hour have come. It is now safe to discuss him without any fear of contradictions.

In 2015, I was fascinated by the unusual chants of accolades and cheers, which welcomed TYB as Nigeria’s fresh warlord against the obstinate and resilient Boko Haram insurgents and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists in the Northeast region. TYB, an infantry combatant was relatively unpopular among Nigerians at the time of his appointment as COAS.

He had spent the best part of his military career in the trenches, fighting wars within Nigeria or in the assignments of UN Peace Keeping Missions in Angola and elsewhere. In the later years, TYB buried himself in the creeks of Niger Delta fighting incendiary militants, vandals, and economic saboteurs bred by the region in order to exculpate Nigeria from their foothold.

He was the Field Commander of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), the multi-nation military outfit conceptualized by Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroun and later on, Benin republic to battle terrorism in the sub-region. In all these assignments, TYB bagged medals and awards for his exemplary and excellent performances. It also earned him accelerated promotions in recognition of his exceptional military exploits and results.

I am aware, it was from the MNJTF assignment that TYB earned another promotion to the rank of Lieutenant General and President Muhammadu Buhari deemed him fit to head the Nigerian Army as the numero uno soldier and chief armour bearer of the country’s war against terrorism. This was when I started to silently monitor his leadership of both the Nigerian Army and the counter-insurgency operations.

Boko Haram terrorism was a nagging national nightmare to us at the time TYB was mandated to take charge of the war. The irrational, bizarre and bloodthirsty jihadists absolutely enslaved and caged Nigeria by its confounding atrocities. We moaned and grieved endlessly. The might and hold of the terrorists group on Nigeria was choking, something, I decoded as a breathless hold on the country, a metaphor akin to the fabled tale of the Afro-American, George Floyd.

The dire situation of the country’s security at that time created excitement in the Boko Haram insurgents’ ranks and their foreign sponsors in the Middle East were also elated. Boko Haram’s internal agents and sympathizers in Nigeria also jubilantly and publicly scoffed at Nigerians. We were at the cusp of surrendering the sovereignty of Nigeria to terrorists.

The overwhelming insecurity challenges in Nigeria were complicated by a weak, docile and unwilling Army which flinched at the battlefront in the face of enemy forces. TYB’s predecessor, Gen. Ihejirika confessed this much on the day of his formal handover to Gen. Buratai (rtd).

Meanwhile, we became a bleeding country; a nation which demonstrated by the actions of its Army that it was incompetent to battle Boko Haram insurgents and the other variegated sects of terrorism feasting on Nigeria. In truth, we shamefully genuflected before terrorists unapologetically.

We endlessly screamed in blood, pains, and sorrows each time terrorists struck us. No part of Northern Nigeria was safe either for habitation or conduct of legitimate business. Nigerians dreaded traversing the North on journeys, as the phobia of terrorists engulfed the land.

Our most agonizing moments was when they turned Abuja, the nation’s capital into a chamber of serial deaths. Scared Nigerians who took refuge in Abuja eventually discovered, the notion of security in the Federal capital was merely an illusion. Frequent bombings of public buildings, security formations, the UN office, motor parks, shopping malls, and churches in the suburbs of Abuja clearly defined our most terrorizing and agonizing existential times as a nation.

We whined uncontrollably and overtly. We were helpless, ostensibly, waiting for another sound of bomb explosion, the resultant casualties and destructions to kick another round of wailing. The jihadi campaigners terribly compromised national security.

In the Northeast region where Boko Haram controlled the five states of Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Bauchi and Gombe, it was hell for Nigerians. No fewer than 21 LGAs were coercively seized and occupied by the terrorists in their quest for territorial expansion. The jihadists established their main Caliphate administrative center in Gwoza and other areas served as its subsidiaries. Emirs and other community leaders were either deposed or killed by the insurgents, who anointed their own leaders as replacements in the places they captured.

And over 20, 000 Nigerian hostages, including the Chibok schoolgirls were scattered in different locations of Boko Haram secret camps. I boldly admit now that the Northeast region was substantially closed to public or social life for dread of the atrocities of Boko Haram insurgents. We experienced insurgents gruesomely murder hundreds of Nigerians virtually every week in different locations.

Elsewhere in the Northwest, armed bandits, cattle rustlers and other armed criminal gangs unleashed a reign of terror on Nigerians and reigned like untouchable demigods. Whole villages were sacked; farmers were forced out of farm plantations; public markets, federal highways, schools and all which defined a meaningful life to the natives were shut down by the activities of bandits.

In the Southeast, incensed and armed IPOB criminal gangs, who camouflaged in the guise of secession agitations also imposed a reign of terror on people of the region. Arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial killings of innocent Nigerians; mass looting of public businesses and other criminalities committed by IPOB members ignited excessive conflagrations and wailings.

The Niger Delta militants were also a pain in the neck. They violently howled agitations for an independent “Niger Delta republic.” They blew up oil pipelines and other facilities, massively engaged in crude oil theft among other heinous crimes like kidnapping of foreigners. In Kaduna, ethno-religious crisis resonated in loud drums of war; just like in some states in the Middle Belt, where herdsmen/farmers skirmishes as well as communal clashes snatched peace and security, as hired mercenaries and ethnic militias became overlords.

TYB was faced with these daunting security challenges, with an Army with its internal problems which dampened morale. It stimulated rampant mutinies in the frontlines, “tactical withdrawal” at the battlefront; poor weaponry base, indiscipline, unprofessional conduct, disloyalty and unpatriotic posture of soldiers towards the counter-insurgency war.

It amazed me that TYB resolved the problems of soldiers within a short time and repositioned the Nigerian Army into a responsive and responsible institution alive to its constitutional responsibilities. Soldiers begun to face squarely the counter-insurgency operations; reclaiming all territories previously under the control of Boko Haram and halted the regime of bomb explosions in Abuja and other Northern cities and towns. Almost all the five states under Boko Haram have been rescued; thousands of Boko Haram captives have regained freedom.

TYB gallantly fought insurgents, bandits, terrorists, violent secessionists, armed militants, ethnic militias and other criminal gangs unflinchingly and to a standstill until the day, he bowed out of active military service.

More pleasurable to me were the TYB’s rare initiatives which transformed the Nigerian Army into an entirely new institution with his reforms and innovations. Nigerian Army today has new specialized Army schools; old and abandoned Army institutions have been revamped.

TYB returned Nigerian Army to its past glorious days of self-dependence where it manufactured some of its warfare equipment. The indigenous MRAP “Ezeugwu” war machine stands out distinctly as the conqueror of terrorists and protector of soldiers in the theatre of war in the Northeast. He visibly changed the narratives of the anti-insurgency combats in Nigeria progressively.

In fighting terrorism in Nigeria, TYB also established far reaching synergies with the Armies of other countries of the world both in the West African sub-region and foreign nations like India, Brazil, Bangladesh, Pakistan and so forth. Sensitive knowledge sharing and exchange of experiences on combating terrorism became a regular feature of his leadership. It accounted for his success in the anti-insurgency war.

I have no scintilla of doubt that TYB bowed out of military service, leaving Nigeria on a better anti-terrorism rating than he met it. His encounters and relationships with foreign countries, especially in the Francophone bloc would assist tremendously in his new assignment as Nigeria’s non-career ambassador.

It is my utmost conviction that Nigeria can better resolve its internal problems of insurgency, if the country strikes a strong diplomatic synergy with France and the francophone countries, most of which are our neighbours. Lt. Gen. TY Buratai (rtd) stands in good stead to anchor these diplomatic relations between Nigeria and these francophone countries.

I am convinced that in the fullness of time, we will all agree that TYB was a man of the people. He really and whole heartedly fought terrorism while in active military service and poised to do it even better in retirement while on the diplomatic scene as an Ambassador.

Aboh wrote this piece from Federal University Lafia.

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Buhari: The General On The Verge Of Defeat By Bandits, Terrorists – By Abel Augustine

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Since the inception of the present administration headed by the retired military general Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria and Nigerians have had different opinions about governance and the rule of law. The nation had never had it worst when it comes to economic meltdown, unproductivity and under development.

This is the first administration, be it military or civil that had festered poverty riddled with death due to the incessant actions of terrorists, bandits, armed robbery and the likes.

Buhari’s tirades before the elections that ushered him into power were that of a know it all demi god due to his past experience as military Head of State in the early 80s (1983-85) when he and the late Major General Tunde Idiagbon toppled the democratically elected second republic President, Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shagari, God rest his soul.

Buhari’s promise despite his three pronged approach to was like in Trumpish English is to make ” Nigeria Great Again”. This rhetoric was swallowed hook, line and sinker by naive Nigerians as they had grown delusional of the the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as well as the ruling elites.

Buhari”s Messianic chants were too good to be shelve aside because many believed he is a man of integrity hence, the man for the all important job.

Nigeria as a country has now witnessed an enormous leap back despite trillions spent by the Gen Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in fighting corruption, revamping the economy and terrorism.

All the gains made during the Goodluck Jonathan administration had been dashed on the alter of mediocrity and a new wave of terror, hunger and assumptions had been engraved in the minds of Nigerians.

Looking into some of Buhari’s uncanny tact for non understanding of administrative procedures as well as reasoning are how he thought. In a chroncled pattern, Buhari had been known to have been single handedly nominated by Boko Haram to moderate in there discussion with the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The Nation Online newspaper one of the leading news outlet specifically reported “Boko Haram picks Buhari to moderate talks with government,

The Nation,November 2, 2012 https://thenationonlineng.net/boko-haram-picks-buhari-to-moderate-talks-with-govt/

In another report, Buhari had been on recording telling the Federal Government not to kill Boko Haram terrorists ” Stop killing Boko Haram members, Buhari tells FG

PointBlank News, June 2, 2013

http://pointblanknews.com/pbn/exclusive/stop-killing-boko-haram-members-buhari-tells-fg/

Mr Buhari also faulted the FG’s clampdown on terrorists which begs for understanding what he had or is having in common with them “Buhari faults clampdown on Boko Haram members

The Nation, June 2, 2013

https://thenationonlineng.net/buhari-faults-clampdown-on-boko-haram-members/.”

A major stroke a defeatist is urging his comrades at arm to thrown down there weapons and let their guards down. This was clearly shown by Buhari’ s action as he, in June 3, 2013 said that “Military Offensive Against Boko Haram, Anti-North – Buhari

All Africa News, June 3, 2013

https://allafrica.com/stories/201306030384.html.

While taking over power from Goodluck, the first major action he performed in his administration is to chase out the South Africa mercenaries who had already degraded Boko Haram, hence allowing elections to hold peacefully in Borneo State and all of the North Eastern parts of the country.

“How Buhari stopped us from fighting Boko Haram – South African mercenary

The Guardian, November 26, 2018

https://allafrica.com/stories/201811270024.html.

With some of the actions manifested by the Federal Government, dissention set in, in the nation’s armed forces as soldiers started crying “foul” to some policies taken by the Buhari administration.

Chief amongst this are the setting free of confirmed captured Boko Haram fighters as revealed by the cable online medium. “FG is setting our killers free – soldiers kick as 1,400 Boko Haram suspects are released

The Cable, February 11, 2020

https://www.thecable.ng/fg-is-setting-our-killers-free-soldiers-kick-as-1400-boko-haram-suspects-are-released.

Despite the hue and cries from Nigerians especially those in the security circle, Buhari started releasing those tagged ” Repentant Boko Ha ram terrorists” back into the society.

Now who does that with even a thief talk less of some one captured as a terrorist and expect to have peace in his dormain? But Buhari and his gang did just right that.

“Nigerian government to release 603 repentant Boko Haram terrorists back to society in July

Sahara Reporters, June 11, 2020

http://saharareporters.com/2020/06/11/nigerian-government-release-603-repentant-boko-haram-terrorists-back-society-july.

There are consequences to every action and the first sign of trouble started when over 300 soldiers in an Army that is not large and mobile retired at a go.

This already experienced battle hardened individuals are also have gone into circulation in most parts of the country as some had been arrested in one form of criminality or the other.

This actions had shown that the Nigerian military despite it successes abroad is yet to lean the basic rule of soldiering which is keeping the troops contented.

“356 soldiers tender resignation to Buratai, cite loss of interest

Punch, July 12, 2020

https://punchng.com/356-soldiers-tender-resignation-to-buratai-cite-loss-of-interest/.”

Other actions which had shown that the present administration of Muhammadu Buhari does not give a hoot about the well have also being chronicled as the economy of the nation as well as it social wellbeing had been taken over by bandits and other soldiers of fortune who have been visiting untold hardships to the people.

“601 ex-Boko Haram combatants graduate in Gombe

The Nation, July 26, 2020

https://thenationonlineng.net/601-ex-boko-haram-combatants-graduate-in-gombe/.”

601 repentant terrorists graduate, paid N20,000 each

Punch, July 26, 2020.

Despite the massive poverty in the land, Buhari’s administration had continues to play the Ostrich with the lives of Nigerians.

From a little more than 90 naira per liter of fuel, six years later the pump price has gone close to 200 naira and cocounting.

He, Buhari was once seen weeping in the media claiming that the rate at which the economy and especially the price of fuel calls for extreme concern.

He told all who cared to hear and know that he was once heading the petroleum industry which birthed the Kaduna Refinary and help in improving the refining of fuel in the country.

He blabbed about repairing all the refineries in the country as well as making Nigeria an exporter of refined fuel product.

But the poor continue to believe in the rhetorics of Mr Buhari and members of his cabinet who had openly continue to accused and point fingers in all the wrong areas.

Let the present administration leverage on its goodwill which is dwindling as the only hope its depending on is itself.

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Appreciating Ibrahim’s Compassionate Leadership At NYSC – By Philip Agbese

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One of Africa’s globally celebrated novelist and erudite scholar, Chinua Achebe spewed this timeless maxim in one of his novels; “The man of the people is not about Harvard or Cambridge degrees; but the man that speaks and understands the language of the people.” Achebe’s wisdom sparkles with a timeless relevance in leadership on the African continent and Nigeria today, just like yesterday when the words were uttered.

The Director-General (DG) National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim has indubitably discerned and applied the wisdom of Chinua Achebe wherever he has rendered service to his country. His admirable philosophy resonates in the extra premium he attaches to the people he serves. The NYSC boss is synonymous with selfless service and the development of others, a leadership trait, which hardly shadows in most Nigerian leaders.

Ibrahim, a pioneer Registrar of the Nigerian Army University, Biu is a famed Military historian, scholar, administrator, pragmatist, teacher, pacesetter, innovator and workaholic. He knows his leadership destination and how to excellently navigate his path to success. Ibrahim is a perfect example of one of Nigeria’s genuine and committed leaders.

When the ideal marksman for a job is located, it is easy to notice. Since Shuaibu Ibrahim, the Nasarawa state-born Army General sauntered on stage at NYSC headquarters Abuja, the shining ambience of performance has been inescapable and a cynosure of all eyes.

For the NYSC boss, his current assignment is merely the return to a familiar turf, having served as a Military Assistant (MA) to a former Director-General of the scheme years back. It implies, he has a vast knowledge and experience of the internal operations of the scheme, which has been converted to a rewarding leadership asset for the discharge of formidable service to young Nigerian graduates.

From North to South and from Sokoto to Bayelsa, NYSC members ululate in unanimous tongues their endearing delights and joys with Ibrahim’s persona in his barely two years leadership of the scheme. For the Nigerian youth corps members, Ibrahim is one unforgettable and outstanding administrator of the NYSC.

And like in the catchy aphorism of Achebe; the NYSC boss understands and speaks the language of the people. He does not dispense it from the prisms of bossiness; but the people are excited because he shadows in a unique servant-leader style for the present and future prosperity of the Nigerian youths.

The NYSC DG’s personage embodies a humane, kind-hearted, compassionate, loving and generous personality to a fault. He has a palpable and enduring affection for progress and development of the Nigerian youths. Barely weeks after his appointment in 2019, Brigadier Gen. Ibrahim’s instincts and passion for work manifested. He paid a surprise working visit to the NYSC’s Sagamu Permanent Orientation Camp, in Ogun state in the wee hours of the morning.

The NYSC boss inspected facilities at the camp to ensure they were up to a standard that can guarantee at least minimal comfort for corpers. He gave fatherly counsel on discipline and obedience to constituted authorities to the 2019 Batch B Stream One. But what amazed corp members most in the early morning visit by the NYSC boss was that he gifted various groups of the corps members with memorably fanciful gifts.

Ibrahim, a doctoral degree holder in history and a resourceful military researcher of repute is not a friend to failure. So, he launched a vigorous campaign to terminate the reign of temporary orientation camps for NYSC members as soon as he assumed office. He frowned at the subsisting practice of some states which have converted schools into camps.

Therefore, as part of his focus on welfare of corpers, he engaged State Governors still operating in temporary sites to build permanent, and standard NYSC Orientation Camps. Excitingly, the tide has started changing very rapidly, with NYSC permanent camps in almost 32 states of the federation now. In tandem with these campaigns, several states in the country with dilapidated structures in their Permanent Orientation Camps have had them renovated with upgraded facilities for the comfort of NYSC members.

Ibrahim has his mind fixated in attracting extra stipends for Corp members from all the states of the federation to complement what is uniformly paid all corpers by the Federal Government. He has worked assiduously to ensure; every State Government generally pays a token to corpers posted on national assignments in their respective states as incentive for the national service to fatherland.

And to smoothen the path, domesticate and deepen the campaigns, Gen. Ibrahim has persuaded and lured some Governors to crusade for better welfare for youth Corp members. The strategy is working rewardingly, as excited corpers in states that have complied endlessly glorify the NYSC boss.

Gen. Ibrahim is seen by by corpers and Nigerians as one NYSC DG, who immediately implemented a new Federal Government approved allowance for corps members, which stood at N30,000. But he also, magnanimously added an additional N3,000 on the FGN’s approved N30,000 per corper.

These welfare initiatives by Ibrahim are to provide an elaborate window for prudent serving corpers to save part of their allowances, which they could invest into productive ventures after the one-year mandatory service. It’s a very commendable philosophy and the best way of expressing fondness to secure the growth and development of young Nigerian graduates.

Also intricately linked to the welfare of serving NYSC members, Ibrahim has prioritized the security of corpers wherever they are posted in Nigeria for primary assignment. The NYSC boss is mindful of the pervading insecurities in some parts of the country and has adopted water-tight security strategies and administrative protection measures for corpers.

In Borno, like in other states, where insecurity as induced by Boko Haram insurgency is prevalent, the DG has given a standing order that no corper should be posted to volatile or potentially risky areas. He has sustained an evergreen collaboration with security agencies to ensure the safety, security of lives and property of corps members are neither threatened nor comprised in any circumstance.

To this end, the NYSC DG is very strict against night journeys by corpers and has consistently persuaded the sick to always report to the authorities for prompt medical attention by the handy Corps Medical Personnel of the scheme. He is also passionate about protection of female corpers from exploitation while serving the nation under the scheme. He has never failed to warn female corp members not to compromise their dignity and womanhood for gratifications and has contrived secret ways to monitor such blackmails which leads to abuses of the womenfolk either by NYSC staff or employers of corpers.

When the Coronavirus pandemic broke out in Nigeria and caused nationwide panic, Brigedier Gen. Ibrahim immediately swung into action to protect the beloved graduate children of Nigerians entrusted in his care. After a prolonged closure of NYSC camps; but the necessity to reopen them in order not to stagnate the future of Nigerian graduate youths, Gen. Ibrahim did the needful to secure the lives of the youths entrusted in his hands.

He immediately secured all NYSC orientation camps throughout the country by putting in place essential measures endorsed by the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) to prevent Covid-19 from invading the camps. He traversed the country on surprise visits to ensure its implementation.

Instantly, NCDC officials were deployed to NYSC camps for testing of prospective corp members and the officials before admission into the orientation camps. Hand sanitizers and reduction in the number of admitted corpers for each stream of the orientation exercise; spacing of hostel beds in consonance with the prescribed physical distancing regulation, compulsory use of facemasks and all other ancillary protocols of Covid-19 were strictly enforced.

Undeniably, Gen. Ibrahim is demonstrating to youths of Nigeria a kind of special fatherly love, which those who passed through the scheme before now never had the luxury of the experience. Nigerian youth corp members are convinced and indeed, sing eulogies of the DG for a rare exhibition of leadership, which they have admitted as close to their hearts.

The NYSC DG speaks to corpers in a language they have clearly decoded. Only a few leaders in the ilk of Ibrahim are prodded to speak the language of the people in Nigeria. What has remained unique in Gen. Ibrahim’s leadership style is his mastery and implementation of the techniques capable of changing the life fortunes of Nigerian young graduates within a year of his encounter with them under the scheme.

Agbese is a human rights activist based in the United Kingdom.

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