THE Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai says it is heart-warming that he has within two years led the Army in turning the battle tide against Boko Haram terrorists, BHTs, who he said were in full control of about 14 local government areas in Borno State as at June 2015.
He pointed out that this is as a result of his appointment and the support of President Muhammadu Buhari for the military, adding that his appointment came at a time morale of Nigerian Army troops was at its lowest ebb and the battle tide was almost in favour of the terrorists.
Buratai made this remarks on Monday while declaring open a Retreat for Past Commanders of the on-going Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Insurgency Operations in the Northeast at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre, Abuja.
His words: “As we are all aware, the emergence of the Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) led insurgency that began in 2009 in the North-East has been one of the most daunting national security challenges that have threatened and undermined the peace and security of Nigeria.
“The activities of the Group have inflicted overwhelming negative and destructive consequences on human lives, property, infrastructure and development in the entire landscape of North-Eastern (NE) Nigeria.
“The situation was so bad when I was appointed COAS in June 2015 that about 14 local government areas in Borno State were under the full control of the BHTs. Furthermore, their activities have reduced the socio-economic activities in the states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe almost with concomitant hardship on the citizenry.
“This national security challenge that the BHTs pose to the Nigerian State informed Mr President’s directive to the Armed Forces to end the Boko Haram menace in three months from when he was sworn-in in May 2015.
“Additionally, I took over the mantle of leadership at a time troops morale in the NA was at its lowest ebb and the battle tide almost in favour of the BHTs. The need to swiftly respond to this challenge informed the fashioning of my mission statement which is “to have a professionally responsive NA in the discharge of its constitutional roles”.
“I am glad to say that Commanders have all keyed in to this vision, with the resultant effect of a change in battle tide against the BHTs, which led to the successful degradation of their military capability to hold any portion of the Nigerian territory.
“In the same vein, with the support of the Commander in Chief (C-in-C), despite the economic downturn, we have recorded significant achievements in improving the welfare of troops particularly those in the frontline in particular and the entire NA in general”.
The Army chief expressed the commitment of the nation’s military to ensure that the normalcy that has returned to the North-East is sustained, and urged the armed forces to remain vigilant as “asymmetric warfare has become a defining feature of the 21st Century security challenges that we will be contending with”.