By Richards Murphy
Sun Tzu, the Chinese war veteran, strategist and tactician of world repute, throbs military leaders with this enriching warfare philosophy. Its catchy phrase prescribes thus; “What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.”
I know some Nigerians would be surprised at what prodded me to begin the exploration of this piece with this enthralling wisdom of Gen. Sun Tzu. It’s because Sun Tzu remains the most coveted encyclopedia of war shrewdness ever exposed to mankind.
Tzu was somewhat magical, if not prodigiously extraordinary in thoughts and actions. No frustrations or setback of the enemy ever dissolved his resolve and determination to win. It is the innate inclination of a soldier.
Of course, many of us have read the military exploits and adventures of this great Chinese military celeb. All over the world, craggy military officers, who aim at victories in battles, imbibe his wisdom and style in combats. They are inspired by his combat wits, tenacity and valor. They strive to emulate him.
And for three years and more, Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Gabriel Abayomi Olonisakin knows, he is not just the super engine room of President Muhammadu Buhari’s counter-terrorism war in the country. But the march to terminate the reign of Boko Haram terrorism is an assignment, which must be won and splendidly.
His mien all the times, tells me, the CDS cum military strategist is less concerned by setbacks in the counter-insurgency operations. But he is a thousand times concerned with extracting the victory from terrorists, at the cost of anything.
It is indubitable that anywhere wars are fought; there are countless entrapping impediments and challenges, which can cancel even an already won victory. But careful deployment of uncommon wisdom and the utilization of every resource at your disposal earn you the victories.
And I believe, there is no military rendezvous in warfare, which victory comes easy and smooth. Despite Sun Tzu’s versatility in warfare and acclaimed expertise, not all his victories came on platter gold. To be candid to myself, I have a passion for this warrior. What he never consented was a weakened spirit at the battlefront.
At all times and in all circumstances, he was confident victory would descend at dawn undeniably and kept cracking the hardest of nuts. And truly, he got the results in his favour.
But in the course of the usually stiff struggles peculiar to the trenches, I don’t want to believe there were no depressing moments’ or the unexpected never happened, such as troops vehicle accident or death on the warfront. But Tzu’s sheer determination and the courage to succeed kept the candle burning to a victorious end.
I see a facsimile of this resilience in Gen. Olonisakin. When any of his troops is mowed down in battle by enemy forces, it gives him sleepless nights. But it has never enfeebled his determination to the point of surrendering to the enemies of his troops and the nation. Instead, it spurs more grandeur planning and deafening confrontations of the enemies more vehemently.
Throughout the time, I keenly observed the actions and dispositions of the CDS in the engagement of Boko Haram insurgents; no challenge or setback in the prosecution of the war has slackened his pace and focus even for a minute. This is reason the Nigerian military has sustained the winning streaks against terrorists. Insurgents attacks on military formations has now bubbled by a personal revenge in the hearts of troops.
That’s the lesson taught troops by the archetypal Gen. Olonisakin. As a true and inveterate Military General, coordinating and leading counter-terrorism operations in Nigeria deemed one of the world’s most difficult wars has been his passion to end a glorious career.
The CDS has conditioned the minds of his troops to have their eyes fixated on victory; and only victory, at all times, regardless of any obstacle. The CDS knows the whiff of victory is what keeps an Army or a troop going in a battle.
I am glad they have not deviated from this path of glory. And troops have lived it and appear even better at their most tormenting moments; which outsiders like me fear a possible retreat. This is the victorious side of our military, unknown to many of us.
I have observed consistently that whenever Boko Haram terrorists roar against our troops, with such gusto, reenacting their triumphant past, the insurgents deployed for the missions hardly escape unscathed.
We may not know. But many of us have not heard the voice and braggadocio of Boko Haram factional leader, Abubakar Shekau for a long time now. The last time I heard about him was six or so, months ago, when he led his rebellious sect members in tempting Nigerian troops.
The insurgents were not only munched en mass by Nigerian troops, but their Kingpin, Shekau quite possibly escaped with severe injuries. Some reports claim, Shekau has hoed himself in the Cameroonian caves and mountains recuperating. It’s possible he must have died in the course of treatment.
The only factional Boko Haram leader still flexing feeble might is the Musab Al Barnewi faction. But I am sure, fragrance of his day of reckoning have polluted everywhere in the Northeast. I know his waterloo is also near.
And it is one conviction, which has persistently obsessed Gen. Olonisakin. He knows he can do it; the troops are confident that Al Barnewi cannot escape their swords, no matter the hardness of the bulwark he erects around himself.
With ground and air troops at his effective command and control, the CDS is pretty sure, the enemies have; but little chances of survival. Only time is the dividing factor, which he also knows would soon decide in the favor of Nigerian troops and Nigerians. The CDS like the veteran Tzu is aware, “What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations.”
Like Sun Tzu, the CDS knows too perfectly that; “When torrential water tosses boulders, it is because of its momentum. When the strike of a hawk breaks the body of its prey, it is because of timing.”
I appeal to Nigerians to look beyond the outward when assessing our military. We are bound to see the treasures embedded in them which are envied by the world. We must be proud of our possession and our military assets in these troops.
The military gentleman and unstinting professional officer, Gen. Olonishakin is eager to handover to Nigerians the crown and medal victory over Boko Haram terrorism. I read his lips and feel the yearning of a leader who wishes to accomplish this feat as his parting gift to Nigerians before his retirement.
Gen. Olonisakin knows he has an edge over the terrorists, by leading three arms of the Nigerian military. But the insurgents can only dream of repressing or even defeating the Nigerian military.
It’s clear to me, coordinating the security operations across the country, the CDS adheres to Tzu’s caution that “Management of many is the same as management of few. It is a matter of organization.” We shall keep praying for their success fervently.
Murphy is a security consultant based in Calabar
By Richards Murphy