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General Irabor: The Conqueror of Sambisa

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By Ibrahim Uba Yusuf
Soldier come, Soldier go barrack remains is a familiar military expression that constantly reminds all serving military men that at anytime you maybe posted out from a particular formation, battalion or operation. On the 8th May, 2017, people woke up with a surprising but shocking news on the shake up in the Nigerian Army which saw the redeployment or rather upgrade of a finest and professionally conducted General of our times, Lucky Irabor to the Multi National Joint Task Force with headquarters in Ndjamena, Tchad Republic. Irabor, a two star general has commandeered the Theatre Command Operation Lafiya Dole for 15 months and he is replacing Major General Lamidi Adeosun.
On assumption of duty as the third Theatre Command, General Irabor who is conversant with the volatile terrain of North East, adopted a more robust approach in the Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism Operation. Importantly, his inputs, drawing experience as a student of International Relations, Electrical Electronic Engineer and a seasoned signaler, saw the formation of Operation Lafiya Dole.
He was active in taking the war to the insurgents at their known hideouts which hitherto appears to be ‘no go area’. The dreaded spiritual Boko Haram base-Alagarno was seized by the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole. Then, Alagarno was a strong hold and strategic to the notorious Sambisa Forest. He broke the jinx, penetrated the base, dislodged it andmade huge recoveries including several violently abducted women and children.
The fall of Sambisa as Xmas gift. Camp Zairo, was believed to be as the headquarters of the terrorists. Thanks to Irabor, who successfully gave the troops the required leadership that led to the fall of the household name Sambisa forest. Today, the forest has been turned into a training ground.
Reopening of Major Roads
History has well documentated the reopening of strategic roads serving as window from Nigeria to other neighborhoods. We witnessed the Sallah gift Maiduguri-Gamboru Ngala road inauguration, the Maiduguri Mobbar road and Gwoza-  Madagali roads were equally reopened. This is a feat achieved under the reign of General Irabor, owing to successful liberation of the villages and towns followed by subsequent return of people back to their abodes.
108 FM got a Boost
The nascent Nigerian Army Radio, used in the counter insurgency and counter terrorism campaign was his idea. It took off in a skeletal form though the blueprint was excellent. At an initial stage, the radio station signals are limited to the central and few areas within the metropolis. As a signaler, he is leaving a legacy of upgrading the radio signals and provision of digitized equipment to meet contemporary challenges. As a pioneer and erthwhile Manager of the station, I attest to the fact he did his best in all ramification to give us a habitable working environment. Those that worked with him knows his humility, doggedness and accepts No as an answer.
The creation of harmonious working relationship between the military and civilians as well as para military in Maiduguri has added value to this astute General. Perhaps that is why the news of his redeployment was welcomed with shocked. People of Borno so much value and appreciate his contributions for tirelessly ensuring they sleep with two eyes closed. The encomiums showered on him Is a testimony of how honourable he was during his stay in Maiduguri.
Recently, while inaugurating the newly refurbished Wolf
Officers Mess Maimalari Barracks in Maiduguri, Borno State, the number one soldier of the Nigerian Army Lt Gen Tukur Buratai said: “I want to acknowledge the
Theater Commander who has been quite dynamic in mobilising all troops under him”.
Below is an excerpt from a Facebook post on the man of the moment:
Dr Abubakar Muazu, senior lecturer with the Department of Mass Communication, University of Maiduguri said: “A fine general by any standard, a committed officer. A master strategist in the mould of a true general. General Irabor is taking on a higher responsibility. Our prayers are with him.
Chiroma Usman, former Caretaker Chairman Maiduguri Metropolitan Council opined that: “we are really going to miss a real gem. We hope his successor will match his style of leadership. He has transformed the command to meet contemporary challenge”.
Galadima Mohammed Kauji noted that “Gen Leo Irabor has justified to the people of Borno that he is for humanity and a detrabilized Nigerian. I cherished his articulation whenever he addresses the press”.
Aisha Umaru Madagali observed that ” Gen Irabor is a real soldier who knows the ethics of his profession. He has done what many even from among the North can’t do”.
Before I end this piece, I must acknowledged the doggedness of General Irabor, who refused to compromised after arresting the then Caretaker Chairman of Mafa, Shetima Lawan Maina alleged to be harboring Boko Haram terrorists despite pressure from ‘cabals’ for his release. This among many other breakthroughs achieved are highly appreciated. As you take up this higher but more challenging responsibility, I am optimistic you are up to the task. You shall leave long and in good health. God will continue to guide and protect you in all your endeavors. You have left a legacy. We remain indebted to you.
Ibrahim Uba Yusuf writes from Maiduguri and can be reached on

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