Irabor: Articulate Thoughts of a CDS in an Interview
By Mahmud Abdulsalam
He is always the delight of journalists for interviews. And when Gen. Leo Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) spoke with select defence correspondents, recently, the session was highly-explosive, mind-engaging and brilliantly revelatory.
There were several issues he addressed that only a CDS of vast erudition, profound intellect and uncommon sagacity in his calibre can effortlessly tackle.
Of course, the Defence Chief did not leave out the Nigerian military’s counter-insurgency war against Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, terrorists, as he eloquently spoke on a wide range of issues, during the interactive.
Strategies for Fighting Terrorism
Some of our tactics have changed but our vision remains the same – We want to bring an end to beginning of all terrorism. We are achieving these in collaboration with stakeholders in national security and defence.
Globally, terrorism has evolved in the last two decades. The case is not different in Nigeria. What we are doing differently is to be ahead of this evolving trend. The Armed Forces of Nigeria is more prepared for all scenarios.
Unfortunately, it will do us more harm than good if we go public to reveal all we have done or what we have stopped doing or will do. The good news is that in all scenarios, Nigeria will win. Let us never forget the words of Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Military Avoiding Defeat in N/East
A better way to look at it is that in the last 20 years, the military has won major battles in the North-East.
We have won most of our battles and that is why we are winning the war. This not just an opinion, it is the fact. The most recent evidence from the Global Terrorism Report confirms this.
A war is made up of several battles. In a perfect world, you plan to win everything but perfection never happens in war. Sometimes the way forward is backward. Sometimes you lose a battle to win the war.
Coups in Africa
First, let me make it clear that the probability of non-democratic leadership in Nigeria is zero. Rather than go back to our past, we have learnt from it. It is no longer an option. We are passing this message down the ladder.
Like Nigeria is doing, other African countries must strengthen their democratic processes rather than subvert it. Our findings reveal that one main reason for these negative events is when a leader overstays and loses focus. This causes government institutions to weaken and eventually the non-democratic take over.
Hiring Mercenaries for Insurgency
Where lays the loyalty of the foreign fighter, to Nigeria or self?
The men and women of the Armed Forces fight to protect Nigeria NOT because they are paid to do it. It is because they, we see it as a duty.
Certainly, we will continue to collaborate with other global powers and defense institutions, but we are not going to outsource our primary responsibility.
Complaints of Injustice Against Officers
There is a lot of misinformation and disinformation about the administrative codes and procedures of the Armed Forces.
Like our global partners, the military does not operate with court orders. A court martial is different from a civil court. The military has means to maintain discipline and order.
CSOs, NGOs Support for Non-Kinetic Peace Building
Just as nobody can use only one finger to write, the Armed Forces of Nigeria cannot write all the wrongs in security by itself.
There is a lot of work that some of these organizations have put in especially to protect women and children in the North East. A lot more still needs to be done on the non-kinetic approach to achieving peace.
Don’t forget that with respect to land area (size), the North East region is larger than the South-East, South-South and South West regions combined.
The terrain is difficult for most organizations. Many have provided support to communities in sectors such as health, education, construction and agriculture.
We are also making sure that resettlement is being done at places that are certified as safe. What we need is for more citizens to join the building of a better, safe and prosperous nation.
Military’s Role in 2023 Polls
The question is why should it be necessary for the military to go beyond its constitutional role?
The Armed Forces will continue to uphold the constitution and keep improving the state of peace in Nigeria.
We are going to keep our role simple-give support to the electoral body when we are requested to. Citizens would be given an environment to make them vote for their candidate of choice without fear. I guarantee you that hope will trump fear in 2023.
Mahmud Abdulsalam is an Assistant Editor PRNigeria
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