By Sumaila Ogbaje
Institute for Crisis Resolution, Peacebuilding and Conciliation (ICRPC) has conferred the award of Fellowship and Ambassador of Peace on the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, retired Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Buratai also received awards of excellence from six youth organisations and socio-cultural groups including the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN).
The various organistions are the Northern Women Assembly, Tiv Youth Peace Initiative, University of Maiduguri Students Union Government, National Patriotic Youths Against Corruption and Transparency Initiative and the Yoruba Youths Assembly.
The President of the Institute, Mohammed Wakil, while announcing the award during a dinner with Buratai on Saturday, said the two awards were in recognition of former army chief’s selfless service to Nigeria.
Wakil, a former Minister of State for Power under former President Goodluck Jonathan, said that Buratai’s exemplary leadership as army chief played a crucial role in sustaining the corporate existence of the country.
He said that the board also decided to confer on the Ambassador Designate an award of Ambassador of Peace to encourage him to continue to champion peace of Nigeria at all times.
“The General who has served as a Chief of Army Staff for five years in this country fall into that category.
“We have seen in this country what he has done and the institute deemed it feat that he is qualified to be conferred as a fellow and an ambassador of peace.”
The leaders of the groups who presented the various awards extolled the former army chief for his doggedness and professionalism in the fight against terrorism and other security challenges in the country.
The President of NYCN, Mr Solomon Adodo, said the council endorsed all the awards being conferred on Buratai, adding that the commitment of Buratai to one Nigeria was commendable.
Adodo said that the Nigerian Army under Buratai did a lot to defeat the terrorists, adding that the youths were aware that the terrorists would continue to contrive ways to achieve their aims.
He called on the Ambassador Designate to mentor youths in the area of patriotism and the need for peace and unity of the country.
“For us at the NYCN, we held a meeting on April 26 where we deliberated on the whole number of issues affecting our nation.
“One of those issues was about the state of security and also the quest for strong national cohesion, then also some pockets of dissent from some sections of youth across the nation.
“And we deemed it necessary that we need to be engaging the youths positively. We need to have those who have practically garnered experience about issues of security to guide and mentor the Nigerian youth.
“We know today that our greatest challenge is the challenge of security and so we looked at the service records of the former Chief of Army Staff and his vast sea of experience and we deemed it of prime importance that we need such an individual to guide the Nigerian youths,’’ he said.
The youth leader however called on all Nigerian youths to shun violence and work towards national cohesion to ensure peace and stability of the nation.
Responding, Buratai appreciated the various groups for the recognition and awards especially from the youths.
He expressed joy that he was able to provide examples in patriotism, courage, commitment and service through his roles in the last five and half years as chief of army staff.
“I know it has not been easy leading and equally, it has not been easy having to follow a leader who is determined under several pressure and indeed force in some individuals to carry out very risky tasks.
“We did that with all commitment and with all the desire for us to have a peaceful nation and to have our country secured and defend our territorial integrity.
“The recognition is a call for me to serve my country more in whatever capacity I have been put especially now that I am an ambassador designate.
“It is telling me from their various speeches that there is nothing as good as serving your country diligently, loyally with all your heart and all the commitment that goes with them,’’ he said.
The former army chief pledged to continue to provide mentorship to the youths through the Tukur Buratai Centre for Research to imbibe in them the importance of peace and development.
He however tasked youth on patriotism, dedication and loyalty to the course of the nation building and called for collective effort to move the country forward. (NAN)