For every discerning and patriotic mind, the catalogue of happenings in the country over the past few weeks is a pointer that there is a surreptitious battle for the soul of our dear country, albeit for selfish, inordinate reasons.
From nowhere, the #EndSARS protest, whichfirstappearedasalegitimatecryagainst the brutality of the police, swiftly transformed to be a springboard for anarchy, insurrection, and propaganda against the Nigerianstateand some responsive state institutions.
From Lagos to Osun, Cross River, Plateau, Kogi and other states in the country, the enemies of the country unleashed their coordinated attacks and mayhem to end the Nigerian project, aiming to drag Africa’s most populous country to the abyss of the Civil War where the likes of Mali, Sudan, Somalia are still trying to making effort to crawl out.
Aside from the devilish killings, looting, arson, unrest, attack on police units and formations, as well as government and private concerns, was, to say the least, most despicable.
At a point, they almost had their way, and that was scary. Thankfully, the timely and professional intervention of the Nigerian Army and other security agencies truncated the evil plot. Of course, the evil merchants and their sympathizers, decided to stand logic on its head through politicking and turn a blind eye to the laudable and timely intervention of the military to return sanity and ensure citizens return to their normal life.
They made effort to demonise the Nigerian Army before the very people, they are serving and defending. Interestingly, Nigerians have started see ing through the smokescreen of falsehood and deliberate misrepresentation of facts. The people now know better who is truly on their side and that the army was being falsely held responsible for the activities of the miscreants and subversive elements.
The orchestrated attempt against the military even got robed with international outfit when threats of travel ban and prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC) started flying from the very partisan interests who saw their ingenious plans to destabilise Nigeria crash like a pack of cards.
Buttheindefatigableandpatriotic Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, couldn’t be cowed by such cheap blackmail in the course of his legitimate duties and service. “They have continually threatened to report the NA to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and also threatened various forms of sanctions against personnel and their families.
“Criminal elements are threatening us with travel ban but we are not worried because we must remain in this country to make it better.
The first time I travelled outside of this country, I was already 50 years and a General, so I don’t mind if I live the rest of my life here,” the Army Chief said recently at a conference with Army Commanders in Abuja.
Let it be clear, the Lekki toll gate incident of October 20 was a deliberate plot planned to make Nigeria go out of control and ungovernable. It was designed by subversive elements to embarrass President Muhammadu Buhari and ridicule the Nigerian Army. More astounding in the heinous plot was the role of the self-appointed global human rightswatchdog, Amnesty International, who has continued to exhibit glaring partisanship against Nigeria in its reports.
I submit that AI has lost its credibility, if it had any at all. Does it not beat any imagination that despite attestations and absence of credible evidence, AI is still insisting that protesters were attacked and killed at the Lekki toll gate by the Nigerian Army? This allegation, like others, only resides in the figment of the imagination of AI and its sponsors on Nigerian soil.
Another area of interest on the lips of Nigerians is the prejudiced manner by which the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution has been carrying itself especially with its glaring move to work to an answer by indicting the Army. What has the committee set up to investigate abuses committed by the defunct SARS got to do with the Nigerian Army?
It’s a no-brainer that the visit of the members of the panel to the Nigerian Army Reference Hospital and the mortuary on Friday October 30 allegedly to find corpses of #EndSARS victims, is a grand design to desperately find a scapegoat in the Army. Is the panel trying to manufacture evidence to indict the Army?
This is calling on stakeholders, elders and leaders in the country to try as much as possible to insulate the Army from this sheer irresponsible politicking which would not serve the nation any good. The Nigerian Army must not be dragged by the same frivolities and mischief which has led to the situation we currently experience with the Nigerian Police Force and of course triggered the thunderous calls for reformation.
This ill-wind of sheer irresponsible politicking blows no one any good. We are all aware that the Nigerian Army is already preoccupied with tackling insecurity, banditry and kidnapping and it would be counter-productive to be distracted by all these inanities.
No doubt, General Buratai and his men are committed to protecting the nation’s fledgling democracy and that much has been exhibited at every turn of event. As a Service Chief under the administration of President Buhari, who is an apostle of excellence, itisnotsurprisingthattheCOAShas wholeheartedly embraced the change agenda and is driving the Army along that line.
Except for those with ulterior motive and bias, all can see how General Buratai has repositioned the Nigerian Army and it is now better placed to face contemporary security challenges and fit into the democratic setting, which has been firmly entrenched in the country.
For all it is, the Nigerian Army under General Buratai, though in the throes of few security challenges, has remained resolute and committed to maintaining the territorial integrity of the borders as well as keeping the nation one and democracy intact.
Perhaps, the highly celebrated journalist, Don Yeager, had the likes of General Buratai in mind when he said: “Sometimes legends find themselves remembered more for what they have not done than for their accomplishments.”
Nigerians must fight for the preservation of the ideals and image of the Nigerian Army which has remained committed despite all odds to sustain our nascent democracy. We must support, encourage and honor them for their professionalism and patriotism.
• Oba Oyelude, Tegbosun III, is the Olowu of Owu Kuta and Chairman Supreme Council of Owu Obas and Chiefs