By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
At the instance of the Governor of Osun State Gboyega Oyetola, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen TY Buratai was hosted to a State banquet at Government House Oshogbo on 14 September 2020.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Acting Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, made available on Friday.
It said that the COAS was in Osun State to commission a bailey bridge and a hospital constructed by the Nigerian Army Engineers in collaboration with the Army HQ Department of Civil- Military Affairs for Owu Kuta and Asamu communities respectively in the state.
One of the dignitaries invited by the State Government to the occasion was a former Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Defence Staff, Lt Gen Alani Akinrinade (rtd) who delivered a goodwill message at the event.
In his message, he thanked and commended the COAS for building a bridge at the Osun River that links Kuta, Ikoyi and Ede Communities of Osun State.
He also appreciated the COAS for graciously complimenting the efforts of the State Government who has given public health care priority in the development of the state.
He thereafter, expressed his gratitude to the COAS and his staff for improving Civil-Military Relations by embarking on projects that uplifts the welfare of the population and for including Osun State as a beneficiary.
The former CDS accepted that the COAS and his brother Service Chiefs “are doing their best within the resources the country can make available to them” but admitted that although he had no adequate information outside what the media churn out about what the general situation is in the country, he had two matters which he said are – “throwing him in distress”.
That he wanted the COAS to convey them to the President, Commander-in-Chief. The first matter according to him “is the pervasive public perception/believe (which does not necessarily represent the true position of Mr President) that the President was an ‘ethnic bigot, an irredeemable religious fundamentalist that firmly subscribes and promotes the possibility of his ethnic Fulani to take over the country, which was the reason why he does not interfere in curbing the brigandage of the Fulani herdsmen.”
Furthermore, the elder statesman concluded that going by the perception or believe of the public, the President has performed woefully in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists and that he cannot rise to the occasion when it comes to reflecting the heterogeneous composition of the country in appointments to sensitive positions in his government.
He therefore called on the president to read the riot act against the perpetrators of this mischief.
The second matter according to the former CDS is that sometimes he hears that there are Fulani mercenaries from outside Nigeria being sponsored by some Nigerians.
From what he heard, the situation is so dire that in collaboration with unexpected bad weather this year, a famine is imminent as the country is “already burrowing grains from the ECOWAS countries” because farmers are being forced to abandon their farms”.
He therefore, suggested that the President should “read the riot act to the Fulani herdsmen”.
That it is not acceptable for any foreigner by whatever name to enter Nigeria illegally and molest Nigerians because “they are not welcome”. According to him,” the country should not, by mistake of omission or commission allow Nigerians to degenerate to self-help which is a sure route to anarchy and perdition that will not go away”.
He thereafter accepted that these difficult matters cannot be addressed in abstract as the whole buck stops on the President’s table. He therefore suggested that the President “needs to shape up, read the riot act to our people and enlist them in unswavering cooperation to participate fully in the redemption of their country “.
According to him, since he was sure the President is aware of the hues and cries from all corners and crannies of the country for secession as if the country has not been there before, there is a need for him to “stand on his table against the motley crowd of advisers and take a firm stand on the restructuring of the country, physically, politically, economically and socially”.
He also advocated for the reorganization of the Armed Forces “which is long overdue and over flogged as if it is such an impossibility because it is what is required to move the country out of the doldrums into modernity and cannot afford to pass it on”.
According to him “We may end up without a country, as no country has been known to survive two civil wars. He can take better counsel in the appointment to the sensitive parts of his government. There are capable loyal men and women from every village in the country”. He further advised.
He concluded by profusely thanking the President and the COAS for sorting out the pension scheme for the NA. According to him, Army retirees have stopped the culture of queuing quarterly in the army barracks for recognition and documentation parade.
In his remarks, the Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen TY Buratai thanked Gen Akinrinade (Rtd) for identifying the negative impacts of the social media in spreading falsehood and fake news in the country.
The COAS appreciated the General in identifying the wrong perceptions being projected by the enemies of the country.
He noted that we should not rely on social media reports which are mostly fake and largely unfounded. He further advised the Retired General on the need for statesmen of his caliber to take the pains of verifying information before making conclusions on them.
On the perception of likely famine in the country this year, the COAS Lt Gen TY Buratai assured the gathering that there is no cause for alarm as there won’t be any famine in Nigeria because farmers have gone back to their farms.
Gen Buratai said – “I just left the North West where Exercise SAHEL SANITY is ongoing and many farmers have so far returned to their farms. Our troops are providing security to farmers and the bandits are being dealt with decisively.
“From all indications we are expecting a bumper havest this year”. Gen Buratai further informed that the Nigerian Army and other security agencies are doing everything possible to ensure that the terrorists and bandits are never allowed to cross over to the southern parts of the country.
Gen Buratai also observed that the issue of restructuring is a political matter and he only commented on security issues raised by the retired General. He further reiterated the apolitical stance of the Nigerian Army.
Finally, the COAS implored all to continue to cooperate with the Federal Government and support the ongoing efforts to rid the country of all forms of insecurity.