“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots;” – Marcus Garvey.
Everywhere in the globe, great nations, societies and communities have had their today elegantly defined by history. History is today’s teacher and tomorrow’s fortifier against the mistakes, pitfalls and inaccuracies of the past. History is kind to everyone and very silent, but speaks a thousand immutable words of wisdom to a whole generation.
But mischievous persons seek to destroy history and there are no limits of perpetrating this act. It’s easy for people with such mindsets to twist history and everything under the sun insofar as it serves the purpose of damaging a noble cause. It is to such debased minds Marcus Garvey; a famed Jamaican publisher is warning in the insightful caution.
In an article by Charles Ogbu, titled, “Re: The legend of Buratai; Memo to the Army Chief,” the author sought vainly to vilify and demean the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and remarkable ombudsman of the counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria.
Ogbu attempted so generously to amputate historically time-tested and incontrovertible facts about the current leadership of the Nigerian Army and the stout battles Nigerian troops have launched against Boko Haram Terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria in the past three years.
Unmistakably blinded by an inexplicable self-consuming anger, the author went on a senseless and apparently envious, but unrewarding voyage against the Army Chief. Freedom of expression in Nigeria is a Constitutional right; but it precludes the spewing of gibberish, spurred by a clannish or sectional anger or some personal grudge.
The author’s angst is instigated by the planned presentation of a published book on Gen. Buratai, titled “The Legend of Buratai,” to school children at the Federal Capital Territory library, Abuja. The contents of the book mainly about the exploits of the Nigerian Army over insurgency and insurrections in Nigeria under the leadership of Gen. Buratai in a fictional style narrative of children’s literature, authored by a renowned scholar, Dr. Abubakar Mohd Sani.
Ogbu faulted the book and its presentation to school children by seeking to falsely re-write the history of Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria under the previous regimes and what is obtainable now under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The namby-pamby article saw the author displaying a pathetic and eclipsed knowledge of the success story of the three-year counter-terrorism battles under the Buhari Presidency. He further sought to undermine Gen. Buratai’s leadership of the Nigerian Army and the successes Nigerian troops have recorded at the warfront against Boko Haram insurgents.
The obviously dazed, the article author gleefully forgot yesterday’s history on Boko Haram in Nigeria. He is experiencing the difference today, but lacks the competence to interpret or blend it with history. So, he decided on an easy escape by dissolving the cherished history of triumph and defeat of Boko Haram with his wayward idiosyncrasies’.
It is his type former American President, Dwight D. Eisenhower counsels that “Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.”
The author betrayed his mindset by crafting and peddling visible lies on this simple conviction of inappropriate timing. But facts are sacred and history cannot be obviated by a mere wish. First, the article author is devoid of procedural knowledge of the deployment of soldiers. So, he failed to understand that it is not the primary duty of the Army to jump into quelling insurrections; but that of civil security agencies.
The Army is only concerned when the proper approval has been granted by the President and Commander-In-Chief. Thereafter, soldiers launch specified operations in the areas concerned, but do not remain in such areas forever.
But irrefutable records have shown that across Nigeria where the Army were drafted to quell insurrections, they have posted positive results. The article author deliberately failed to understand that the Army tackled the armed banditry and cattle rustling in the Northwest region at different times with “Operation Sharan Daji” and “Operation Harbin Kunama I.”
These Army operations ended the reign of armed banditry in the region and it only resumed a long time after soldiers were withdrawn to other places and political leadership failed to sustain the peace and security. The Army has been re-ordered back to Northwest for a month’s battled tagged “Operation Harbin Kunama III” and results also speak for itself in pluses.
Soldiers also conducted “Operation Harbin Kunama II,” “Exercise Ayem Akpatema” and now, “Operation Whirl Stroke” to arrest the menace of herdsmen/farmers clashes in the Middle Belt region. Ogbu should research or investigate properly, Governors of Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and Plateaus have made public statements in the media thanking Mr. President and the Army for the prevailing solace over herdsmen killers in their states.
There were similar problems in the South-South with bile militancy and the illegal/ armed secession struggles in the Southeast spearheaded by Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB. But the different operations of the Army in these regions have ended such “madness,” as peace and security have been restored courtesy of the Nigerian Army. Seeking to blight this history of the Army under the leadership of Gen. Buratai cannot annihilate the facts.
To use the wishy-washy contents of the article to berate and malign our soldiers over the nebulous and criminal activities of its assembled armed gangs under IPOB who embarked on extra-judicial killings of those opposed to their ideology is very uncharitable and a disservice to Nigeria. It is not surprising all together that Ogbu generously sided armed criminals masquerading as secession agitators, because it is innate with some Nigerians to support evil against their country.
The article author continued with the historical distortions and falsehood when he exhumed the treated and buried attacks on the convoy of the COAS by armed Shiites in Nigeria in December 2015 in Zaria, Kaduna state. It is completely standing against logic and somewhat silly for quoting isolated accounts of submissions during Public hearings of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry(JCI) set up by the Kaduna State Government, instead of the official report or its White Paper. It implies this armchair analyst is merely scouting for dark spots to blame Gen. Buratai and the Army.
Likewise, the author feels defaming the personality of Gen. Buratai or tainting the image of the Nigerian Army as an institution would be believable by forcing the stale belief that whatever Amnesty International (AI) reels out is gospel truth. But AI is suspected to be foreign agents supporting terror sects or groups to destabilize the country and cause its disintegration. Year after year, AI has been unable to substantiate or provide evidence against numerous allegations it keeps levelling against the Nigerian Army at lawful probe panels.
The author of the worthless article dabbled into the Boko Haram insurgency, which by all ramifications of his accounts are strange to him. He disgraced himself as someone who is ignorant of the intensity of insurgency in 2015 and the impacts the Gen. Buratai led troops have brought to bear through the counter-insurgency operations.
But where were his likes who feign ignorance now when Gen. Buratai stepped into the trenches with troops to know Boko Haram had full control and foisted their Jihadi flags in 17 LGAs and had partial control of another seven LGAs in the Northeast? Under Buratai’s leadership of counter-terrorism operations, all the LGAs have been reclaimed. The feared Sambisa forest has been demystified and has assumed the status of an international tourists attraction site. Can this history be distorted or countenanced by Ogbu too?
Aside the 276 Chibok Schoolgirls in Boko Haram captivity, over 20, 000 Nigerians, comprising the young, the old, women and children were under Boko Haram hostage in various insidious camps in the Northeast. They were subjected to forced labour, sexual abuse and other dehumanizing treatments. Under Gen. Buratai’s leadership of the Army, over 105 Chibok schoolgirls; 107 Dapchi schoolgirls and over 16,000 Nigerians formerly under terrorist’s captivity have been rescued. Is this fact too controvertible?
To advertise the author’s ignorance, he convicted himself by claiming Nigerian troops are poorly equipped yet, they have been able to reclaim all Boko Haram seized territories, confine their activities to remotest parts of Lake Chad Basin and halted terrorists’ atrocities in other parts of Northern Nigeria.
And about two weeks ago, troops successfully repelled the insurgents attempted attacks on Damaturu, at Maiduguri, where scores of insurgents met their waterloo and weapons confiscated by Nigerian troops? It means this sort of “poor” equipment of Nigerian troops as hyped by the article author is best for Nigeria.
Perhaps, to Ogbu and his co-travellers, it is important to know Nigerian Army or troops have never protested over unpaid salaries and allowances under the Buhari Presidency or Gen. Buratai’s leadership. The only time soldiers attempted a protest at Maiduguri airport some two years back was spurred by the incitement and hesitation to redeployment to other areas by some soldiers. May be, the article writer should wait, when he becomes the COAS, he can allow his troops dictate to him preferences in posting locations for official assignments.
It’s understandable that in Nigeria, everybody is an expert in every field, but master of none! The writer misplaced his thoughts with the claim that Gen. Buratai “…has continued to grant suspicious pardon to “repentant” Boko Haram terrorists amidst reports of secret recruitment of these so called “repentant” terrorists into the Army.”
This is thoughtless propaganda. From the outset, Gen. Buratai made it public his adoption of the “stick and carrot,” approach in dismantling Boko Haram. It has seen the voluntary surrender of hundreds of Boko Haram foot soldiers and top commanders, who are de-militarized and de-radicalized over a period of time in designated military camps.
It is some of these repentant and de-radicalized insurgents that are absorbed into the Army and it is done openly, with the media buzzing with the news. A popular axiom says, sometimes, you use a thief to catch a thief. Why would this split anybody’s head?
No matter how hard the efforts to unfairly excoriate Gen. Buratai , the records will exonerate him. Its senseless to claim a COAS who probed and dismissed soldiers on election duty for professional misconduct and compromise of the electoral process will turn around to promote same. In the 2019 general elections, soldiers on election duty in some parts of the country rather resisted the temptation of financial inducement by politicians.
Gen. Buratai, a leader who has made these priceless sacrifices and accomplishments for his country is not qualified to be dubbed a Legend, who else on his present seat, stretched this far in the past? Unknown to the likes of Ogbu, a prophet has no honour in his village, but Gen. Buratai is celebrated both at home and abroad, as he has bagged the Brazilian highest military award for his daring punches on terrorism in Nigeria.
Another former American President, Harry S. Truman, reminds the likes of the bewitched critic the embodiment of history in Gen. Buratai thus; “Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better”.
Agbese is a researcher in international humanitarian laws and wrote this piece from the United Kingdom.
NNPC and the fuss over staff re-deployment, By Gbenga Adeleke
It’s hardly tenable that any enlightened interest could question the rationale for the announcement of staff retirement and re-deployment at a public institution the way the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) did last week.
The NNPC last week announced the retirement of 11 senior management staff and redeployment of 19 others in an exercise it described as statutory. Most of those redeployed are to replace those exiting the Corporation into retirement by end of May and early June.
But there have been insinuations about the exercise in the media, and some have questioned while the GMD did it at a time of transition for the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Some have even read ethnic interests into the exercise.
I am sure the Group Managing Direction, GMD, of the Corporation, Maikanti Baru, who must have initially felt relief being able to get the approval for the retirements and redeployments at once(considering his busy schedule), must be bewildered by grumblings in the media over the exercise. The frustration was almost palpable in a press statement issued by NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, explaining the exercise.
He described the staff movement as “normal replacement and backfill exercise” to bridge the gap occasioned by impending retirement of some management staff of the corporation, among others. He stressed that the process followed extant rules and that such replacements were always effected before the final exit of the concerned staff.
The NNPC spokesman said it was usual for the corporation to obtain approval on replacements of retiring staff ahead of schedule. He said this was the case with the recent exercise that takes effect as at when the retiring staff departs at various times within the period. Ughamadu said the exercise was effected to ensure uninterrupted operations of the corporation in achieving its mandate and urged members of the public to disregard any insinuations.
It certainly beats the imagination that some vested interests would not see the exercise for what it was- an administrative effort to promote efficiency and prevent lethargy. While it is not always a surprise that some Nigerians would be skeptical about NNPC figures or operational efficiency due largely to the unsavory history of the Corporation, it must be the height of pessimism(or even mischief) to ask questions about an administrative action that did not breach any law or public service rules.
It is quite obvious that the retirement of these officers will open up gaps in the management of some important Strategic Business Units and Commercial Strategic Units of the corporation. This undoubtedly calls for urgency in proposing competent staff within the corporation for promotion to fill up those vacancies. Only an indolent management would allow a vacuum to be created at such strategic units of the Corporation.
It is quite instructive that the faceless critics of the NNPC action are not concerned about those retired.
The grumbling, as is to be expected, must be coming from those whose sense of entitlement had been hurt by the exercise. These are NNPC senior staff who had hoped to reap from the retirement of others, but who were, in the wisdom of those at the helm at NNPC, not suitable yet for the offices.
This is why there is such desperation to discredit the exercise as a promotion of cronyism and ethnic interest by those who had waited in the wings, and perhaps lobbied to no avail for those positions.
It is almost a rehash of the sentiments usually expressed by mischief makers anytime the Nigerian military announced new promotions and posting. The military often found itself having to explain that its exercise was a routine activity which carried no sentiments.
While the NNPC is not the military, those who alleged the exercise did not follow due process have not stated what rules were breached. And those who claimed the redeployment favoured only a section of the country have not mentioned those who were suitable for the appointments but were bye-passed.
It is pathetic that a promotion exercise at a profit-driven public institution such as the NNPC would be viewed as if it were political appointments. Anyone who has cared to look through the list of those recently redeployed would appreciate the thoroughness of the selection process. These are positions requiring special technical and administrative skills. No one has said any of those redeployed was not suitable for the position appointed.
While one cannot claim to know the level of competence of those appointed, we must have faith that those who carried out the exercise knew what they were doing. The NNPC has only one group managing director and the bucks stops at his table. If the GMD has to respond to queries on simple administrative actions from his table like staff redeployment, what right have we to demand efficiency from NNPC?
The fuss over the redeployment is a storm in a tea- cup. It is simply noise making, and it helps no one. The question any serious-minded Nigerian must ask on the exercise are few and simple. First, did the exercise follow extant corporate guidelines of the Corporation? Two, are those retired due for retirement within the month or two or three as required by the rules? Three, are those redeployed to fill the expected vacancies qualified and competent? Is the approval for the redeployments beneficial to the efficiency of NNPC or not?
So far from what is available in the media, the answers to these questions are positive. If the answers to these questions are in the affirmative, it goes without saying that any insinuation about other ulterior or exterior motives must be what it is: mischief!
The NNPC under Baru has earned our confidence, even if it’s in a small way, and we must give him the benefit of doubt. In a first of its kind in recent times, the NNPC was able to detect fraud in its operations and stop it. Through fraud and forensic investigations of activities of its subsidiary groups, the NNPC was able to save $1.6bn that could have gone to the Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Nigeria Limited. This is already in the public domain.
The companies were fleecing NNPC’s flagship Upstream subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and the Corporation got an award against them to refund 1.6 billion dollars to the NPDC. Incidentally, the NPDC is among companies affected by last week’s redeployments.
Baru was the second Chairman of the NNPC Anti-Corruption Committee in 2004, and as GMD he’s ensured all staff of the corporation and its various stakeholders were educated about NNPC’s corporate policies and the various anti-corruption acts in the country in order to avoid fraudulent transaction.
This is why the frenzy over the redeployments is meaningless.
Adeleke writes from Lagos
Babatunde Fowler: The zero sum game in political appointments, By Abubakar Ismail
9th Senate Presidency race: Why Danjuma Goje is the man to beat
At no time since 1999 has the race for the senate presidency been so competitive in a robustly healthy manner. Unlike in 2015 when some ambitious senators-elect ignored the ruling party’s zoning arrangement for the National Assembly, this time senators-elect are sticking with the party.
Barely a month before the inauguration of the 9th Senate, the race for the senate presidency is too close to call. Although the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, had zoned the seat to the North East and anointed Ahmed Lawan from Yobe State, returning and new senators are yet to officially endorse hm.
If the APC expect a coronation for Lawan when the next senate is inaugurated, it may be in for another shocker as it was in 2015. This is because whether the APC admits it or not, the emergence of Bukola Saraki as senate president in 2015 showed that legislators want to choose their own leaders and may not tolerate a third party doing that for them.
This is why in my opinion, despite the choice of Lawan by the party, forces in the National Assembly and outside of it have thrown up other candidates for the throne. Alli Ndume, the senator representing Borno Central was the first to challenge the choice of Lawan as soon as it became public knowledge after senators-elect met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Villa shortly after the general elections.
Ndume, as expected, boasted he was the most qualified person for the position and that he enjoined the support of his colleagues. But a few days after he declared interest, some senators and groups started calling on Danjuma Goje, a senator from Gombe, to declare interest in the senate presidency. These senators worked underground to sell the candidacy of Goje to all the senators-elect.
Goje was a two- term governor of Gombe State who transformed the infrastructure of the state. He put Gombe State in the national limelight with his aggressive performance as governor. His cool-headed, progressive leadership style endeared him to the electorate who fondly called him “Limamu Change” (leader of change).
Among leaders of the APC in the north, no one did more for the party than Goje. Despite the fact that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,was in power in his state, he staked everything to ensure the people voted APC in the presidential election of 2015 and 2019. It is a mark of high he is in the estimation of his people that he has won re=election to the senate twice.
The fact that he is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation is a strong indication that his colleagues in the senate hold him in high esteem. Unlike Ndume who has remained a controversial member of the senate, Goje has remained focused on his legislative duties and keeps a clean record. It is incredibly admirable that Goje has also managed to avoid getting involved in any legislative scandal despite heading a critical committee.
This is why it is not surprising that he is the only senator from the north east that has been endorsed by different groups and individuals who are not in the national assembly. The support he has enjoyed from people and groups outside the national assembly clearly show that the people strongly believe he is the only one among the three contenders who could properly represent their interest in national affairs.
If the APC is smart, it should give Goje all the necessary support to ensure he becomes the senate president in June. The party should be thinking of 2023 and the leaders who could ensure victory for the party in all zones of the country. Clearly, none of the three contenders have the political clout of Goje in the north east zone. Given him the senate presidency would help APC consolidate when Buhari is no longer in the equation. This is what smart parties do to keep their party in power.
Several groups including the North East Consultative Forum (NESF) and five other groups in the geo-political zone, had endorsed Goje and asked him to declare his intention to contest for the office of the Senate president.
The groups including North East Elders Mobilization Forum, APC national youth caucus, Borno Discussion Circle, Gombe Political Associations and North East Youth Awareness for good governance, urged Goje to run.
The group followed up with a letter to the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole on their endorsement of Goje. In the letter, dated 17th April, titled: “North East stakeholders endorse Goje,” the conveners, Barrister Mustapha Saidu and Alhaji Bello Ambo, commended APC for zoning the Senate Presidency to the North East.
They said the zoning of the position to the geopolitical zone was a confirmation of the party’s commitment to reward hard work, following the zone’s contribution to the party’s victory in the just concluded general elections.
“Following very wide consultations among stakeholders, party members and North East Consultative Forum and after careful assessment of his contribution to the party and Muhammadu Buhari’s led administration, we hereby present to you, Senator Muhammad Danjuma Goje as the choice of the people of the North East for the Senate President of the 9th Assembly.”
Since that letter became public knowledge, no group or individuals in the north east has contradicted the claims contained in it.
Feelers from lobby groups in the national assembly show that Goje is the man to beat in the race for the senate leadership. More and more legislators are said to be jumping on the Goje train. His admirers are impressed that he has an unblemished administrative and legislative record after so many years in governance. Not many are able to pull this off.
Compared to Lawan or Ndume, Goje would undoubtedly bring prestige and integrity to the office of the senate president. These are the attributes the next senate president must bring to the office if the national assembly wants to be taken seriously by Nigerians and the world.
-Mr. Anufor writes from Abuja
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