Apr. 9, 2014
Nigerian combat troops drafted to Borno have expressed trepidation over the successful killing of a respected troop commander, Col. Kabiru Salisu in an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) this Monday.
The APC’s are battle troop transport vehicles which the army use and believe should protect them from artillery attack, however Boko Haram fire-power was able to set the APC on fire, killing the Commander and other troops in the vehicle, raising fears as to the safety and efficacy of the equipment at the disposal of the Nigerian army.
Much of the army equipment today is outdated, due to a chronic history of government corruption, with vehicles used having been purchased since the Shagari regime in the early 80’s. The government is more interested in acquiring private jets; which the current president has 10 of and included the purchase of an eleventh in the just approved budget.
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I never believed I was (if ever) going to be writing a tribute to you my friend, at least not so soon. I remember our first meeting in Sokoto when you came for training as an instructor with some group of soldiers and Ataks (as u fondly refer to him). I was asked to vacate the house by my guardian so you could stay in the house. U came in at night so I didn’t get to see your face properly cos it was dark, I was told that you were a Lt. Col then. I had to even cook for you that night, but guess what? When I came in the morning to get the plates, I discovered that u didn’t even touch your food. I was mad! U apologised, gave me the keys so I could get some water and tidy the house.
I felt sad leaving my comfort zone for corpers lodge. I was surprised to see such a young Lt Col, U only smiled n Said ‘Thanks’. U requested for my pin n I gladly gave you. Days rolled by n we became friends that even got tongues wagging but we didn’t care.
Finally, Your training came to an end n U left for Jaji but that didn’t deter our friendship. I remember a whole lot of things we did together. Remember that Akpos jokes that got us reeling with laughter like fools n many others? U were such a great father to your kids n a wonderful husband to your wife.
I was glad when you told me about your promotion to the rank of a Colonel just before your birthday in November. I was proud of you! I told you that and u asked me to pray for you for a good posting’ and said ‘ Becks, u won’t regret knowing me’
February, we met briefly by the filling station. I gave you a book n then you drove off for your lectures promising we’d see ‘soon’. I was so busy that I postponed my visit to Jaji. Weeks later, you dropped the bombshell; You’ve been posted to Maiduguri. I screamed but you assured me that all will be fine, I promised seeing you before you leave but I didn’t. The pressure was so much that you were asked to leave earlier than scheduled. On your way to Maiduguri from Yola, your were ambushed but nothing happened to you. Two nights ago, I prayed for you and even mentioned your name not knowing you were lying dead in the bush.
Oh death ,why? We sure will miss you. Your wife, family, your kids Kariri and Bubu will surely miss you. Rest on gallant soldier, you didn’t die in vain. You ‘served with pride’. Rest on Col Kabir Salisu. My friend and mentor.