by Usman Alabi
Many would agree with me that it is long the Ballads sang praises of a Nigerian soldier for his bravery on the battle front; I can’t remember the last time I heard of the bravery of Nigerian soldiers. The story we are used to is that of men with inferior weapons who despise the battle front and take to their heels at the sight of the enemy. But the late Lt. Col Abu Ali shattered that perception and finally gave us a concrete reason to sleep with our two eyes closed when he marched with the Nigerian Army against the terrorists.
There has not been any story of bravery of a Nigerian soldier which evokes much passion and emotion in recent times than that of Lt. Col. Muhammed Abu Ali. Never in history has the death of a soldier brought such deep emotion to the nation as a whole; and not only that, it has also given us a reason to believe in Nigeria and unite against a common enemy.
The Late Muhammed Abu Ali was born in Lagos state on the 15th of August 1980 (his parents hail from Kogi state|). He attended Army Children’s School in Maiduguri, and Command Secondary school in Jos. He enrolled into the Nigerian Defence Academy in 1998 and became a commissioned officer in 2003. He got married in 2008 to his wife whom he met in Kaduna and they are blessed with three children, Fatima, Amir and Yasim.
Ali led one of the fiercest battles ever with Boko Haram in February 2015 which led to the recapture of Baga town in Borno State. He was given accelerated promotion from the rank of major to lieutenant- colonel in September 2015 for his courageous and exceptional performance in a series of army engagement with the Boko Haram terrorists.
We have learned that his exploits started from Yola, in Adamawa from where he was moved to Borno, He and his battalion were later moved to recover Monguno and later Konduga which were considered dreaded areas of battle. He was also said to be instrumental to the recovery of Pulka and eventually Gwoza.
According to one of the soldiers who was part of the Baga operation, he explained his experience to the Cable news online medium thus: “In the case of Baga, when it was recaptured from Boko Haram, Abu Ali, who led that operation, told the soldiers that they should not worry, that they should only do five percent of the job, that he was going to do 95% of the job with the tanks,” he had said.
“And that was exactly what happened. He did most of the work with the tanks. He was a major at that time and his promotion after the operation was automatic because he performed very well. One smallish guy like that o.”
He is popularly called “Sarkin Yaki”, an Hausa word for Chief Warrior, his friends call him “Slim”. He was the commanding officer of the 272 Task Force Battalion at Mallam Fatori in Northern Borno.
Ali was a recipient of the Chief of Army Staff Award for exceptional bravery and excellence and was described by many of his colleagues as “the face of the campaign against Boko Haram which embodied commitment, loyalty, service and hope for a better, peaceful and prosperous nation.” The Army Authorities in a statement said Abu “served the Nation with unwavering commitment and dedication, paying the ultimate price so that millions can sleep on their beds in peace.”
He is a patriot per excellence who served the nation with unrepentant commitment; he was an unusual source of inspiration to his men, an uncommon Nigerian soldier with a towering bravery and a heart of steel, a terror to the terrorist. Abu epitomizes the true Nigerian spirit.
Lt.col Abu fell in an ambush by Boko Haram on Friday, November 4, 2016.
Nigerians would continue to remember the late Abu who paid the ultimate sacrifice for us to have peace.