Since the inception of this administration three years ago, a lot has changed in the operations of the Nigerian military, especially as it borders on the morale of officers and soldiers who, at a point, have had to confront the Boko Haram terrorists with bare hands, literally. Until May, 2015, Nigerians were witnesses to how millions of dollars were misappropriated by service chiefs. During that period, Nigerians were befuddled by the seizure of about $15 million by South African government from top government security functionaries who travelled to that former apartheid enclave with the volume of cash allegedly to buy arms.
All that changed when, on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari, there was a total overhaul of the financial management of the armed services to forestall a repeat of those ugly days and to ensure that budgetary stipulations are followed to the letter. With the welfare of the fighting forces been taken care of, benefits are paid and the wounded are empathised with. It has been a morale booster for officers.
The psychological implication of this can be outstanding. In warfare, psychology offers a unique and powerful asset in military operations. It is even so in peacetime. Without doubt, this also affects the opponent, in this case the terrorists, in the sense that when news goes round about procurement of hardware like the super Tucano Fighter Jets, it sends shivers down their spine.
This effort to restore transparency and accountability in the operations of the military is deliberate and it may not sound pleasant to the ears of Amnesty International and other like minds who, out of mischief, allege that the military is not adhering to the rules of engagement in the ongoing fight against Boko Haram terrorists in the Northeast. For them, the military is violating human rights and indulging in extrajudicial killings of innocent people in the theatre of war. But, if they are conversant with military operations as they make the world believe, they ought to know that wars are either symmetric or asymmetric. They should know that the fight against Boko Haram terrorists is not a conventional war. It is an asymmetric war. Asymmetric war is one between belligerents whose relative military powers differ significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly. This is typically a war between a standing, professional army, and an insurgency or resistance movement.
The Nigerian military, in our opinion, is on record to have been viciously attacked by Amnesty International and its agents in Nigeria. As a self-imposed watchdog, Amnesty International, in the eyes of more discerning analysts, has its own fair share of credibility problem judging from its inability to find a balance between the civil liberties of people and the national security needs of sovereign independent nations. When the terrorists capture, torture or kill their captives, take hostages, or commit crimes against humanity, Amnesty International feigns ignorance. This much has been the case, hence the widespread criticism it has received in most countries, including Nigeria.
Notwithstanding, it is the view of this newspaper that the past three years under review have seen tremendous improvements in the operations of the Nigerian Army under the leadership of Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai. There are measurable indices to support this assertion. His command of Nigerian troops in the prosecution of the counterinsurgency war as well as the army's compliance with internationally laid down rules of engagement have spurred commendations in his favour.
It is reassuring, in our opinion, that within his ongoing tour of duty, Buratai and the Nigerian Army were conferred with awards of patriotism and excellence by THE NIGERIAN News Portal at The Dorchester, in the City of Westminster. The Chief of Army Staff was also conferred with the Brazilian Military Order of Merit Award at Brasilia, Brazil. The Brazilian Military Order of Merit Award, which is the highest military honour, is awarded to those military officers who have distinguished themselves in various military endeavours.
The United States also commended the operational efforts of the Nigerian Army in the counter-terrorism war in North-East Nigeria through the US Ambassador to Nigeria. Similarly, a recent appraisal of the counter-insurgency campaigns in Nigeria, especially the Northeast, by the United Nations (UN) also applauded as exemplary Nigerian Army's professional hold on Boko Haram terrorism and insurgency as conforming to international best practices. Additionally, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) led by its president, Ambassador Mathew Rycroft, expressed same views about Nigerian troops fighting the counter-insurgency war when they were in Nigeria on assessment tour.
It is pertinent to note that the leadership of the Nigerian Army under the direct supervision of President Buhari is returning the army and, indeed, the entire military to their pristine glory. The remarkable attention to standards of discipline and professionalism through the enforcement of a commensurate rewards and punishment system in the force have restored confidence in them by Nigerians.