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Arthur Mbanefo at 90: The Odu that I know BY Bayo Ojo

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Perhaps there is no better time than on the occasion of his 90th birthday to pay tribute to a man who has become a legendary tributary that has watered and nurtured the blossoming destinies of many young people and touched countless lives in very impactful ways – Ambassador (Chief) Arthur Christopher Izuegbunam Mbanefo, the Odu of Onitsha.

The Odu that I know and whom I am very proud to be associated with is someone from whom I have derived much inspiration and mentorship. Perhaps, it could be safely said that there are very few men of his generation who not only made great impact in building and developing the Accountancy profession in Nigeria but also in building the nation’s economy and in shaping and influencing public policy and political directions of this era.

He is so regarded on account of his admirable personal attributes of character nobility and refinement; unalloyed commitment and passion for the public good; forthrightness, integrity and courage of conviction. He is by every standard, one of the most respected and regarded public figures of his generation on the nation’s socioeconomic and political canvass. Odu’s essence, is perhaps one, that symbolises the greatest measure of commitment to patriotic ideals, loyalty and commitment to the Nigerian dream and the good of mankind in general.

For me, I consider the values he espouses and his personal legacies as worthy references and inspirational model of the highest ideals and impeccable service to his community, the country and the society in general; which should serve as a veritable guide and inspiration to this generation and the ones to come, in living a life of positive impact that is steeped in uncompromising and deep-seated love for the good of the country and advancement of the society.

Odu is a genial and jolly good fellow, a brilliant and greatly resourceful Nigerian statesman, who excelled in the corporate world as a boardroom guru, in the political space and as a public intellectual whose philosophy and values, border largely on a deep passion for the pursuit of an egalitarian Nigerian society, social order and well-being, human dignity and national integration.

The Odu that I know, is a recipient of the national honour of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (MFR), Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), Commander of the Order of Merit, Republic of Italy and a Grand Officer, National Order of the Southern Cross of Brazil and Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations. The Odu of Onitsha and Oluwo Adimula of Ile-Ife, is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), past president, gold medallist and fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).

He is a renowned Chartered Accountant who has served on the boards of many publicly quoted blue-chip companies in Nigeria. Odu holds the uncommon record of serving Nigeria for an unbroken period of nine years as a former pro-chancellor of my alma mater, the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (OAU), and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (ABU). He is the proprietor of the Arthur Mbanefo Charitable Foundation that donated the Arthur Mbanefo Digital Research Centre to the University of Lagos.

Going down memory lane, I recall that my path providentially crossed that of 0du, for the first time over 25 years ago. In the intervening years between then and now, the relationship has grown deeper and I have had the uncommon privilege of relating very closely and in practical terms with him, in a sort of mentor/mentee relationship that has greatly impacted my life. Ever since I met him, he has always shown and taken keen interest in my career and general well-being. As such, I am very proud that Odu is one of the living great Nigerian elder statesmen who have had great impact on my life. True to his endowment of imposing physique, elite status and monumental private and career attainments, he eminently stands out as a colossus, a human diamond and a phenomenon of some sorts.

The Odu that I know has always stood admirably tall and true to his noble convictions amidst the discomfiting and chaotic Nigerian society. As a pan- Nigerian nationalist and proven detribalised patriot, he is one of the distinct personages on our national canvas who has the most uncommon record of patriotic exertions and extensive commitment to the betterment of the Nigeria’s social, economic and political milieu.

A quintessential statesman with a noble philosophy and orientation that a man truly lives when the years he has spent are spent in the service of others, Odu has in all his adult life, demonstrated unalloyed passion, commitment and devotion to serving his fellow compatriots and humanity by extension, through service to country and the promotion of human capital, well-being and sustainable growth and development of our country.

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For his enviable personal nobility and impeccable records of national service which earned him good measure of public esteem, he is considered by very many Nigerians, old and young, as an uncommon inspirational national figure and role model, as well as one of the most accomplished, distinguished and celebrated Nigerians of his generation and, indeed of this era. Of truth, the essence of Odu is far beyond what one could sufficiently capture in a few paragraphs, for he is indubitably a rare Nigerian and nay, African icon whose imprints are indelible and far-reaching.

It is on account of his impeccable character, high refinement, quintessential leadership attributes, as well as his profound commitment to the good of Nigeria, the advancement of the country and the human society in general, that Odu is highly regarded and admired by not a few Nigerians across the divide as a distinguished Nigerian in the true sense of the word. Even at his present considerable advanced age, Odu’s graceful elegant gaits, analytical and sound intellect, as well as his cerebral acuity and the fecundity of the mind, are great admirable attributes. His scholarly orientation and the depth of his creative mind are much reflected in his literary works.

Reading through his autobiography ‘A fulfilled life of service’ which is masterly crafted in his characteristic sophistication, as well as the very colourful, well-written and illuminating treatise on Onitsha as a town that has lost its shine – his latest book which he published in January this year, is an enchanting voyage into the sociological dynamics, where in, he rightly observed that: “history has taught us that no development in the world has succeeded in maintaining its purity over time without change… I do not claim to possess the solutions to the many complex issues that have brought Onitsha to its present state. Nevertheless, it is my belief that we cannot continue to drift like a rudderless ship without thought as to what legacy we are leaving to our children. It is important however that we draw to the various ills I have identified in the hope that some thought would be provoked in those with conscience, to start at least some conversations towards finding solutions to these challenges currently facing the town.”

His highly sought-after compendium of art works is a treasure in itself. It becomes copiously clear that the Odu that I know is a quintessential ideas- merchant, a great thinker and a sort of philosopher-king, one who craves for societal order and a sane human society and living conditions for the people. The Odu that I know is a man who is also reputed to have played an eminent role as a special envoy in the defunct ‘Republic of Biafra’ and who, perhaps at that time, was the closest ally of the chief protagonist of the Biafran revolution, the then Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu, and who reportedly referred to him fondly as his ‘colleague and compatriot.’

This is a man who later went on to become a key figure in the administration of the national affairs of the Nigerian nation that he was at a point on the other side of. It is indeed instructive to note that in the post-Biafra era, he became a leading figure in the development of Nigeria’s education sector, private sector, and occupied very sensitive and strategic positions in our national life. He capped all that up with a sterling tour of duty as an ‘ultimate diplomat’ in the exalted capacity as Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of Nigeria at the United Nations for four years. Such is his demonstrable super-value as noble statesman and distinguished global citizen.

The Odu that I know is one who has aptly summarised the challenges facing Nigeria as a nation today as being largely engendered and firmly rooted and entrenched in the first republic. He posits that the first republic was bedevilled by an unwholesome loyalty of the political class to ethnic cleavages and that there was the concentration of efforts on gaining individual and group powers for themselves and for the sake of power attainment.

He also submits that the seed of ethnic politics with its attendant destructive effects on our national life was sown by the avoidable errors of judgement of omission and commission on the part of the political gladiators of that era; that those crop of politicians were propelled by inordinate quest for power above true national interest and that they conducted their political enterprise in a manner that had great demonstrated disdain and intolerance for opposing views and dissenting public opinion – all of which according to him, ultimately provided the grounds for the first military putsch of 1966, the consequences of which we are still contending with today in our national life.

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The Odu that I know is one great Nigerian patriot who has played remarkable roles at critical junctures and moments in the life of this great country, Nigeria. Roles and responsibilities that have placed him in higher national reckoning than many of his contemporaries. One of such was the strategic role he played in 1996 at the height of Nigeria’s darkest moments in international relations, a period of the country’s expulsion from the Commonwealth when he was on the entourage of the late Ooni of Ife to London to plead the case of the country with the British government, as well as that of being the face of Nigeria at the United Nations for four years at the onset of this Fourth Republic, during which he succeeded in helping to reposition the country into a respected continental voice at the global arena.

The Odu that I know is a committed Nigerian patriot who has served the country meritoriously on many strategic and sensitive beats, such as being Chairman of the States and Local Government Creation Committee which was set up by the late Gen. Sani Abacha’s military administration in 1995. It was the implementation of the recommendations of his Committee by the junta that brought to life the last set of six new states, namely – Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Gombe, Nasarawa and Zamfara which gave us to the present 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

It is worth mentioning here that his committee underscored critical elements of development thus: “…in this context therefore, the committee defines development as those efforts that directly impact positively on the lives of a people and human status. This will include the provision of social infrastructure as well as opportunities for economic activities, human and cultural development.

“Essentially, development efforts of a people must aim at copiously making available good health care delivery, sound educational facilities, a stable sociopolitical environment, etc., as salient preconditions for the genuine and full liberation of mankind from the grips of the forces of social degradation and its attendant consequences. When the basic essentials of life are within the reach of everybody……… it can be reasonably argued that rural development is firmly taking root in human society…”

The Odu that I know is a first-rate administrator and leader who has consistently argued and advocated that in order to build a robust Nigerian nation, developing effective and efficient public institutions is fundamental. As an advocate of the integrity of institutions and the integrity quotient of the drivers of public institutions as being vital to achieving national development, he is one public figure who has consistently called for the putting at the helms of our affairs and institutions, right and competent men and women whose minds are well attuned to integrity imperative; putting up deliberate policies and programs for national integration and the adoption of a liberal and nationalistic approach to public service by public officers, particularly in relating with a broad spectrum of Nigerian compatriots from the national divides, being guided by the ideals of equity, respect and fair play while at the same time mindful of their various interests and tendencies.

The Odu that I know is an accomplished and noble man who has always placed high premium on virtues of integrity and ethics as he endearingly demonstrated in 1977 when he surprisingly turned down an offer of a seat on the Board of Guinness Nigeria Ltd, on account that the accounting firm Akintola Williams which he was working for (as the Managing Director of AW Consultants Ltd, a subsidiary of Akintola Williams & Co) were the auditors of Guinness at that time. That singular act of high ethical disposition and integrity earned him admiration and increased his reputational rating amongst his colleagues as well as high consideration in the corridors of powers.

This was what led to his being called upon for several special and important assignments by states and federal governments, and which culminated in his being recognised and honoured in 1981, with the exalted national honour of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (MFR) for “his services to the development of, and practice of Accounting profession in Nigeria” which made him become the record holder as the first Accountant in Nigeria’s private sector to be so honoured.
The virtues of integrity, humility, gentlemanliness and statesmanship of the Odu that I know were aptly corroborated by Mr. Charles Sankey, a retired Partner of Akintola Williams, who gave his impression about him thus:

“…there was no question with his efficiency. He is a brilliant man. If you look at Arthur Mbanefo, you look at a perfectionist; someone who wants to do things in the right way, in a particular way, and in his own way. No compromise! It could be quite challenging for that kind of person to work with people…”

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Yes, Mr. Charles Sankey was right in his foregoing submission. The Odu that I know is an uncompromising stickler for form and protocol, for integrity of process and outcomes and he would always demand that you do not only do the right things, but do things right at all times. It is generally believed that politics in Nigeria is dirty, particularly for men who are high on integrity. Although it could be said that he became a remarkable political figure and an acclaimed public policy influencer within the government circle by way of political appointments, the Odu that I know is one man who never allowed the characteristic stains of the murky waters of Nigerian politics to mess his white robes.

He conducted himself with admirable dignity all through his engagements within the nation’s political space. In the foregoing regard, I consider it worth mentioning here that even at the top echelon of the political space where he operated, he is held in high esteem by his associates and colleagues. For instance, at the end his tour of duty as Nigeria’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative at the United Nations, there were many encomia that were showered on Odu by his colleague envoys for what they considered the strength of his personality and reputational nobility. The following remark of Professor George Obiozor, who at the time was Nigeria’s Ambassador to Israel was one of such tributes:

“…for me and many others too numerous to mention, you (Arthur) represents the voice of reason, compassion and the most articulate analyst of our national conditions. That you do so with disarming humility in spite of your esteemed position in life equally amazes many of us and further enhances our propensity to come closer to drink from your fountain of wisdom and extraordinary statesmanship…”

By way of conclusion, it gives me great pleasure and honour to on behalf of my family and I, to give the foregoing tribute in celebrating a great Nigerian patriot and a truly distinguished gentleman, our own Chief Arthur Mbanefo, Odu of Onistsha, proprietor of the Arthur Mbanefo Charitable Foundation, a committed Nigerian patriot and a highly esteemed first-rate technocrat and nation-builder whom I have and will always have tremendous regard and admiration for, on account of the greatness of his soul and persona as well as his immense contributions to the development of our country Nigeria.

The Odu that I know is a great man with cosmopolitan and broad worldview. To him, religion and other pedestrian considerations take back seat in his relationship with people. He is a liberal, generous, selfless, honest and dependable mentor, role model, friend, business associate and ally that anyone can ever ask for. One not to ever abandon his friends. He is a pathfinder and an illuminating figure whose life has been a light and illumination to the world around him.

It must also be said that one of the endearing attributes of the Odu that I know, is his delightful endearing humility which he has always demonstrated over the years by not allowing the age differential between him and some of us his ‘friends’ and associates that are much younger to him to be a barrier in our friendship and relationship as we have always mingled and operated freely with him.

It is therefore with a high sense of honour, that I congratulate Ambassador (Chief) Arthur Christopher Izuegbunam Mbanefo, Odu of Onitsha for the uncommon grace of good and healthy life at the advanced age of 90, the great and extraordinary noble life he has lived, as well as the huge impact he has made in the lives of we his mentees, the countless lives of Nigerians that he has touched in our communities as well as those he has inspired to high attainments in his sojourn in the corporate world. Odu’s ideals and lifetime career and public life accomplishments will continue to be a huge source of inspiration to generations to come for the building of the good Nigerian society of our dream – one that guarantees a future for the present and future generation of Nigerians. While praying that the tribe of the Odu of Onitsha that I know increases in our national life for our nation to continue to draw from his fountain of wisdom and experience, my special birthday wishes for him is the grace and blessings of God in length of days, good health, all-round fulfilment, peace and joy.

Chief Bayo Ojo, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), is a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

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Edo Decide 2020: Lack of ideology or just pure vibes?

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Nigeria’s democracy is 20 years old since the country returned to a democratic government on May 29, 1999. Since then, there are different clogs in the wheel of democratic dispensation in Nigeria which affect the country from having a ‘true’ multiparty democracy. One of these is party defection or cross carpeting.

If we take a closer look into the Nigeria political history, we will realise that Extant literature reveals that the issue of party defection, where politicians crossing from one political party to the other, is rampant in Nigeria and it cuts across all levels of government from federal to local. The most recent and absurd occurrence is that of the Edo state political system.

The Tenure of the Governor of Edo State will expire on the 11th day of November 2020 and by virtue of the provisions of Section 178 (2) of the Constitution, and Section 25 (8) of the Electoral Act, Election into the office of a State Governor shall hold not earlier than One Hundred and Fifty (150) days and not later than thirty (30) days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of the office. In view of that, the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) announced 19th September 2020 as the official date for the Edo state election.

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This election once again presents the Edo people with another opportunity to elect a leader that will provide them with the dividends of democracy and good governance they have been clamouring for. For me, it is also the best time to point to the good people of Edo state that they have more than APC and PDP to select from in the forthcoming election.

According to the communique released by INEC, they have registered and confirmed only 14 Political Parties (14 Governorship Candidates for the forthcoming election). Which means the people have 14 candidates to select from of which two are females. I needed to point that out as we have indirectly accepted that Nigeria is running a two-party system by practice as the “competition” has always been between the APC and the PDP.

A political party is meant to be driven by principle and ideologies, these ideologies apparently are what attract candidates to join the party. In other words, it is safe to say, the ideology of a political party is almost the same as the members of that party. But what democracy depicts in Nigeria continues to manifest clearly around individual’s quests for recognition or self-preservation rather than the greater purpose of service to the people and nation as enshrined in the letters of the definitions of democracy.

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In the Edo state 2016 election, Governor Godwin Obaseki contested and won his election under the APC. In his campaigns, his Godfather and mentor were able to present to us why PDP is not a worthy party to give power and how they lack ideologies to govern a state, here we are in 2020, the same man is contesting under the PDP, a party that is of no good.

Pastor Ize-Iyamu Osagie on the hand, who has been a major rival to the APC, contested under the PDP in the 2016 election in Edo state but in this 2020 he is now in APC, a party he agreed are occupied by corrupt and incompetent people. The question really is what changed over the years in the life of both Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu?

I won’t ever forget the role of Adams Oshiomole in all this, how he was able to remind the good people of Edo state about the past mismanagement of Edo State by Pastor Ize-Iyamu Osagie and his then party, the PDP. Adams Oshiomole, who was then the outgoing governor, minced no word in tagging Pastor Ize-Iyamu Osagie as a thief and an incompetent bigot who cannot be trusted with the treasury of Edo state and it was the reason he did not nominate him for an appointment when he was still a Governor under the APC in the State. I ask again, what changed now?

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To be fair, it is not just an APC or the PDP thing. Because in that same 2016, Amos Areloegbe contested under the Labour Party (LP) but he is now contesting under the All People’s Party (APP). In the same vein, Akhalamhe Amiemenoghena contested in 2016 under the People for Democratic. Change (PDC) and in 2020 he is in the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP). Not forgetting Agol Ebun who was in the Nigerien Progressive Party (PPN) in 2016 but has now crossed carpet to New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) in 2020.

This systemic behaviourism by so-called and self-styled politicians in Nigeria has reduced the quality of opposition and clear proof that politicians and their political parties have no principles or ideologies. All this supports Winston Churchhill claim that “Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party.”

Victor Ejechi is the Media and Communications Lead at StatiSense Consult

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Buhari: Restoring Nigeria’s Armed Forces lost glory BY Onmeje

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The reality in Nigeria on improved security does not need crystalline lens to have a clear sight. Never mind those whose minds are fixated on pulsating or celebrating the odd and the petrifying, which comes erratically for a country adroitly fixing its various insecurity challenges amid schemes of sabs.

But the value of truth cannot be diminished by the media hype of opposition elements, scattered everywhere in the system and only concerned about permutations on how to grab power in the next political dispensation.

No one blames them because leadership or power is not donated on a platter of gold to anyone. It is a rough field and all arsenals are recruited either for triumph or defeat of either side of the actors on the turf.

Mindless of the entanglements on field of powerplay, but truth is always visible and palpable enough, in spite of the evil gang-up against it. The Commander-In-Chief (C-in-C) of the Armed Forces of any nation is a serious personality by every rating, whether biased or objective. He holds the ace and accepts every liability or asset in the aftermath.

The C-in-C’s physiognomy is immaterial in the political and security leadership of a nation he bears the nightmarish burden of offering to his people. He is the receptor of everything. He takes credit for good or bad as long as he reigns.

It explains President Muhammadu Buhari’s reasons for painstakingly dedicating of time to carefully scrutinize and appoint capable lieutenants to assist him in the arduous task of governing a complex country like Nigeria. In Nigeria, at least one thing is expressively eloquent enough for all ears. President Buhari, as the C-in-C made no mistakes in selecting his appointees’, especially Service Chiefs. Security is a pivotal component of government in any country globally.

A fortified Armed Forces are the primary strength of any nation. When countries like Israel, America, Russia, Germany, China, Great Britain and several other world powers roar at external aggressors harshly- the countries which threaten their sovereignty and territorial integrity, its because of the might of their Military. The world has never at any time been immune from troubles. It is prophetic and historical.

President Buhari did Nigerians a lot of good which has remained unsung. When Buhari became the democratic leader of Nigeria in 2015, he met a degenerated, polarized, politicized, under equipped, poorly motivated, under-staffed, under-trained and an archaic Military. Nigeria had the infamous chaunt of operating a Military which ducked in the battlefield in the face of menacing enemies.

Boko Harm and other insurgency sects held Nigerians captive in their country and homes for years, right into Abuja. Aware of this situation, what President Buhari never failed his conscience about the leadership Nigerians entrusted to him from the outset was to appoint competent, loyal, patriotic and trusted team of senior Military officers to head the various arms of the nation’s Armed Forces.

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The President wanted a total overhaul of the security architecture of the country. It was avoidably the first tonic he discovered as imperative to inject into the Nigerian Military. He allowed the Service Chiefs he inherited to function for nearly two months (May 29 – July 15, 2015) to weigh their performance before taking a decision. If they were truly good, but frustrated by the preceding administration, Buhari was prepared to retain them. He would never have sacked them.

President Buhari gave them the tools and liberty to operate freely for nearly two months. But he didn’t get the required results. Quite disturbed, he relieved these Nigerians of their appointments; thanked them for service to the nation and crowned new Service Chiefs with a specific mandate- to end terrorism in the country as soon as possible.

And among them, a crack professional soldier, patriotic, loyal and a no-nonsense Army General, already used to terrorism warfare, who was serving as Commander of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai was appointed COAS and leader of counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria. It was the genesis of the relocation of Military Chiefs to the theatre of war in Maiduguri, Northeast of Nigeria in compliance with a presidential order.

The insecurity in the region immediately resolved itself because serious senior Military personnel, who are conversant with the asymmetrical style of terrorists’ wars took charge in obedient response to the presidential directive. A lot of gains have been made. The wanton destruction of lives and properties by the Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria has been reduced by at least, 90 percent, even with their bolstered strength by ISWAP.

Today, when some Nigerians malevolently fault the Service Chiefs and playout games to compel President to drop these Military assets to Nigeria for flimsy excuses such as “incompetence,” the President just laughs himself out. It is because he is yet to see where they failed Nigeria or the best to replace them now to effectively dispense results and stick to the earlier stated qualities, especially, loyalty and patriotism. The current internal struggles for leadership in the Military confirms this fear.

Its normal that some Nigerians are sometimes forgetful. The person leading counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria is President Buhari and not the Service Chiefs. The President who has a clearer and better knowledge of the operations of the Military in warfare, knows his Service Chiefs have not disappointed him or the country on this sensitive national assignment and its spiraling into other insurgencies most Nigerians can’t even rehearse in haste. With someone else on Buhari’s seat, it would have been worse for Nigeria.

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Whether desperate political power seekers inflaming or aggravating the insecurity problems appreciate it or not, the evidence is palpable or unalterable. And those who for various reasons deny it openly, still admit it in their secret and reflective moments.
Beneficiaries of this insecurity breather as necessitated by President Buhari are also chorusing songs of praise to the Military every day. The journey started quite far and President Buhari prepared for it. He has kept watering the pipe of Military empowerment for excellence in Nigeria.

Under President Buhari, the Nigerian Armed Forces have not botched on security as often irreligiously echoed sentimentally. The brave officers, personnel, men and women of the Nigerian Air Force, the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Army have all been retrained, adequately equipped and properly motivated for the job. And the morale has ever been high, among air, water or the ground troops of Nigeria.

A combination of these Military personnel constitute the troops cracking the swampy Lake Chad Basin area in final Clearance Operations. It is exactly the last battle ground between Nigeria and the enemy forces of Boko Haram/ ISWAP terrorists.

And as the Nigerian Military expend weapons every day on the battlefield battling insurgents, so also President Buhari ensures that Military armoury is consistently replenished. It is what has made the Military of other nations like the USA, Great Britain, Russia, China and Germany thick and proud in defending their countries. Nigerian Military is at their doorstep now.

However, anywhere in the world, the Army is the largest and biggest component of the Military. They are the first fighters deployed to the field in the event of a sudden outbreak of war. And the Army is also the last to end field battles with enemy forces. President Buhari, a retired soldier himself realises it; what many Nigerians failed to decode.

Therefore, his anointment and support of a knowledgeable Military expert like Gen. Buratai as COAS and leader of counter-insurgencies in Nigeria has paid off handsomely. The Army Chief has repositioned the Army to accept, absorb, deflate, dismantle and effectively tackle all the insecurity challenges of Nigeria staunchly. Nigerian soldiers now are not just brave, courageous and resilient, but excitedly execute the manifold tasks at the frontlines with Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists.

But it has come through months and years of strategic planning and prudent application of resources. Gen. Buratai has revived the Nigerian Army to levels where it is confirmatory that not every fighting weapon troops need in the warfront with the latest touch of technological innovations is acquired externally or imported, but fabricated locally. Hitherto moribund Army institutions like Nigerian Army School of Artillery, et al and training institutions like the Nigerian Army University at Biu and the Nigerian Army Aviation School and others, with widely acclaimed world class infrastructures attests to Gen. Buratai’s epochal leadership of the Army.

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Beyond these achievements, Gen. Buratai has ensured the return of accountability, probity and transparency to the Nigerian Army through various innovations and reforms championed by the C-in-C who appointed him to supervise the Army.

A soldier reputed as someone ahead of his time, Gen. Buratai by the directives of President Buhari has prioritized the expansion of the Nigerian Army his topmost agenda in other to meet the numerous security challenges in Nigeria. From Nigerian Army’s former six Divisions, Gen. Buratai has added another two to the number. Nigerian Army now has Army Division 6 (Rivers state) and Army Division 8 (Borno state) in addition to countless Forward Bases and Battalions across the country.

Buratai’s almost monthly expansion of the Army also has bold imprints in recruitments of both direct and short service officers for training. It is therefore, not unexpected that the Nigerian Army has won laurels and medals in international organizations, signposts which have restored Nigeria’s lost Military glory in the comity of nations.

The COAS also thinks a soldier deserves economic empowerment; a life of comfort and financial independence. Therefore, and in line with global trends, the Army under Buratai has evolved and implemented an economic development agenda for the convenience of soldiers and their families in tandem with the political leadership vision of President Buhari.

Pointedly, never before had the Nigerian Army boasted of the Nigeria Army Farms and Ranches; Nigerian Army Property Limited; Nigerian Army post- Service Housing Development Limited; Command Engineering Depot; and Nigerian Army Welfare Limited through an organized Guarantee or surety under friendly terms for soldiers. But under President Buhari’s direction and Gen. Buratai’s compliance, the Nigerian Army is a proud owner of these legacy investments and heritage.

When Nigerians read a recent interview Gen. Buratai hurriedly granted a journalist in his makeshift camp at Maiduguri , headquarters of Operation Lafiya Dole, while kitting himself to hop into the jungle again, he said; “ I am a soldier; am a highly patriotic soldier; a highly patriotic Nigerian who loves his country so much; who loves the progress of his country, and who loves his profession so passionately and is interested in the welfare of anyone I come across.” Truly, Gen. Buratai came prepared for the task roundly.

Onmeje is a public affairs commentator and contributed this piece from the United Kingdom.

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2023: Why Mamman Daura should not be vilified BY AGBESE

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In the years 2017, a group of northern leaders felt ashamed by the crop of leaders warming up to take over the mantle of leadership from the current set of leaders that it realised it has to do something about the leadership selection process in the region.

At the end of that summit which held in Kaduna, many of the participants were of the view that the current process which throws up clannish champions as national leaders may not be the best and that something must be done to create a system where competence would be the major criteria for leadership selection.

Three years later, elder statesman, Malam Mamman Daura has come out to hit the nail on the head about what has been at the base of poor leadership in Nigeria and recommended that competence should be prioritised while zoning should be rested.

But this noble idea has been shouted down for no other reason than the fact that it is coming from what is considered an inappropriate quarter to voice out such concerns.

The North is always considered as conservative and reactionary and not expected to advance progressives ideas.

Hence, when Malam Daura, a northern elder made the suggestion, the criticism that trailed his comment had nothing to do with the merit of the idea, but the perceived undertone that it was meant to favour a particular region.

But while castigating the message because of the messenger, many have failed to acknowledge some historical factors that support the Daura viewpoint.

In both the 1st and 2nd Republics, when the team of what was considered as the 1st Eleven of Nigerian politicians featured, nobody said anything about zoning the prime minister or president position to any particular zone in the country.

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Though the dominant parties then had their bases in the respective zones of their party’s leaders, they all went into elections believing that the electorate is mature enough to decide the best based on what the candidates present to them.

The great Nnamdi Azikiwe because of his eloquence,  erudition and the programme of his party, won elections in the Southwest devoid of any ethnic or religious consideration.

In the era of the 2nd Republic, the NPP which had Azikiwe as its presidential candidate won the northern state of Plateau and almost won Benue in 1983 before the coming of the military, while the NPN considered as made up of northern conservatives, won southern states like Rivers and Cross Rivers in the south.

The apogee of such political idealism was when in 1993, MKO Abiola defeated Bashir Tofa in his home state of Kano.

These examples have shown that Nigeria had always preferred merit and competence over parochial considerations.

Step forward to 2020 and elder statesman, Malam Mamman Daura, who has seen it all makes recommendations that Nigeria should go back to its preferred pattern of the leadership selection process where competence would be placed above geopolitical considerations and all hell was let loose.

The question is, what is strange in the Malam Daura suggestion to warrant such attacks and misrepresentations when it had always been actually what Nigerians wanted.

The Nigerian electoral body, which is now known as INEC had over the years tried to de-emphasize regional, religious or ethnic politics and that is why it had always made it mandatory that any party seeking to be registered to contest election in Nigeria must have functional offices in at least two-third of the states of the federation.

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Further than that, the electoral laws also provide that a candidate can only be declared the winner of a presidential election if he, in addition to winning the majority votes, also scores at least two-third of the votes in at least two-third of the states of the federation.

Translated, this means that even the laws governing elections in the country have tried to deemphasize regional considerations as candidates can only receive such nationwide acceptance based on merit.

This is the point that Malam Daura tried to make when he said the 2023 presidency should be about competence and not based on zoning as the nation had tried zoning about three times and it has not worked.

When Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was president between 1999 and 2007, the zone that complained most about neglect was the Southwest and when Yar’Adua succeeded him, the North did not fare better than in the previous administration. Till date, Jonathan is being accused of not doing enough for the South-south.

This shows that the idea of the rotational presidency does not even help the region the president hails but only puts pressure on the incumbent to look at his region eve when he had sworn an oath not to use his office to give undue favour to one side.

The fact is, competence is the new order in the world in the leadership selection process. That was why America chose Barack Obama, that was why Russia is almost stuck with Vladimir Putin as its leader and that is why issues of where a political leader hails from hardly matter in most advanced countries.

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Naturally, people gravitate towards good leadership no matter where it comes from. The first US president, George Washington was offered a third term but he declined not minding whether he was from the North or South.

Rwanda after the genocidal war came back and repeatedly elected Paul Kagame, a true leader, who has moved the nation forward despite being from what was considered a minority ethnic group.

It is said that in Tanzania, the people don’t even care where their president hails from as he has been able to wield the nation of different ethnic groups into one nation.

Malam Daura has not excluded any zone from contesting the 2023 elections as there are qualified and competent persons from all the regions in the country.

What he is saying is that the best among the collection should be favoured.

Nigerians should accept this as the new world order as zoning has proven to be undemocratic, dictatorial and exclusive.

To continue on the archaic and primordial principle of zoning which has not helped any would be to retrogress.

Besides, it is unconstitutional as zoning denies people their rights and privileges to contest at a given time.

Worse still, the principle has never been respected in the first place as people from other zones usually defy the recommendation to contest with those from the zone it is zoned to.

That is why zoning should be jettisoned since it has always been observed in the breach while competence, like Malam Daura said should be the new thing.

 

Agbese wrote this piece from Abuja.

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