New Army Chief Spends Sallah With Troops In Yobe | Independent Newspapers Limited
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New Army Chief Spends Sallah With Troops In Yobe

Posted: Jul 17, 2015 at 1:47 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

•  Promises To Sustain Predecessor’s Legacy  We Reduced B’Haram To A Band Of Thieves – Gen. Minimah  Eid-el-Fitr: Buhari, Saraki, Govs Preach Peace

By Chesa Chesa   / Abuja


Nigerian troops on the battlefront with Boko Haram terrorists in the north-east would not celebrate this year’s Eid-el Fitri festivities alone as they are being joined by the acting Chief of army Staff, Major Gen Tukur Buratai.

Gen.  Tukur Buratai

Gen. Tukur Buratai

Gen Buratai who was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, formally took over from his predecessor, Lt-Gen Kenneth Minimah, at a brief handover ceremony held in the Army Headquarters, Abuja on Thursday, proceeded to Damaturu in Yobe State, where he would spend the holiday with the troops.

Before them, he met with President at the Presidential Villa, the first since his appointment, from where he announced his decision to join the troops at the battlefront.

It is the first time that a top brass in any of the three arms of the Nigerian military – Army, Navy and the Air Force – will spare the time to keep company with soldiers at the battlefront during any festivities so as to boost their morale.

Emerging from the meeting with the President, the army chief told newsmen: “I don’t have anything to say for now. I am just a few hours on the job. With time we will be talking some more.

“I am going to Damaturu to spend the Sallah with our troops there”, he told State House correspondents.

At the formal handover ceremony in the Army Headquarters, former Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Minimah, scored the Nigeria Army high, saying that during his tenure, the Nigeria Army was able to frustrate the efforts of Boko Haram insurgents and reduce them to a band of thieves and criminals.

He assured that the strength of Boko Haram was at its lowest ebb and that the group would soon be defeated.

Also speaking at the event, the new COAS vowed to sustain the standard of discipline already established in the Army by his predecessor.

Speaking after the handover, Gen Minimah recalled: “During my tenure, we were able to reclaim all territories earlier lost to the terrorists, sufficiently degrade their potency and reduced them to a band of criminals and petty thieves and we were also able to stabilize the situation in the North Central Zone.

“This success did not come cheap, it came through the sweat and blood of all of us, and in the face of unusual events we had to take unusual actions. Some may adjudge us as being too strict especially in dealing with cases of cowardice and indiscipline in the field, but we had to do what we must to arrest the drift towards chaos that the Army was heading.

“I am happy that the result in the field today justifies our actions; as today, I am leaving behind an Army that can hold its own against any adversary without bating an eyelid, an Army that has vowed never again  to concede any inch of Nigeria to terrorists, and  it is the legacy I am leaving behind and I implore you to sustain it”.

He however regretted that during the push to flush the insurgents, barracks were sacked at random, weapons and ammunition were carted away and innocent civilians were also killed by the terrorists.

He noted that at a point during the fight against the insurgents, the morale of the troops was at its lowest ebb, as according to him, soldiers regularly fled the battlefield on the slightest indication of an approaching adversary.

The situation was no less grim in the North central and North Western regions where armed bandits, cattle rustlers and ethnic militia held sway .

These, according to him, were some of the obstacles they had to surmount under very difficult circumstances as they had to take decisive actions to deal with the menace of terrorism and criminality across the country.

The former COAS, however applauded Nigerians for standing up at very critical times to support their Army and military particularly, during the difficult days when the terrorists appeared to be gaining the upper hand over our military.

“I wish to, in a very special way thank our gallant troops who are in the frontlines, day and night, and under all conditions to ensure that no harm came our way and they are the reason Nigeria is still on its feet today as their courage, perseverance and sacrifice have inspired us in no small way.

“I remain indebted to their selfless service, nationalism and great sense of duty and patriotism ”, said General Minimah.

He expressed joy that he was handing over to General Buratai, whom he described as a seasoned infantry General that he had known and worked closely with in the recent past. “I am confident that he will take the Nigerian Army to greater heights and I urge you to extend the same or even greater measure of support to him for a better future of our Army”, he said.

Responding,   Buratai, vowed to sustain the discipline that his predecessor had already restored in the Nigerian Army, and build on the legacies he inherited.

Buratai  who is the 20th Chief of Army Staff (COAS) disclosed that his posting to Command the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) of the Lake Chad Basin Commission exposed and prepared him for his current position.

He revealed that the task force, which  was billed to take off fully at the end of July, already had an established office, appropriately staffed while necessary operational details were being coordinated for full take off before his current appointment was made.

“I have already issued out my operational directives to all the sector commanders. We were waiting for the 30th of this month for all the national contingents to come under operational command of the MNJTF.  The posting to the Multi-National Joint Task Force was the posting that really brought me out. And I must appreciate you sir (Minimah) for recognizing me to hold that international assignment , Buratia noted.

Meanwhile, President Buhari on Thursday felicitated with muslims on the Eid-el Fitri celebration marking the end of the 30-day fasting season, even as he appealed for patience from Nigerians who think he has not kept to their desired speed since assuming office.

In a message, the president said that redeeming his campaign promises required meticulous planning and execution.

He noted that imbibing Ramadan’s key lessons of self-denial and sacrifice would serve Nigeria well in overcoming the present challenges and undoing the damage done by years of bad governance to accelerate the pace of national development.

President Buhari stressed that great care was needed in the arduous task of evolving corruption-free government institutions so that the selfish group that intends to perpetuate ‘business as usual’ would not seize the opportunity.

Senate President Bukola Saraki, in a statement by his spokesman, Yusuph Olaniyonu, congratulated Nigerian Muslims and their counterparts across the world for the successful completion of this year’s Ramadan fast and celebration of Eid-el-Fitri.

“Muslims in particular should continue to demonstrate the fact that the meaning of Islam is peace and, therefore, we should learn to live in peace with people of other faith and tolerate each other.

“We should also remember our fellow citizens in the North Eastern part of the country who are being assailed by insurgents who call themselves Boko Haram,” he empathised.

Meanwhile, President Buhari said: “I was very aware of your high expectations when I assumed office and I reassure you, my fellow citizens, that since my inauguration on the 29th of May this year, I have been working with utmost dedication to meticulously plan and tackle the many national challenges, which we identified and promised to resolve.

“To succeed, however, I need your continued support, understanding and patience. I fully understand and share the thirst of my long-suffering compatriots for corruption-free government institutions that work efficiently to deliver visible development for the benefit of all citizens.

“There is indeed much work to be done, but we must do it well and carefully to ensure that the great opportunity, which we now have is not lost to the ‘business as usual’ group who selfishly or shortsightedly prefer a status quo that panders to their personal or group interests.”

In his own message, Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, through his Chief Press Secretary, Peter Okhiria, urged Nigerian Muslims to exhibit peace and love in their daily dealings with men of all faith, saying Islam, as a religion of peace, abhors violence in whatever guise.

Also, Oshiomhole’s counterpart in Plateau, Simon Bako Lalong, has called on the Muslim Ummah in the state to use the spiritual lessons learnt during the month of Ramadan for the betterment of humanity as enjoined by Prophet Mohammed (SAW).

Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, through a message by his Chief Press Secretary, Aniagwu Ehiedu, also called on Muslims across the country to use the occasion of Ed-el-Fitr celebration to revisit the culture of peace, unity and love among them.

“Islam is indeed a religion of peace and the true essence of the religion is to unite the entire mankind in love and harmony.  We must all continue to pray and work hard towards building a peaceful, united and prosperous Nigeria.”