Former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Oluseyi Olusegun Petinrin
By Senator Iroegbu
The immediate past Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Chief Oluseyi Olusegun Petinrin has advised members of the Nigerian Armed Forces to solely focus on their professional duties of defending the territorial integrity of the country and leave governance to politicians.
Petinrin made this call Friday at his pulling out parade in Mogadishu Military Cantonement (Abacha Barracks), Abuja to mark his retirement from the Nigerian Armed Forces after more than 35 years of meritorious service.
He cautioned the current crop of the military against coup since they cannot offer lasting political solution, and quoted Gen. Douglas MacArthur's speech while addressing cadets of the United States Military Academy on May 12, 1962 to drive home his points.
The former CDS told his former colleagues that there is no better alternative to democracy and reminded them how the military suffered untold neglect under military dictatorship.
He said:“Great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution.
“Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government: Whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing indulged in too long, by Federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as thorough and complete as the should be.
"These great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution…Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory, that if you lose, the Nation will be destroyed, that the very obsession of your public service must be duty, honour, country."
Speaking further he said: “My colleagues, leave governance to the politicians."
Petinrin lamented how the glory of the military that placed it on the global scene was eroded by the military intervention due to neglect until the sanity was restored with the emergence of democracy in 1999 just as he praised former President Olusegun Obasanjo, late President Umaru Yar Adua and the incumbent, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for helping the armed forces to stage a come-back.
He noted: “ The Armed Forces I joined in July 1974 was comparable to the best in the world. However, it suffered a decline from about mid-1988, suffering a host of sustenance challenges up until the restoration of democracy in 1999. Since then, our military has experienced a steady growth from the depths it had hit, developing into the great force that serves our nation today. It hasn’t reached the peak yet, but along with the sustenance of the democratic system, it will surely get there.
“Whether we like it or not, the Armed Forces of Nigeria is the element of national power of choice available to the National Command Authorities in their effort at maintaining our nation’s primary national interest; the Unity and Cohesion of Nigeria."
"Looking back, the resurrection of our military was nothing short of remarkable. Determined leaders transformed what was described as 'a pedestrian and demoralized and exhausted armed forces' to a virile, strong and capable armed forces.”
The retired Air Force Chief, however, advised the political class to be mindful of the welfare of the officers and men of the armed forces reminding them they are citizens of this country.
He also commended President Jonathan for having the qualities of a leader who understand the yearning and aspirations of the military.
Speaking further he said: “There is no doubt that our armed forces is still facing a host of serious challenges. One of them is the absence of an informed forum for the selection, acquisition and introduction into service of those national security capabilities required for the challenges facing our nation.
“Flowing from this are issues regarding provisioning for appropriate and adequate capabilities for the number of tasks the Federal Government of Nigeria gives us and also the inadequacies in the number and state of the barracks accommodation for our personnel. I sincerely hope that these and other challenges would be overcome in the not too distant future.
“Despite these challenges, we have made great strides. Your Armed Forces is still fighting fit, it is the force of choice for the UN and other regional bodies in Africa. We owe this to the doggedness and tenacity of the generals, admirals, air ranking officers and senior commissioned and non-commissioned officers.”
The event was well attended by all serving and former service chiefs led by his successor and current CDS, Admiral Ola Sa’aad Ibrahim, their wives, the Inspector General of Police, serving and former military top brass and former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola amongst others.