It remains to be seen how the physical presence of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, at the Northeast theatre of war will give the Nigerian troops an advantage over Boko Haram.
The Acting Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, said in a statement that Lt Gen Buratai had “relocated fully to the Northeast where he is overseeing and directing the overall operation in the theatre and other Nigerian Army operations across the country.”
It is unclear why the army boss took the decision at this time, and why he did not do so earlier. It remains to be seen whether his move will make a difference.
Perhaps Lt Gen Buratai is haunted by his tough talk about a month ago, during the Nigerian Army Special Day at the 41st Kaduna International Trade Fair on March 7. The army boss, who spoke through the Chief of Policy, Nigerian Army, Lieutenant General Lamidi Adeosun, was reported to have said that the army would crush Boko Haram in a matter of days.
That has not happened, and the war against the Boko Haram insurgents, which has gone on for more than 10 years now, is looking like a war without end.
“While addressing troops of Special Super Camp Ngamdu in Kaga Local Government Area of Borno State on 9 April 2020, Gen. Buratai said that he will be with them to the nooks and crannies of the theatre,” the army spokesman said.
He recalled that “the COAS had been on operational tour to troops’ locations in the Northeast Theatre of Operation since Saturday the 4th of April, 2020. During the tour, he was at the Army Super Camp 1 at Mulai and the Special Forces Super Camp 12 at Chabbol near Maiduguri on Wednesday 8 April 2020 where he interacted with the officers and addressed the troops respectively.
“COAS was also at the Forward Operations Base at Alau Dam, and also personally led the troops on patrol round Mairimari and Maigilari Forests.”
By relocating to the theatre of war, Lt Gen. Buratai has probably played his last card. He should know that if this move does not bring the desired result, which is the clear defeat of the terrorists, it would amount to nothing more than an elaborate stunt. In the event that the latest counter-insurgency effort under Lt Gen. Buratai fails, such a failure should result in his exit.