By John Hosea
There has been quite an upheaval on the operations of the Nigerian Army in Taraba state in recent times. So much so that it portrayed the Nigeria army as having ulterior motives in its activities in Taraba state, especially as it concerns the farmers/herders conflict.
I recall that the Nigerian Army had on numerous occasions denied any form of favouritism in its operations in the state. But some citizens would hear none of it. They went further to allude that the Nigerian Army was taking sides with herdsmen in the state. A claim that was uncharitable and far from the truth.
There was mutual suspicion amongst the various stakeholders, which led to a very unhealthy relationship between the Nigerian Army and the Taraba state government and a large extent did affect the operations of the Nigerian Army in the state. But, all of that, is now history with the renewed partnership for peace and security in the state.
In my opinion, the Taraba state government indeed realized that the Nigerian Army under the present Chief of Army staff could not have been so unprofessional to takes sides with a section of the population, whereas it is constitutionally mandated to protect the territorial integrity of the country. I stand to be corrected, would such a scenario be ever possible in a country as plural as ours? Unless the bulk of the officers and men of the Nigerian Army are from a particular ethnicity or religion before such can be possible. but as they say, let bygone be bygone as we focus on the task ahead.
I am elated and as well of the opinion that with the renewed partnership between the Taraba state government there seems to be an excellent working relationship that has yielded positives in the operations of the Nigerian Army in the state.
The first victory for peace, security and development everywhere in the world is overcoming mutual suspicion and clear understanding of the issues at stake which in the present case is the security of lives and properties of the common masses. And this gives rise to appreciation of the efforts of the Taraba State governor, Darius Ishaku and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen. Tukur Buratai.
While this may not be news to some out there, for some of us in the know of the intricacies that greeted the operations of the Nigerian Army in the state as a result of the misinterpretation of the stance of the Army in securing lives and properties, would readily agree with me that indeed this is a welcome development and worth bringing out the drums.
The centrality of Taraba in North Central Nigeria makes it greater responsibility for the Nigerian Army to ensure a peaceful atmosphere that would bring about the needed development in the state. And this much it has strived to do in recent times, and of course, without the cooperation of the people, there would always be hitches and frictions.
But now that the various stakeholders in the state have come to terms with the invaluable contributions of the Nigerian Army in their area, they have no choice but to extend the needed support the Army needs towards the success of its operations. I am of the opinion that this partnership should not be restricted alone to Taraba state, but other states in the North East like Benue, Nasarawa, and Plateau states that experiences a similarity of security challenges.
I know for a fact the governor of Taraba state Darius Ishaka played a tremendous role in winning the confidence of the stakeholders in the state to extend their support to the Nigeria Army and I also know that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai also ensured that the activities of the Nigeria Army in the state is guided by professionalism. So much so that it was able to win the confidence of a people who were once suspicious of their operations.
That the Nigerian Army was indeed able to rise to the occasion in such an atmosphere of suspicion and all sorts of insinuations from certain quarters and citizens in the state, is a testament of the dynamic leadership of the Chief of Army staff in line with its mandate of Civil-Military relationship.
It is, therefore, sufficing to state that the role of the Nigeria Army in internal and external security in the country cannot be overemphasized given the multitude of security challenges confronting the country. The Nigerian Army has been able to rise to the occasion. However, it must be noted that it’s a product of collective responsibility for such feats to be recorded. The case of Taraba state readily suffices, and that was why I mentioned the need for other states, not just in North Central to key into this partnership because there is nowhere in the world where there can be meaningful development in a state of insecurity.
I commend the governor of Taraba state Darius Ishaku for understanding that good working relationship with the Army is a panacea for the security and lives of the people of the state. I also commend the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai for standing resolute even in the face of provocation, falsehood, and distrust of its operations in the state.
What does this tell us? It tells us that once the head is good, the body would also be useful. This is the case in the Nigeria Army. I could safely say that professionalism and a clear cut understanding of its roles and functions in democratic settings and the need to abide by international best practices were the watch words.
In as much as this is a welcome development, it behoves on the relevant stakeholders in Taraba state to see that this renewed relationship with the Nigeria Army is sustained for peace to continue to reign and which would ultimately bring about meaningful development. And at the end of the day, Taraba and indeed Tarabans would be the greatest beneficiaries.
*Hosea writes from Jalingo.