Army Cannot Defeat Boko Haram, Buratai Tells Senate

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The war against insurgency in the country seems to be far from over as the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai has revealed that the army cannot stop terrorism and other forms of criminalities in the North since it did not start it in the first place.

The former army chief, who shocked his audience at the Ambassadorial nominee screening by the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, reiterated a remark he made months before his eventual resignation as COAS, that the insurgency in the country cannot be defeated in the next 20-years.

Buratai, who refused to disclosed whether he was sacked or resigned said that the war against Boko Haram “is a complex issue that requires a whole government approach to deal with. Military activities or military action is just one aspect. And this is one mistake that we have been making. Only the military is seen to be solving this problem. It is not. Military cannot solve this action. In the first place it wasn’t the military that started it.”

He added that the political, social and economic factors that led to the crises must be addressed from the beginning, adding, “I don’t need to take you to from the independence or the first republic, and so on. Development should be progressive. There should be roads everywhere. There should be employment, hospitals, schools all over.

“Five local governments in Borno State do not have good access roads over those places. No access since independence up till now. So where do you get the solution.”

“Same thing in Yobe State, Zamfara and Niger State where you have this issue of kidnapping; Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto. There are so many ungovernable spaces. Until those places are penetrated with roads, rail, amenities, hospitals, schools, we carry everybody along.”

The immediate past Army Boss pointed out the importance of education in areas where Boko Haram and other criminal elements operate, insisting that unless this is addressed, all diplomatic efforts at ending insecurity in the region would fail.

Defending his nomination as a non-career Ambassador by President Buhari, former military top Brass cautioned that the country must get it right internally before expecting cooperation from the international community.

Responding to questions on the morale of the army, he lamented the state of the military when he took over as COAS was bad.

“I met an army that was demoralized. An army that had no equipment, even simple troop-carrying vehicles. In Maiduguri they were using civilian joint task force vehicles to move things for operations. They were using trailers that carry horses, donkeys and cows to move troops from one location to another for operations,” he said.

He revealed that situation had changed by the time he left office such that the force could produce locally made MRAP operations vehicle.

The Ambassadorial nominee called for sustainability, insisting that efforts must be made to ensure that the Army gets more man-power, equipment and resources; even as more efforts must be made on the political and the governance side as well.

“All the stakeholders- the National Assembly has a very good role to play in appropriation and oversight functions, and by ensuring the right things are done, I am sure we will achieve the right success,” he added.

He stressed that Boko Haram has penetrated the North East with its ideologies thereby enjoying the sympathy of the locals.

“In 2015 when I became Chief of Army Staff, our intelligence capacity was terrible. Our intelligence was so low. But today it is first class intelligence for the Army. Our cyber capability has grown.

“Today, there is no formation or unit in the country with better intelligence capacity than the Nigeria Army.

“The impact of my training of officers can only be felt five, six or seven years as they mature and come up and take command of the army,” he said.

On whether the country is employing the right military tactics to defeat the enemy, Buratai said that during his tenure he “changed many concepts in order to conform to the challenges on ground. We cannot continue to use the same tactics, the same procedure over and over again and receiving same results.”

These changes, according to him, is behind the Super Camp Concept, the Mobile Strike Teams and the Special Army Strike Team which are “recording successes in Patskari in the North East and so on.”

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