By Augustine Ehikioya
To many people, Sunday 28th of August, 2022 was just another day Christians went to their churches to worship God, but it was also a special day when a man who has given his all to security in Nigeria, Africa and the world was honoured.
Lieutenant General (Dr) Tukur Yusufu Buratai (Rtd) was honoured as the first-ever recognized “The Bearer of Security Torch” in the whole world.
The honour recognising contributions to security by Buratai, who was the former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of Nigerian Army, was conferred on him during the World Peace Symposium organized by the World Institute for Peace (WIP) at the Airport Golden Tulip Hotel, Lagos State.
The event drew many dignitaries from far and near to the State also known as the ‘Centre of Excellence’.
Many hotels around the venue of the event were fully booked as at evening of Saturday 27th of August, 2022.
For those that arrived by flights on the day of the event, many of them had to wait several hours for other hotel users to check out of the hotels before they could get accommodation.
The space for the hall for the symposium was also filled to the brim with the dignitaries shortly after the event started around 12 noon.
Some of the guests physically present at the symposium included Member of House of Representatives, Honourable Suleiman Turawa Ribadu and National Coordinator of the African Union Development Agency and Chief Executive Officer of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDAD/NEPAD), Princess Gloria Akobundu.
Also there were GOC 81 Division, Nigerian Army, Major General OC Ajunwa; Deputy Commandant, NAFRC Oshodi, Major General Hundeyin Parker; former Military Secretary (Army), Major General I.I. Abbah (rtd); the Managing Director/CEO, Dr. Bush and Farrant Co. Ltd, Dr. Manzo Ahmed; the former Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Kukasheka Usman (Rtd).
Others included Chief Executive Officer, Nam-Nam Petroleum, Alhaji Usman Nan-Nam; former National Deputy President, Nigerian Guild of Editors and CEO, Skymit Media Group, Alhaji Suleiman Uba Gaya and the Representative of Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Ali Zango, Commander, Area F, Nigeria Police Force, Ikeja.
Also at the symposium are Chairman of Babur Community in Lagos State, Alhaji Isah Dogo; KIA Representative in Nigeria, Alhaji Mas’udu Ahmed; Director, Nigerian Shippers Council, Alhaji Mohammed Malgwi; Sarkin Yakin Garkuwan Keffi, Engineer Hassan Mohammed and Founder of the Chukwuma Nwokocha Ministries, Pastor Chukwuma Nwokocha.
The Executive Chairman of WIP, Comrade Lamina Omotoyosi, had announced Amb. Buratai to the gathering as the pioneer Bearer of Security Torch worldwide, due to his contributions to security not only in Africa, but to the world.
Among the guests also were many of Buratai’s course mates of the 29th Regular Combatant Course (29 RC), who were at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) with him at the beginning of their career in 1981.
Lieutenant General (Dr) Tukur Yusufu Buratai (Rtd), who is the current Nigeria’s Ambassador to Benin Republic, was not just celebrated in Nigeria alone.
There was a global focus on Buratai at the symposium as many WIP Ambassadors across the globe hooked up with the event through ZOOM.
Among those lined up to join and speak at the symposium through the online platform included Amb. (Dr) Pedrito Marrero (USA), Dr. (Amb.) Veronica H. C Nikki De Prinna (London), Amb. Ashanika Nidunmi (Sri Lanka), Amb. Obafemi Adunni (Ivory Coast), Amb. Sumana Sumi (Bangladesh), Amb. Mira Warszawski (London), Amb. (Dr.) Shahina Kishwer (Canada), Amb. (Dr.) Furkhan Noordeen (Sri Lanka), Amb. Rania Angelakoudi (Greece), and Amb. (Dr.) Jernail Singh Anand (India).
So as the internet network connection could allow, one after the other, they commended Buratai for his contribution to peace in Africa and the world.
The verdict from them all was that Buratai has paid his dues in global security to be declared the first “Bearer of Security Torch” worldwide.
Some of the ZOOM comments from outside Nigeria include that of the Ambassador in Sri Lanka, Amb. Ashanika Nidunmi, who said “Amb. Buratai is the first to receive this torch. And this is in recognition of his tremendous contribution in the field of security.”
Amb. Rania Angelakoudi, from Greece, described Amb. Buratai as an extraordinary soldier who committed his life to the safety of life and property in Nigeria.
One of the Ambassadors from London, Mira Warszawski said “The bearer of security torch will be coming every two years. Amb. Buratai is the first person in the whole world to receive this. May God bless all soldiers.”
So not surprised by the various comments, the Chairman of the 29th Regular Combatant Course, Commodore Matthew Bolaji Teidi (Rtd), said on behalf of the group “We started together at the NDA in 1981. What has been said here about him is true about him. He is a man of peace. Thank you for recognizing him and making him the pioneer Torch Bearer,”
Looking back at how Buratai had got to that enviable level, he had served Nigeria for three decades as a seasoned senior military officer in various capacities.
He became Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff at a time the insurgency in the North East was almost a daily attacks with lost of innocent lives and property, the scenario which almost overwhelmed the immediate past administration in Nigeria.
But with his strategies and magical touch, he was able to reduce the attacks in the North East to a very minimal level.
The Nigerian Army, under Buratai, in collaboration with other sister and security agencies were able to reclaim back many local government areas that were under the control of the insurgents.
Besides the North East, his tenure as the COAS was also able to put a stop to the movement of the insurgents’ attacks to other parts of the country.
Before Buratai was honoured at the event in Lagos State on Sunday, the citation of his past achievements were read to the whole world.
So to kit him for the top position destiny was preparing him for, he had attended several courses and seminars in Nigeria and abroad and served in many units, formations and training institutions where he held command, staff and instructional appointments.
Among them are the mandatory Young Officers Course Infantry (YOC) and Anti-Tank Platoon Commanders’ Course, both at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry, Jaji, Watermanship Course at Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre Forest School, Aluu, Port Harcourt and Joint Operations Coaching Course, and Computer Appreciation Course, Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC) for his Junior Course and Senior courses in 1994 and 1999-2000.
Other courses he attended included Management Course at Ahmadu Bello University, pZaria and the International Conference for Directors of Planning, Research and Statistics, Disarmament, Demobilization and Re-integration Course at Cornwallis Park Nova Scotia, Canada, in 2000, National Defence Course in Bangladesh, and the United Nations Staff and Logistics Officers’ Course in India.
The units and formations he served before getting to the exalted position of COAS included Platoon Commander at 26 Amphibious Battalion Elele, Port Harcourt, Military Observer at the United Nations Verification Mission II in Angola, Platoon Commander at 26 Guards Battalion, Platoon Commander at the Lagos Garrison Command Camp, Staff Officer to the Principal Staff Officer to the then Head of State at the State House from 20th April 1995 to 23rd July 1998,
Other positions are Officer Commanding (OC) at 82 Motorized Battalion, Second in Command of the 81 Battalion, General Staff Officer Grade 1 in Charge of Training and Operations (GSO1 Trg/Ops) at the Army Headquarters Garrison, Directing Staff at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC).
Buratai also held the positions as Colonel Plans at the Army Headquarters Department of Army Policy and Plans, Assistant Chief of Staff in charge of Administrative Matters (ACOS G1) at the Headquarters Infantry Corps Centre, Director of the Department of Land Warfare at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Commander 2 Brigade Nigerian Army, Commander, Sector 2 of Operation PULO SHIELD Joint Task Force.
He was also Commandant, Nigerian Army School of Infantry (NASI), Jaji, Director of Procurement at the Defence Headquarters, and Force Commander of the newly reconstituted Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).
Before the honour given to him on Sunday 28th August, 2022, Buratai had received the following Honours and Awards in the course of his career, Nigerian Army Medal (NAM), Order of Military Merit (OMM Brazil), Forces Service Star (FSS), Meritorious Service Star (MSS).
Others are Distinguished Service Star (DSS) and the Grand Service Star (GSS), Pass Staff Course Dagger (psc(+)), National Defence College (ndc) (Bangladesh), Field Command Medal of Honour (FCMH), Foreign National Honours Award Medal (FNHAM).
He also received Training Support Medal (TSM) and the United Nations Medal for Angolan Verification Medal II (UNAVEM II).
His qualification over the years included Nigerian Defence Academy Certification of Education, Bachelor of Arts in History (BA), Masters of Arts Degree in History and a Master of Philosophy Degree in Security Studies, Honorary Doctorate Degree in Leadership and Peace from Kaduna State University and a Professor of Strategic Studies at large from Igbinedion University, Okada.
Among his numerous initiatives as the COAS included Barracks Investments Initiative Programme (BIIP), Nigerian Army Farms and Ranches (NAFRAL), Directorate of Public Procurement (DPP), Nigerian Army Special Forces School (NASFS), Buni Yadi, 707 Special Forces Brigade, Crocodile Smile Lodge Tarkwa Bay Lagos.
Others are, Nigerian Army Motorcycle Battalion, Nigerian Army University Biu, NAOWA Hospital, Abuja, Supply Transport Foods, Nigerian Army Women’s Corps (NAWC) and Nigerian Army Cyberspace Command.
Elated with the award at the event in Lagos State, Ambassador Buratai said “I want to sincerely appreciate the World Institute for Peace and the organizers of this symposium for identifying me to be its torch bearer.
“It is humbling on one hand, and gratifying on the other; truly it is an evidence that the efforts of our dear nation and it’s various actors to achieve peace in these tumultuous times have not gone unnoticed, and are appreciated by your esteemed organization.
“Particularly, being the past Chief of the Army Staff, Nigerian Army which has been at the vanguard of almost all physical efforts at ensuring peace, I am grateful to the institute for this recognition, it is by extension a recognition of the role of the officers and soldiers of our esteemed military in the development of our nation.”
On his past roles for peace and security, he said “In my years of service as a military officer up until my position as the Chief of Army staff, I have had the privilege of being a genuine participant in the quest for peace in Africa and Nigeria- from insurgency, terrorism, farmer-herder clashes, militancy, riots, Angola civil war, and the Bakasi War… to mention but a few.
“The Nigerian constitution recognises the Police Force as the primary institution tasked with the responsibility of handling internal security. However, the rise of Boko Haram in 2009 signaled a shift in the nature of internal strife in Nigeria, necessitating a shift in strategy.
“As a result, the military, particularly the Army, was thrown into the spotlight, and this has progressively become the norm, with the military increasingly playing a role in internal security management. My contributions to the peace initiative stand as proof on their own, as an officer and in the many roles I performed in the Army.
“As a young Captain I was opportuned to participate in UN Peacekeeping/Observer Mission under the auspices of the United Nations Angola Verification Mission II (UNAVEM II) from 1993 – 1994. It was my first contribution to the global UN Peace initiative.
“As the commander of the newly reconstituted MNJTF, I worked hard to strategise and planned the fight against the Boko Haram Terrorists group that almost engulfed the Lake Chad Basin countries. The roles played by Nigeria, AU and Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) were so strategic in bringing about the relative peace being enjoyed now.’
On the new award, he said “The responsibility with this conferment is not just to continue what has been my lifelong duty to restore peace, but also now ensure that I am a forerunner in championing causes and initiatives geared toward achieving national, regional and global peace.
“Even though I am a retired general, my active commitment to bringing about peace in Nigeria and the world does nothing but solidify my determination,” he stated.
While urging more serving and ex- military personnel across the globe to emulate Ambassador Tukur Buratai, more can really be achieved with such individual determination.
With this happening at different places in the world, peace and security will surely be facilitated in the crises-engulfed world.