As Boko Haram terrorists’ group continues to struggle in the last throes of its deserved death, some elements and perceived pessimistic analysts of what is going on in the North East of the country seem to have resorted to the pastime of using what ought to be a commendable situation to question the veracity of the claim of the military to have decimated the brigands and urchins. But it is pertinent to put the whole story in perspective, placing side by side what was and what is today.
To any fair minded observer of the scenario playing out, there is no denying the fact that the army under the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Yusuf Buratai is winning the war on terror. Considering the fact that the command he inherited was battered and the morale of the fighting men dampened by poor or lack of arms and ammunitions to fight insurgency, a situation further worsened by poor welfare packages of soldiers in the battlefront with loads of unpaid salaries and allowances, it is to be understood the impact of the policies of the army high command under the Chief of Army Staff.
Since the coming on board of the present administration in 2015, a lot has changed in the operations of the Nigerian military and, in particular, the army, especially in the morale of the officers and soldiers. Within the military, not just the army, psychological operations is accepted as a potent weapon of warfare, as it offers a unique and powerful asset in military operations, both at peacetime and in war. It takes place through the tactical, operational and strategic environments, which always prove to be useful in combat.
On appointment, Buratai’s mandate was very clear and unambiguous – defeat and terminate the reign of terror in Nigeria. In line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision, whose government is devoted to accountability and prudence, he designed and has consistently implemented a strong ethical culture in military professionalism within the rank and file. And in tandem with the several reforms of the federal government, Buratai also added many reforms aimed at enthroning transparency, accountability, probity and prudent management of resources in the Army.
The vision is to have a good policy plan and to adopt a centralized payroll system that meets the need of the Army and help to plan and manage budget by ensuring proper control of personnel cost. This ultimately engendered the electronic Nigerian Army Personnel Payroll System (e-NAPPS) which is the gateway to the Integrated Personnel Payment System (IPPS).
It is often taken for granted that sound financial management of the military is key to an efficient and effective army capable of responding to legitimate security needs of the people. The regime of probity and accountability put in place under his command made the enlargement of the Army Finance Unit and establishing the Procurement Department for transparency purposes inevitable.
Prior to 2015, for alleged self-serving reasons, the Army High Command then, ignored any attempt at transparency and accountability under the coverage of national security. It erected an opaque wall around defence budget and expenditure. All this changed as the Army High Command under the current Chief of Army Staff, mindful of both concepts of transparency and accountability and in appreciation of the sanctity of national security, found it imperative to strike a balance in the principle of transparency in the military.
The approach was methodical and involved training personnel in ethos and values, which covers corruption. The institution developed an aversion for the malfeasance and domesticated the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and Government Integrated Financial Management Information System policies. These were intended to correct the impediments against speed and integrity of its salaries payment system. The Platform is to keep officials budget-conscious, ensure data base integrity and facilitate easy storage and retrieval.
It is a tradition that the disposition of the Commander do have its own effect on the institution as a whole for good or for bad. The Chief of Army Staff brought his enormous wealth of experience garnered over the years to bear on the moulding of an Army of his dream, transforming it into a professional force that is decent, disciplined and submissive to civilian authorities.
The army adapted the ‘change begins with me” mantra of the federal government and by so doing, propelled the Nigerian Army into an enviable status in the sub region, Africa, and indeed, the world at large.
Sadly, the advent of social media and media globalization has fuelled a wave of criticisms that unfortunately, in our view, spew ignorance to malign a hard fighting force. Rather than speculate, we urge Nigerians interested in knowing the true position of what is going on in the war against terror to take advantage of the media/communication centre of the military which engages the public with accurate and timely information.That is one effective way of ensuring the final death of publicity seeking Boko Haram.