The new Minister of Defence, Brigadier General (rtd) Monsur Dan-Ali on Friday stirred up a hornet’s nest by remarking that the immediate past Chief of Army Staff (CoAS), Lt-Gen. Kenneth Minimah (rtd) and the Nigerian Army under him did not show respect for President Muhammadu Buhari during his WAEC certificate controversy before the 2015 general election.
Dan-Ali, who assumed duties at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Abuja, began his tenure on a note many regarded as controversial by opening old wounds concerning the Buhari certificate crisis without backing it up with facts.
The new Minister of Defence told the officers at the MoD: “Where is your integrity when your own Chief of Army Staff (Minimah) stood up and said his Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (sic) has no WAEC. How? Please let us be sincere with ourselves. Because you should have stood up and said ‘no’; because you were there, you could not. If you leave the job, is it the end of your life? If you leave the job there are other ways; better ways God can bless your life.”
During the heat of the certificate crisis preceding the 2015 elections, Buhari claimed that his original WAEC certificate was with the military authorities. But the military denied it.
Dan-Ali also said President Buhari was a man of integrity who had clearly and openly shown that he was ready to fight insurgency in Nigeria.
To this end, Dan-Ali urged the officers and men of the armed forces to imbibe the spirit of integrity, honesty and transparency in their work, which he noted, is the hallmark of excellent leadership.
“Gentlemen, the military is all about leadership. The President is a military man and he had shown leadership. Whether you like it or not, the President is a military man and he has shown leadership. We, the followers must show leadership. And what is leadership if I may ask? Leadership is all about integrity, honesty and transparency.
“There cannot be a good leader without these three things. You cannot be a good leader if you do not have integrity. You cannot be a good leader if you don’t have honesty, so also, transparency. Forget about corruption. Corruption can never come near you if you have these qualities. So gentlemen, we should imbibe these three qualities,” he said.
Speaking further, Dan-Ali promised to improve military welfare, and as well as resolve the nagging troops rotation problem, especially those involved in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations against the Boko Haram in the North-east.
He frowned at the situation where some officers and men had been deployed to the conflict zones for years without being replaced and directed that no personnel should be allowed to stay in a conflict zone for more than one year.
“On troops rotation; gentlemen, let’s not take it as a joke. If the Chief of Army Staff is deployed in the front without seeing his family, how would he feel? So also the soldiers you are sending there? Please for God sake, let’s make it maximum, one year. I will ensure that it is my cardinal principle that no soldier… unless, it is not possible, exceeds the maximum of one year,” he said.
In a related development, the minister called for accountability in procurement of arms and as well as cooperation amongst different military services and other security agencies.
Dan-Ali also stated that the changes in strategy introduced by the Buhari administration had ensured that the terrorists are defeated well ahead of the December deadline.
“The APC has promised even before the coming of the Buhari administration that they would fight insurgency. The terrorists are on their way out. Even before the December deadline, they would be routed. I am not in doubt that Nigerian soldiers are the best and among the best in the one,” he said.
Earlier, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, who spoke on behalf of other Service Chiefs, described the appointment of the new Minister of Defence an inspiring “home-coming”
Military repels Boko Haram in Gwoza…
It also emerged yesterday that Boko Haram terrorists attacked Gwoza town, in southern Borno State but were repelled by the troops of Nigerian Army.
Addressing a press conference in Maiduguri, the Media Coordinator of Operation Lafiya Dole, Colonel Tukur Gusau said the terrorist group despite their obvious losses made “a desperate but costly attempt to attack Nigerian Army in Gwoza.”
Gusau said: “The encounter which started at about 5.00am lasted for almost two hours. Although details are still being collated, suffice to state that seven terrorists were gunned down and the following weapons recovered; 1 Toyota Hilux vehicle, 11 AK-47 rifles, 1 Shilka Gun, 1 Rocket Propelled Grenade Tube, 6 Hand Grenades. Others include several rounds of Shilka Gun and Machine Gun ammunitions.
“Troops are at present on hot pursuit of the attackers who fled into Sambisa forest with a view to eliminating all of them while the Nigerian Air Force is bombarding their locations.”
He said the Boko Haram terrorists’ ability as a coherent fighting force had been degraded over time by troops through relentless attacks, patrols and aerial bombardments.
Gusau said: “The desperate attack today (Friday) was a failed attempt to project an image of strength. It is part of the last struggles of a dying evil.”
The spokesman also revealed that troops of 7 Division Garrison and 112 Task Force Battalion on Thursday while on fighting patrol recovered weapons in Busheshe village in Mafa axis of Borno State.
He revealed that the weapons recovered include two Hillux vans, two anti- aircraft guns, three 81-millimeter bombs, 101 60-millimeter bombs and twenty ammunition boxes.
Also recovered were 20 rocket professed guns, large quantity of 7.62 millimeter special ammunition and cache of different calibre of ammunitions.
He lamented that during the operations, one soldier was wounded but in a stable condition and currently in the hospital receiving medical care.
Dambazau promises to act with speed…
Also yesterday, the newly appointed Minister of Interior, Lieutenant General Abdulraman Dambazau (rtd) promised to swing into immediate action to ensure relative internal security in the shortest possible time.
The minister also said that Nigeria must do away with the state-centric security approach and adopt a people oriented human security approach.
Dambazau stated these Thursday evening in Abuja, at his inaugural meeting with directors in the ministry and Service Chiefs of para-military organisations under the ministry.