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Lt Colonel Muhammad Abu Ali was buried on Monday, November 7, 2016, and his death made the Chief of Army Staff cry.

He was killed by Boko Haram on November 4 during an operation in Mallam Fatori, Borno State, in a night attack which led to the deaths of four other soldiers.

Ali was such a fierce fighter and commander that he was feared by the terrorists and highly respected by his fellow soldiers; subordinates and superiors alike.

However, what made him even more special was his decision to repeatedly put his life on the line for a country that did nothing to deserve it.

Ali died for a country in which soldiers on an anti-terrorist mission at night did not have night goggles to identify their targets; he died for a country in which an entire battalion of soldiers is forced to share two pairs of night goggles.

“If you’re going for night attacks, you need your night sight — your night vision goggle — so that you can identify your targets clearly. You know what it means to fight in the dark? Confusion. You don’t know who is who. But I tell you what, there are only two night vision goggles to an entire battalion. In some cases, you will even find a battalion that has no single night vision goggle,” a senior army official told The Cable after Ali’s death.

Another remarkable thing about Lt Col Abu Ali was that he did not have to fight Boko Haram but he chose to.

The brave soldier was the son of former Bauchi State governor, Brigadier General Abu Ali, meaning he could have had strings pulled to ensure that he remained in a cushy office  for the rest of his military career, but he did not.

Abu Ali made the conscious decision to fight Boko Haram in the worst of conditions and with the worst of equipment, yet he showed the terrorists who was boss and has effectively etched his name in the sands of time.

ALSO READ: Soldiers mourn chief warrior and Baga hero, Lt-Col. Abu Ali

The heroic officer’s sacrifice brings to mind the words of former American President, John F. Kennedy “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country.”

Lt Colonel Abu Ali didn’t ask what his country could do for him, instead he asked what he could do for his country, and he did it, he did it very well.

As we remember and honour Abu Ali’s memory, it is perhaps time for us to ask one another “My fellow Nigerians, what can you do for your country?"

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