The Nigerian Army has approved the promotion of 5,000 soldiers fighting Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East and others involved in similar operations, as part of steps to boost their morale.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, made the announcement on Monday in Abuja, at the opening of the 2015 Chief of Army Staff Third Quarter Conference, held at the Army Headquarters Conference Hall.
Buratai said the promotion of the soldiers was one of the many measures introduced by the Army under his command to boost troops’ morale and reposition its operations.
He added that it was also in line with the vision of the Army command to reward gallant troops in any way deemed fit to boost their combat readiness and willingness to serve their fatherland.
He said that troops serving in the North-East and in other operations in the country would regularly receive rewards from the Army’s high command for their selfless service to the nation.
The COAS said, “Since we came on board, we have introduced several measures aimed at encouraging our troops to give their best in the service of their nation.
“The approval of the accelerated promotion of 5,000 soldiers was to redeem the promise made by my predecessor to the troops fighting insurgents in the North-East.
“It is my belief that this promotion, coupled with other incentives, will encourage our troops to fight for our country.’’
Buratai said that the Army, under his watch, had recorded major successes in the fight against insurgency as well as improved on its human rights credentials and the welfare of troops.
He said that his vision of entrenching professionalism and bequeathing a combat ready Army to the nation was on course as commanders and troops had been fully briefed to key into the vision.
He warned commanders and senior officers to guard against acts that could undermine efforts of the present administration to rebuild the image of the Army.
“You will all agree with me that the renewed breath of change flows directly from the President in his directive to our operations and other directive on his vision for the Army.
“I therefore demand that you all react with corresponding appropriateness with regard to the directive because majority of our requirements within the limited period has been provided for,” he said.
The COAS gave all Army officers and soldiers December 15, 2015 deadline to shape up or face the medical board for the appropriate disciplinary actions.
Meanwhile Buratai has said that the military was still searching for the over 200 secondary schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, on April 14, 2014.
He said that the troops had been engrossed in the operation to flush out the insurgents in order to free the Chibok girls from captivity, saying he believed the abducted girls could still be in the forest within the shores of the country.
He added that the Nigerian Air Force and other security agencies, including the Department of State Services, were all involved in the efforts to track the abducted girls.
He said, “The issue of the Chibok girls is very crucial; we are making every effort to see that we clear the terrorists and rescue the girls in peace.
“Despite the progress that is occurring in the theatre of operation, we know that the girls are somewhere; we are suspecting that they are somewhere but we are not yet sure where they are.
“As soon as this is concluded, we will attempt to see what we can do to bring them back in peace. We will continue to work with the mandate of the President to end the insurgency.
“If we don’t see them, then, we can refocus more seriously on other areas. We still believe that the girls will be somewhere within the general area of the forest.”
Buratai assured Nigerians that the Sunday explosions in Maiduguri, Borno State, would be among the last few that would be counted before the end of insurgency in the country.
He said, “The blasts are among those that would be the last in this issue. We will start counting very few before we get to the end of this issue. We have knocked them off around Yobe and southern Borno.
“We believe it came out from the central; we are zeroing in on those areas. Immediately it happened, we gave a directive that we should comb the area thoroughly. We have knocked them off in northern Borno. The unfortunate incident is only giving us a lead as to where they are coming from. You can see that it has reduced drastically since we came on board.”