Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, NAM GSS psc(+) ndc (BD) BA (Hons) MA MPhil
Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, a world class Infantry officer assumed command as the 20th Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Nigerian Army on 16 July, 2015. He was born on 24th November 1960, at Buratai town, Biu Local Government Area of Borno State.
He started his primary school in Kaduna and completed it at St Patrick Primary School Maiduguri, and thereafter, proceeded to Government Teachers’ College Potiskum, now in Yobe State, where he completed and subsequently obtained his Teachers’ Grade 2 certificate with flying colours, graduating with distinction. An iconic example of a citizen who places national interest above personal one, whose zeal to serve the nation with his life is inborn. It is this inalienable zeal to serve the nation with his life that made him apply and gain admission into the prestigious Nigerian Defence Academy Kaduna as a member of the 29th Regular Combatant Course (29 RC) on 3rd January 1981. On successful completion of his Officer Cadet training, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 17th December 1983 into the Infantry Corps.
He has, since his commission attended several courses and seminars both within and outside Nigeria, and also served in many Formations, Units and Training Institutions where he held Command, Staff and Instructional appointments. These include the mandatory Young Officers’ Course Infantry (YOC) and Anti-Tank Platoon Commanders’ Course both at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry, Jaji. He also attended Watermanship Course at Amphibious Training School, Calabar and Joint Operations Coaching Course, as well as Computer Appreciation Course. He attended the Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC) for his Junior and Senior Staff Courses in 1994 and 1999-2000 respectively. Similarly, Lieutenant General Buratai also attended Management Course at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and International Conference for Directors of Planning, Research and Statistics. Others include Disarmament, Demobilization and Re-integration Course at Cornwallis Park, Nova Scotia, Canada in 2000 and National Defence Course in Bangaladesh and the United Nations Staff and Logistics Officers’ Course in India, among others.
He was a Platoon Commander at 26 Amphibious Battalion Elele, Port Harcourt, from 19 January 1984 to 30 September 1986. He was a Military Observer at the United Nations Verification Mission II in Angola from 1st October 1986 to 30th August 1987. He was again a Platoon Commander at 26 Guards Battalion from 1st September to 15 November 1987 and later served as Company Second in Command (Coy 2ic) in the same unit from 15 September 1991 to 14 August 1994. He was also a Platoon Commander at the Lagos Garrison Command Camp from 15 August 1994 to 19 April 1995.
General Buratai has also served as Staff Officer to the Principal Staff Officer to the then Head of State at the State House from 20 April 1995 to 23 July 1998 before his appointment as Officer Commanding (OC) at 82 Motorized Battalion from 24 July 1998 to 11 July 1999. He was Second in Command of 81 Battalion from 1st August 2000 to 12 April 2000. He served as General Staff Officer Grade 1 in Charge of Training and Operations (GSO1 Trg/Ops) at the Army Headquarters Garrison from 14 February 2001 to 31 July 2001. Thereafter, he became a Directing Staff at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC) from 1st August 2001 to 16 March 2004, where he was awarded the prestigious “Pass Staff College Dagger” (psc(+)) appellation.
Afterwards, General Buratai served as Colonel Plans at the Army Headquarters Department of Army Policy and Plans from 17 March 2004 to 4 December 2007 and then Assistant Chief of Staff in charge of Administrative Matters (ACOS G1) at the Headquarters Infantry Corps Centre from 16 February 2009 to 29 December 2009 before his promotion to the rank of Brigadier General. He was again at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College where he served as Director of the Department of Land Warfare from 30 December 2009 to 27 January 2011 before his appointment as Commander 2 Brigade Nigerian Army where he served from 28 January 2011 to 25 January 2013. At 2 Brigade Nigerian Army Port Harcourt, he doubled as the Brigade Commander, as well as Commander Sector 2 of Operation PULO SHIELD Joint Task Force. On his promotion to the rank of Major General, he was appointed Commandant, Nigerian Army School of Infantry (NASI), Jaji where he served from 26 January 2013 to 16 February 2014. On 17 February 2014, he was appointed Director of Procurement at the Defence Headquarters from where he was appointed Force Commander of the reconstituted Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) on 18 May 2015. General Buratai was appointed the 20th Chief of Army Staff on Monday 13 July 2015.
A highly decorated General, the Chief of Army Staff has the following Honours and Awards eminently earned: Nigerian Army Medal (NAM), Forces Service Star (FSS), Meritorious Service Star (MSS), Distinguished Service Star (DSS) and the Grand Service Star (GSS). Others include Pass Staff Course Dagger (psc(+)), National Defence College (ndc) (Bangladesh), Field Command Medal (FCM), Training Support Medal (TSM) and the United Nations Medal for Angolan Verification Medal II (UNAVEM II). In addition, the erudite general has the following qualifications; Nigerian Defence Academy Certificate of Education, Bachelor of Arts in History, Masters of Arts Degree in History and a Master of Philosophy Degree in Security Studies.
Destined for greater heights, General Buratai who exemplifies hard work discipline and obedience, has always earned his promotions as at when due. He was promoted Lieutenant on 3 January 1985, Captain on 3 January 1989 and became a Major on 3 January 1994. He was promoted Lieutenant Colonel on 3 January 1998 and Colonel on 3 January 2004. He became a Brigadier General on 3 January 2009 and promoted Major General on 3 January 2012. The President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, approved his promotion to the rank of a Lieutenant General on Thursday 13th August 2015.
The Chief of Army Staff is a Member of the Historical Society of Nigeria and his hobbies include farming, squash racket and jogging. He is happily married and blessed with children.
GENERAL ACHIEVEMENTS AS THE COAS
The appointment of Gen Buratai on 13th July, 2015, as the 20th COAS, and his assumption of office on 16th July 2015, during which he unveiled his vision which is “To Have a Professionally Responsive Nigerian Army in the Discharge of its Constitutional Roles”. The vision which is designed to engender a professional rebirth of the NA, in its entirety clearly spelt out the defeat of the insurgency, and the liberation of all the territories held by the insurgents. Indeed, his burning desire and unparalleled determination to rekindle the fighting spirit of NA was legendary, as he left office hours after taking over command and launched himself into the theatre of operation. He visited and interacted with commanders and their troops where he obtained firsthand information and saw things for himself. The assessment enabled him to identify the missing link and devised better, more efficient strategies to prosecute the war. On the strength of the information obtained, he proffered solutions to some of the noted issues, made adjustments and instantly gave directives to modify some of the deployments at the frontlines.
It is equally important to note that Gen Buratai as the COAS believes that national interest is better secured when there is cooperation among the security agencies, hence the synergy with other security agencies in the fight against the criminal elements across the country. He also believes that the solution to insurgency does not lie in military operations alone. Hence, he always reiterates the efficacy of joint efforts of all Nigerians- the military and civil populace – in the war against any form of crime and criminality in the country. In his words, “Solution lies in a comprehensive national approach. Nigerians have a role to play, royal fathers, opinion leaders and policy makers all have a role to play to bring peace to the land.” It is in recognition of this remarkable quality that he is variously described as a game changer; a man of distinction; a man who places national interest above self; a man who personifies patriotism, absolute loyalty, among others.
Through personal discipline, courage, inspiration and motivation, as well as some uncommon initiatives, he rekindled the fighting spirit of the NA. As it is said, good and visionary leaders are those who alter the course of action as time demands, this man of distinction, changed all that needed to be changed, especially as regards strategies and policies, all aimed at the NA’s rebirth and defeating the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists. Gen Buratai’s exceptional leadership style as exemplified by his father- son relationship with the troops changed the known norms. Thus, for the first time, we have a COAS who advances to the battle fields with his troops, who stays in the trenches with his troops and who celebrates national holidays in the battle field with his troops. This is informed by his belief that one cannot lead anyone in absentia if one wants to achieve meaningful results. This uncommon attribute became the magic wand that performed uncommon feat. And like red cloth before a bull, the highly motivated troops charged against the terrorists and defeated them, thereby liberating our people from their stranglehold, as well as regaining not only the lost territories but the glory of the NA.
To ensure rapid deployment and response wherever the fleeing insurgents may attack in the North East, he established the first of its kind Motorcycle Battalions. This uncanny novel initiative which was done to enhance the mobility of the troops considering the peculiar terrain of the area made his leadership star shine brighter than one before him.
It is also pertinent to put on record, the massive injection of logistics items such as uniforms, boots, ballistics helmets, fragmented jackets, arms, ammunition and other essential equipment into the NA inventory. To further motivate and inspire the troops, the COAS embarked on various constructions and rehabilitations of offices and living accommodations of officers and soldiers across the barracks in the country. This laudable effort is designed to address the lingering accommodation problems facing officers and soldiers. Worthy of mention are the four blocks of 3 – bed room flats each acquired for officers in Kubwa and 10 blocks of 3- bed room flats each at Dutsen Alhaji for soldiers all in Abuja. Also, the two additional blocks of 32 flats of 2- bed room and 40 self contained one bed room respectively in Shehu Yar’ Adua Barracks, Abuja, constructed by the COAS were recently commissioned and allocated to soldiers. Equally, the construction of new ultra modern accommodation office in the Army Headquarters (the new wing of Army Headquarters Complex) has been completed, commissioned and occupied, while the renovations and equipping of the main Army Headquarters, as well as the Flag Staff Houses in Lagos and Kaduna have also been completed, with the construction of a new one in Maiduguri already completed and commissioned. The new office for Army Headquarters Provost Group has been completed, equipped and already in use.
As a loving and concerned father who understands and appreciates the importance of education for his children, he inaugurated the first ever Educational Summit to discuss and put in perspective the state of Nigerian Army Command Schools where he charged the Commandants among other responsibilities, to determine the cause of falling standard of education in Army Command Schools and the low enrollment, especially of children of NA personnel into the command schools. One of the historic outcomes of the summit was the downward review of school fees in all command schools by a margin of 50%, which has impacted positively on the welfare of the troops. Command schools are now the preferred choice for children of NA personnel.
In keeping with the contemporary security realities, he has established many Forward- Operation Bases (FOBs), particularly in the North East and North Western regions. He has also established NA Special Forces Training School in Buni Yadi, the Nigerian Army Institute of Technology and Environmental Studies NAITES which has been upgraded and now known as the Nigerian Army University of Technology in Biu, as well as the NA Resource Centre, Abuja among others. The Resource Center has not only been a magnificent edifice but a Center of Excellence for hosting Corporate and Educational conferences and seminars. It is in fact a pride of Abuja and its environs. As we all know, one of the outstanding initiatives of Gen Buratai, was the establishment of the Human Rights Desks Office. Knowing the import of sound legal knowledge and apparatus in protecting human rights, as well as avoiding its abuses, he further established the NA Legal Services Training School in Bassawa, Zaria.
Gen Buratai, a seasoned military officer whose resilience and resourcefulness are legendary as the Chief of Army Staff is indeed the game changer not only in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists and criminals, but also in the administration of the NA through his uncommon leadership quality, as evidenced in the fore-mentioned achievements. Every age is said to have its own Alexander the Great and Napoleon Bonaparte, without fear of contradiction, it is unequivocally clear that the 21 century history will single out General Buratai as its own example of these military legends.
As the President, Coalition of Civil societies and Media Executives for Good Governance, Mr Kenneth Aigegbele rightly stated when the Coalition honoured Gen Buratai with the Best Chief of Army Staff of the Decade Award recently. In his words, “The army has seen several Chiefs of Army Staff since the insurgency began but the coming of Gen Buratai as the COAS changed the tune of the war with his proactive leadership style and forthrightness”.
The choice of General Buratai as the COAS and the glorious turnaround effects of his unique leadership quality on Nigerian Army find better expression in the words of an Abuja based policy analyst, Mr Tajudeen Abdulkareem, while appraising the extraordinary changes that have taken place in the NA under his command. According to him, “The emergence of Lt Gen Buratai as the COAS is perhaps the mostly widely acclaimed political decision in recent times in restoring the integrity of the Nigerian Army. His style, carriage, professionalism and leadership-by example posture have restored morale, confidence and nationalism in the average soldier, especially those on the battle field”.