By David Onmeje
Initially, It seemed very foggy to me. I was one of the few critics who interrogated why the Kaduna State University, (KSUK), Kaduna had to find Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai worthy of conferment of an honorary doctorate degree.
Gen. Buratai who was recently conferred with a doctorate degree (honoraris causa) in leadership and peace. He was honoured alongside other prominent Nigerians at the combined convocation ceremony of KSUK attended by eminent personalities in Nigeria. A gathering of sophisticated intellectuals as described by many spectators.
I recounted Gen. Buratai’s exploits in the Nigerian Army and narrowed it to the day President Muhammedu Buhari appointed him, the COAS cum leader of the nation’s counter-terrorism plans. And behold, the illuminating light descended on me very convincingly.
At last it dawned on me that the University’s decision to honour Gen. Buratai was not only commendable, and timely, but has also raised the pedestal for the world to see the Army Chief as a beacon, who reflects uncommon leadership of the Army and a new public lifestyle. He epitomizes enduring peace, which he has devoted the last few years of his military career to entrench in his fatherland.
I reflected deeply and realized logically that Gen. Buratai has battled covert and overt forces with the troops he leads to anchor succor from insecurity to Nigerians. He has withered the storm of official blackmails, namedropping, smear campaigns, malicious persecutions and hate sermons on his person and the Nigerian Army from enemies of Nigeria, who plotted his failure on this national assignment. But he outsmarted them in their numbers collectively.
The Army boss has led Nigerian troops to battles against Boko Haram and other insurrections in the country to successful victories. With the heart of a lion, Gen. Buratai combined leadership in the trenches and in the office, proving his prowess as a man roundly endowed.
But what really sparked in me the wisdom or reason justifying KSUK’s conferment of an honourary doctorate degree on Gen. Buratai were the special imprints and legacies he has deposited on the sands of time.
I recalled that in spite of his arduous schedules fighting multifaceted insurgencies and terrorism, Gen. Buratai still finds time to think and invest in the education of Nigerian Army; which could benefit other arms of the military and even civilians. In my neighbourhood, Gen. Buratai is endearingly feted with the epaulet, “ terror of terrorists.”
I have seen many federal ministers of education who have spent several years on the seat and left, but could not boast of a government school built in their lifetime in Officr. And it is quite appalling that it is the experience even when they presided over government’s establishment of universities under their tenure.
Life has different experiences for different people. I know there are very many former Vice Chancellors of both state and federal universities whom God Almighty has not granted the foresight to understand their communities are deserving of higher institutions. They have risen to the pinnacle of knowledge but have abandoned their localities in the abyss of darkness.
But in contrast, Gen. Buratai has proven to be one of the greatest accomplished soldier, innovator, strategist and conqueror to ever emerge in Nigeria’s recent history of the Army. In his desire to transform and enhance operational efficiency of soldiers in combating insurgency, the Army Chief railroaded the Nigerian Army to the next level by establishing the first Nigerian Army Aviation School (Corps).
With this record breaking initiative, Gen. Buratai conspicuously placed the Nigerian Army in Africa as one of the few armies with an independent air wing from the Air Force. The first set of pilots and technicians have graduated after an intensive two-year training in flying warplanes and perfection in allied courses.
That’s the extent Gen. Buratai has gone in search of peace and security for Nigerians. These leadership attributes are uncommon in most leaders in our clime. Beyond sentiments, it explains why he stands tall at all times.
And to further demonstrate his exceptional commitment to the continuous training of soldiers and exposure to the ever dynamic world of knowledge in warfare, Gen. Buratai conceived the idea of Nigerian Army University, Biu (NAUB). He has aggressively pursued it to fruition within a short time.
We can only appreciate the leadership foresight of Gen. Buratai if we dissect the gamut of the NAUB. The specialized university has commenced its maiden academic session, as it was commissioned last October, 2018 and structured to favourably compete with some of the best Universities in the world in the next three decades.
NAUB is conceptualized as a center of excellence and positioned to lead scientific and technological researches and breakthroughs in military studies and conventional courses.
Its faculties and departments are a blend of specialized security courses as well as those offered by conventional institutions to carter for the civilian quota of its admissions.
An insight into NAUB reveals an exhilarating solid foundation, kick-starting with seven faculties. These includes; a distinctive Faculty of Military Technology and a Faculty of Military Policy, Logistics and Strategy.
Others include faculties run by conventional universities such as Science, Technology, Social Sciences, Environmental Studies, Administrative and Management Studies , as well as Schools and Centres. NAUB is a complete academic hub for Nigerians desirous of knowledge.
As already stated, NAUB admits both military and civilian students with a greater percentage in favour of civilians. And its staff composition also reflects the same mix.
Gen. Buratai says, NAUB is hued to function on the principles of creativity, self-reliance and self-sufficiency. So, I sensed that for a leader good in the warfront and equally splendid in administrative endowments, the KSUK award of a doctorate degree to Gen. Buratai is a loud proclamation of appreciation of his many discrete impacts on humanity.
These realities struck like a thunderbolt. I was instantly compelled to scribble these few lines as my token of appreciation to KSUK for honouring a leader who has given his very best in the service of his nation.