A soldier and a patriot: The life of Attahiru
Title: The Man, The Soldier, The Patriot
Author: Niran Adedokun
Foreward: Fati Attahiru
Publisher: Cable Books
Year of Publication; 2022
The book, titled, The Man, The Soldier, The Patriot, is a volume on the late Lt General Ibrahim Attahiru, the 21st chief of Army Staff (COAS). It is a celebration of a man who did all within his power to serve his country, the Nigerian Army, his family and humanity in the few years God granted him to live.
As a completely detribalised Nigerian, he lived, spoke and acted patriotically in all he did and wished to end the Boko Haram in his lifetime, a mission he could not accomplish as he died in a military crash in the course of duty alongside 10ten other officers and men of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Authored by Niran Adedokun, the book, which has been deservedly eulogised by Fati Attahiru in her forward has five chapters. It also has a prologue, an epilogue, postscript, tributes, pictures, an appendix and an index.
The book opens with a prologue, which takes its reader into what transpired before Attahiru embarked on the trip that cut short his career and dreams.
Chapter one talks about his early life in the Military Academy as a member of the 35th Regular Course. His father had wanted him to become a soldier but did not see him achieve this, a wish made possible by his foster parent, Hajia Gammadi, who saw him through Rimi College to Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), where he maintained a blemish-free record of discipline, dedication and commitment to tasks. He was commissioned into the infantry corps of NDA in December 1988 as a Second Lieutenant ready to live and fight for Nigeria.
Chapter two is about his command. He was mentored by Lt. Col Hassan Mama Lai. He commanded ECOMOG Force in Liberia and impacted his men and team, taking their welfare seriously. Appointed GOC 82 Division at the peak of the agitation of the separatist groups of IPOB and MASSOB. He was also a commander of 13 Brigade, Calabar.
Chapter three chronicles his love for his men and family even as a soldier. In one of his visits to his men in the theatre of war, he made them recapture territories taken by insurgents within 48 hours with a promise to address their challenges. The soldiers took up the gauntlet and fulfilled their chief’s desire. To his wife and children, Attahiru was more than a husband and a father and a friend whom they adored.
Chapter lists his command. In May 2017, he became the Theatre Commander of Operations Lafiya Dole- the central counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operation of the Nigerian Army in the North East succeeding General Lucky Irabor. Three men commanded before him. He collaborated with the community leaders, trade unions, and groups to achieve success. He ordered combat equipment and kept Nigerians informed on non-classified activities in the Theatre. He was removed in December 2017.
Chapter five describes what happened after his redeployment to TRADOC. It was from here he was appointed COAS while Irabor became CDS. The chapter also discusses the politics and legality of his appointment and those of other service chiefs. As COAS, he made new appointments, which was a bold statement of intent and desire to purge the army of any ethnic or regional biases. Welfare of his men was top on his agenda.
In the epilogue, the author describes in detail the last-minute account of Attahiru’s activities before he boarded an Airforce flight to Kaduna. His planned meetings with two of his friends, and his mentor were never to be. It also describes the difficulty the pilot encountered as he tried to land at the NAF Base, Kaduna. He described in vivid terms how the tension gripped passengers and said their last prayers before the crash and how their bodies, including that of Attahiru, were identified and retrieved.
In the postscript, tributes poured in from all over the nation. From the presidency to governors, legislature, professional bodies, religious groups, embassies and diplomats. As tributes poured in, arrangement for their burial was in place. They were interred at the Military Cemetery Abuja, where 29 years ago, Attahiru performed his duty at the funeral of 159 officers who died in the Nigerian Airforce Lockheed C-130 Hercules crash in Ejigbo, Lagos.
The author’s deployment of language in this biography makes it an interesting reading. He describes Attahiru’s life as provocative fate and Deja Vu.
Another strong point of the book is the smartness with which he incorporates the prologue and the epilogue. It makes the narration vivid of what Attahiru did before and during the flight and what transpired after the crash.
It is an arrestive and very easy-to-read biography with bold character print. Once you start reading, you don’t want to put the book down until you have finished.
The book also has pictorial events, awards, and certificates of Attahiru who was described as an ambitious, committed and dedicated soldier. He was an excellent communicator. No wonder even as a combatant he became the Army spokesperson. He was described as an incorruptible and detrabalised Nigerian. His tenure has been the shortest in Nigeria’s history as Chief of Army Staff has spent 114 days (Janury 26-May 21, 2021.)
Attahiru was born on August 10, 1966, in Doka, Kaduna North local govt area of Kaduna State.