It is already a year since Colonel Muhammed Abu Ali died during an attack by Boko Haram on the 272 Task force Battalion in Borno, which is at the heart of the current insurgency against the ‘evil’ terrorist sect. Abu Ali, before his death had enjoyed accelerated promotion from the rank of Major to Lieutenant Colonel in the Nigerian army, not because of his state of origin but simply for exceptional bravery displayed in the war front in the fight against Boko Haram. Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, while decorating Abu Ali with his new ranks described him as a man of “courage, bravery and exceptional performance in the fight against Boko Haram.”
Abu Ali lived a brave soldier and died a brave soldier fighting to defend his fatherland against ravaging evil forces. He led the fight that resulted in the recapture of Baga in Borno from Boko Haram. He was reputed to have told his soldiers, ahead of the move to recapture Baga, not to worry. He promised that with his tank, he would do 95 percent of the job. They are to do the remaining five percent. And he lived up to his words as he sent the enemy parking, almost alone. He repeated the same feat with Monguno, another Boko Haram stronghold.
Abu Ali was so effective that the demand for his accelerated promotion did not come from army headquarters. It came from the soldiers on the field, who saw in him an effective leader who led from the front rather than from the back. His style of leadership inspired so much confidence that soldiers were ready to follow him where ever he was posted to in the war front. He was described on the field as a man “who knows his job.” Abu Ali earned the confidence of his men and was the pride of every soldier on and off the war front. He was a man destined for the very top of the Nigerian army. Sadly, that was not to be. On November 4, 2016, Abu Ali died in action as any brave soldier would want to. He died fighting the evil he would not tolerate living.
One year on, we remember this brave soldier and the many other unknown soldiers who have stood their ground against the evil called Boko Haram. They have paid the supreme sacrifice to make us safe as a nation and to them we are eternally grateful.
It is important that the army shows the gratitude of the nation by ensuring that the families of these brave soldiers are not left stranded. Everything should be done to reduce the pain that comes with such irreplaceable loss. It is sad to hear of the families of these soldiers struggling to get the allowances due to them. It should not be the case. But it is even more important that those still in the war front are adequately taken care of. The stories we have heard of soldiers begging for food and their allowances should never be.