Sustaining Buhari’s reforms in the Nigerian Armed Forces

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By Idoko Ainoko

In Nigeria today, the Nigerian Armed Forces under the leadership of General Abayomi Olonishakin can best be described as top notch. I recall when I attended a strategic session on institutionalizing the reforms in the Nigerian Armed Forces at Chatham House in the United Kingdom, the bulk of the speakers did commend the efforts of the Nigerian Armed Forces in the fight against terrorism and other security threats that the country is faced.

These are no mean feat by all indications. And this is where the dexterity and leadership acumen of the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin comes to focus. Those in the know of the rot in the Armed Forces before 2015 would marvel at the various policies that have been introduced towards ensuring that our military stays true to its constitutional mandate and values.

I have long admired General Abayomi Olonishakin for the way and manner he has conducted himself since 2015. Some say he is the unseen hand behind the successes recorded by the Nigerian military in the fight against Boko Haram. Some call him the strategist and one who loathes limelight.

For those in the know of the operations of the Nigerian Military, would readily tell that the Chief of Defence Staff is such an ingenious individual that pays attention to details and leaves no stone unturned when formulating operational policies of the Nigerian Armed Forces. This much can be seen in the way and manner the Nigerian military has carried on the fight against insurgency and other security threats that pose serious security concerns in the country.

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The mere fact that our security agencies curtailed the activities of militant organizations such as the Indigenous People of Biafra and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria is indeed a testament of how hard the Chief of Defence Staff has worked in ensuring that there is operational synergy amongst the services that constitute the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

This didn’t happen overnight or by magic. I firmly believe that the relevant military authorities channelled conscious efforts in the form of formulating and executing strategies that would stand the test of time. I am also of the opinion that rebuilding the Armed Forces Institutions in Nigeria was a necessity when President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as President in 2015.

This was so because we were all witness to the rot in the system that was on the verge of imminent collapse. Corruption reigned supreme, and the number of casualties suffered by the Nigerian troops was in high numbers. And indeed that was when there was a lack of patriotism and reluctance by soldiers at the battlefront to confront the Boko Haram insurgents.

Even the top hierarchy of the armed forces was equally complicit in the rot that engulfed the system where monies earmarked for arms and ammunition ended up in private pockets. But all of these have indeed changed for the better with improved welfare for troops in the battlefront, accountability and transparency have been entrenched, and morale of the soldiers boosted to confront the various security challenges in the country.

And Nigeria is indeed better for it. This is why I have always told all that cared to listen to that, but for the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria would have either gone up in flames, or we would have seen a return to military rule. Yes, it was that bad.

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But thank God for the quality of appointments in the Armed Forces led by General Abayomi Olonishakin, whose tenure as Chief of Defence Staff has seen to the rejuvenation of our Armed Forces and also seen to the multiple inroads the Nigerian Armed Forces as recorded in the quest to keep Nigeria safe and secured.

Two things can be used to explain how things turned around for good. The first is loyalty. Loyalty in the sense that commitment to the country must be constant. More like our national anthem and pledge that states thus “Arise, O compatriots Nigeria’s call obey to serve our fatherland with love and strength and faith. The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain, to serve with heart and might one nation bound in freedom Peace and Unity.

I do not know what could be more profound like our national anthem; little wonder it has a way of spurring one to greatness. And this is what the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonishakin has been able to bring about in the discharge of his duties as Chief of Defence Staff. He has demonstrated loyalty and patriotism, such that has endeared him to the heart of many Nigerians. His capacity to carry the various services of the Armed Forces had never been in doubt from the word go and this much he has done excellently well to the admiration of all and sundry. Lest I add that only recently, he was appointed to head the Committee ECOWAS Chief of Defence Staff.

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Just like the famous saying, a goldfish has no hiding place, so is the case of General Abayomi Olonishakin, who has exhibited every form of loyalty and patriotism in the discharge of his duties. Special commendation also goes to President Muhammadu Buhari, whose commitment to the rebuilding of the critical institutions in the Nigeria military is unflinching. And this can be called the true spirit of Nigeria.

I do not doubt that the various reforms introduced by General Abayomi Olonishakin in the Armed Forces would indeed stand the test to time. And it would serve as reference point not just for Nigeria, and also other countries in the world.

Ainoko is a public affairs analyst based in Kaduna.

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