COAS says protecting country territorial integrity is a must, seeks soft, more proactive approach

Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai
Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai

By Ado Hassan, Sokoto

The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai has said that the Nigerian armed forces must bear in mind that they owe the country the noble task of protecting its territorial integrity while being proactively involved in aid of the civil authority as their prime responsibility.

Similarly, the COAS said the Nigerian Army and indeed the Armed Forces have attained great feats in the fight against the insurgents, breaking their ranks and degrading their will to fight even as he enjoined them to employ not only the conventional approach but also spiritual or religious strategy to win the fight using clerics.

Though he said the insurgents’ belief in their ideologies remain the driving force thereby making ideological battle in some ways very necessary and timely.

Buratai who spoke in Sokoto Tuesday while declaring open the 2019 annual Armed Forces combined Chaplains’ Training Week/Conference and Retreat by the Directorate of Chaplain Services(Roman Catholic) noted that the country and indeed the world indeed grappling with the harsh reality of restiveness mostly sounded with religious, economic and political undertones.

” These tendencies have caused disorder and wanton destruction of lives and property to many innocent citizens who have continued to look unto the government for solace”, he pointed out.

According to the COAS represented by the Director, Civil Military Affairs, Army Headquarters, Brigadier General Timothy Olowomeye as the Special Guest of honour at the all important retreat conducted at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, St. Bakhita Catholic Secretariat, Sokoto said the armed forces had consistently engaged with the religious directorate on possible proactive measures to help in winning this fight against the various forms of restiveness in the country.

Accordingly Buratai further acknowledged with passion the choice of the theme of the retreat/conference “The Non-Kinetic Strength in the face of Armed Banditry and other Security Challenges: The Role of the Military Chaplains” as a step forward and became very relevant in the current battle.

He added” the choice location for this event being the Northwest also means you are in tandem with the efforts of the Government in quelling the teeming security challenge of Armed banditry which is prevalent in this region.”

In the same vein, he said a responsive collaborative strategy had always being maintained and strengthened between the Directorates of Civil Military Affairs (DCMA) and the three (3) Religious Directorates in a bid to alter the narrative that has plunged the nation into the current precarious state of affairs.

” As recently as 30 Sept. this year, you were involved in a joint seminar on Spiritual Warfare as an effective means against insurgency and other forms of restiveness. In that seminar, I stated that Boko Haram and the likes cannot be defeated by kinetic military warfare alone. Finding appropriate counter-narratives against those of these violent extremist sects will immensely be a big push towards eradicating their negative activities in Nigeria”, he recalled.

While explaining that the federal government, under the watch of President Mohammadu Buhari, has continued to offer succour and renewing the hope of her citizens through the relentless efforts of the Armed Forces and other security agencies, expressed appreciation to the leadership of the catholic denomination and the religious organization for keeping kept you as one notwithstanding the seeming variance of your Military Service of engagement.

He hitherto, described the choice of Northwest as host was a demonstration of deliberate commitment adding that ” it means you are in tandem with the efforts of the Government in quelling the teeming security challenge of Armed banditry which is prevalent in the region.”

According to Buratai, ” It is a thing of joy that the Training Week/Conference is premised on the key roles that clerics have to play in producing appropriate narratives required to counter the ideologies of these religious terror groups.

” Therefore, is my prayer and hope that you remain professionally responsive in executing your roles within the ambits of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as you seek to achieve the good intentions of these initiatives for our common good.”

Earlier, Coordinator, Catholic Pastoral activities and Director, Army Chaplain Services, Brigadier General (Very Rev. Fr.) Charles Chidebere said” the retreat was tuned to enable responsive assessment of our functions through the year with a view to re-arming ourselves towards improving lb nthe success recorded and restrategising for the coming year.

He also noted that the insecurity challenges and economic reality were not only peculiar to Nigeria but the globe just as he observed that the country had always proven it strength and capacity as capable a force in the face of the myraids of worries bedevilling the nation.

However, Olowomeye said the theme of the conference /retreat was aptly and deliberately chosen to further prepare and equip the chaplains not immuned to the worrisome security trend to also realise their respective roles of administering barracks churches as key in employing soft approach towards crisis management.

He however, said ” Crime is never a solution to economic difficulties. So, it becomes an imperative to prod a reaction from all vanguard of peace as the crime rate reaches such disturbing level it is at now, hence all hands must be on deck.”

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