A lot has been written on the exploits of the Nigerian troops fighting Boko Haram Insurgency in North East Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari has also received commendation on the choice of Service Chiefs for the Army, Navy, and Airforce. But a few know about the Chief of Defence Staff and the unseen role he plays in coordinating the activities of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
As a start, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is the highest ranking military officer of the Nigerian Armed Forces. It is the duty and responsibility of the CDS to formulate and execute policies, programmes towards the highest attainment of National Security and operational competence of the Armed Forces namely; the Army, Navy and Air Force. The CDS is assisted by the Service Chiefs of the Army, Navy, and Airforce.
Having stated the above, it becomes clear that the CDS plays a critical role in the operational efficiency of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And in the context of the piece, it would suffice to state that the successes recorded by the Nigerian troops in North East Nigeria can be traced to the dexterity of the current CDS, General Abayomi Olonishakin.
What many do not know about the Gen. Abayomi Olonishakin is that he is a man of few words but plenty action. As a seasoned Signaller of the Nigeria Army, he has garnered peacekeeping experience in Nigeria and abroad in the course of his military career. For example, he participated in a United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III) peacekeeping mission that began operating in Angola in February 1995 during the civil war to facilitate the restoration of peace and the process of national reconciliation in Angola. To mention but a few.
Gen Olonisakin has been awarded Forces Service Star (FSS), Meritorious Service Star (MSS), Grand Service Star (GSS), Command Medal, Research Medal, Silver, and Golden Jubilee Medals. He also has in his kitty, the Corps Medal of Honour having commanded the Nigeria Army Signals Corps. What does this tell us?
It merely tells us that the CDS has done well in coordinating the Counter-Terrorism Initiatives of the Armed Forces. This is sufficing to state that as the CDS, he gives operational directives to the various Arms of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, and Airforce). Those in the know of the activities of the CDS attests to his workaholic nature. An insider once confided in me that the CDS monitors the operations of the Nigerian troops in North East Nigeria closely. And even though he doesn’t interfere in postings, he readily offers suggestions when any of the Service Chiefs makes postings that might backfire at the end of the day. That is how strategic and diplomatic he can be.
So in a way, I wasn’t surprised that in three years the Armed Forces was able to turn the tide against the Boko Haram Terrorist. And again, what some may not know about the CDS is that he was at a time the Commandant of the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) of the Nigerian Army. TRADOC is the intellectual arm of the Nigeria Army that offers pieces of advice, ideas and probable solutions to training and operational challenges of the Nigeria Army. Also when numerous divisions are committed concurrently in field operations, TRADOC automatically acts as a Corps Headquarters to coordinate, direct and control operational exigencies of the divisions. So his exploits as the CDS goes without fanfare because he is not meant to relate with the public directly. That is the role of the Service Chiefs. But instead, he is the unseen hand that pilots the affairs of the Armed Forces.
In my opinion, the unseen hand strategy has helped a great deal in delivering victories for the Armed Forces. Unlike in times past, where previous CDS delve into issues that were meant for the Service Chiefs thereby jeopardizing their efforts in the discharge of their duties.
According to insider sources in the Defence Headquarters, the CDS is nicknamed the “Strategist” because the bulk of the thinking and operational strategies that are implemented across the Armed Forces, emanates from his office, especially that of the Nigeria Army, been and the most active service involved in the counter-insurgency operations in North East Nigeria. Some also say he regularly undertake routine visits to the theatre of operations with publicity as he is one that abhors any form of publicity especially in the discharge of his duties. It was stated that he is also not disposed to cameras whenever he is on official assignment. He normally would say “cameras are for celebrities, and I am a soldier.”
This, in my opinion, contributed significantly to the operational successes we see and hear every day. This is indeed commendable, and an indication that one of the best gifts President Muhammadu Buhari bestowed on Nigeria is the choice of Service Chiefs, especially the Chief of Defence Staff and the Chief of Army Staff. They have both shown an unalloyed commitment to ending the Boko Haram Insurgency. And what I find fascinating about the CDS is the fact that under his watch the Armed Forces has stayed faithful to their professional engagements. They have also abided to the rules of engagement as well as fully integrated Civilian-Military relations.
I know for a certain that the end of Boko Haram is near. The effort of the CDS has helped a great deal in the Boko Haram war. This much the various Service Chiefs can attest to.
Ainoko is a pubic affairs commentator based in Kaduna.
The All Deserving Hameed Ali
By Abe Kolawole
It is that time again when hard work and dedication to duty and fatherland is rewarded. When I learned of the Sir Ahmadu Bello Sardauna Legacy for True Leadership Awards as put together by the Arewa Youth Council, I leaped for joy for very obvious reasons. Chiefly amongst them is the fact that the award would seek to promote hard work and dedication to duty of its recipient.
I went into deep thoughts on who is deserving of the award in the avalanche of people that have been nominated. I was somewhat confused because the various nominees have indeed distinguished themselves in service to the fatherland. But one name struck me so hard that I had to devote substantial time to study him and his contributions to the growth and development of Nigeria. In my research on this notable individual, I was astonished on how he has made a mark in the sands of time within three years. Enter the world of Hameed Ali, the incumbent Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service.
Under his watch, the Nigerian Customs Service has posted brilliant results regarding revenue generation. In 2017, The Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, recorded its highest revenue collection ever of over N1 trillion as against N770 billion target set for 2017. According to the Public Relations Officer of the NCS, he stated that the Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC), undertook some strategic measures regarding restructuring and repositioning the service for efficient service delivery which resulted in this historic revenue figure from the service this year.
Also, in May 2018, the NCS recorded its highest-ever monthly revenue collection of N100.1billion. The list is quite inexhaustible and a testament of the numerous reforms that was introduced by the Comptroller General. I must add that I was also surprised that all of these could be achieved in a sector that has been hijacked by a notorious cartel. Previously we were witness to the shady deals in the Nigeria Customs Service. It was so bad that we fear that at some point, the country would collapse before our very eyes because of the criminality ongoing at the borders and ports.
But fast-forward to 2018, the exploits of the Nigerian Customs Service has improved tremendously that accolades are not in short supply. Also, the operational effectiveness of the NCS improved tremendously that we witnessed lots of interceptions at the seaports, airports and land borders. Worthy of mention are the several interceptions of rifles, ammunition, military uniforms, military hardware and other dangerous items by men of the NCS.
What this tells us is that the days of the jackal are over. And sanity restored to the system. I must also add that it is only a brave heart that can embark of such a mission considered suicidal in a way given the various interests represented there. But Col. Hameed Ali proved his mettle. He also showed that the era of business, as usual, has ended regarding undue interference by political institutions and office holders.
A good example was seen in his rift with the Senate of the National Assembly where as usual they tried to intimidate him into surrendering to their whims and caprices by resorting to blackmail and other untoward means. But guess what, he didn’t succumb to the threats and stood on the path of the truth. What impressed me was that if he was someone that had skeletons in his cupboard, I am sure he wouldn’t have taken the tough stance. Instead, he would have negotiated and sort for relief. That speaks a lot about integrity and service to the fatherland. I recall at a forum, Col. Hameed Ali stated that “I took this job because of my commitment to serve this country selflessly, having earlier done so in the military. So, nobody can tell me that am not a committed Nigerian,” and I could not agree less. This commitment to the Nigerian cause is what endeared him to my heart that I decided to pen this article.
The Arewa Youth Council should do well to recognize the gift of Col. Hameed Ali and look no further for that individual that fits the award. I say this with all sense of modesty because there must have been a reason why President Muhammadu Buhari so appointed him the head the NCS. And in my opinion, the reason was to sanitize the NCS and confront the vicious cartel that has held the country to ransom. And it is to the credit of Col. Hameed Ali that the NCS has bounced back to operational efficiency and recording improved revenue generation.
It is thus my considered opinion that Col. Hameed Ali is all deserving in recognition of his invaluable contribution to the fatherland. And to think that since he was appointed the Comptroller General of Customs, there hasn’t been a single scandal in the operations of the NCS. If this is not phenomenal, I do not know what to call it.
And so, the Sir Ahmadu Bello Sardauna Legacy for True Leadership Awards fits his cap perfectly in my opinion. It is hoped that men like Col. Hameed Ali would be given the due recognition that they deserve in a country like Nigeria because they need to be encouraged to continue to render selfless service for the continued growth and development of Nigeria. And who knows if this award can further spur him to greatness.
Kolawole, former PRO, National Association of Nigerian Students [NANS] wrote from Lagos.