The Nigeria Army has evolved over the years and maintained a motion as a virile formidable force acclaimed both locally and globally. It has witnessed several transformations under the leadership of the outgoing chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Abdurrahman Bello Dambazau. CHIBUZOR OLI looks at the period
The Nigerian army has witnessed a lot of transformations under the leadership of the outgoing Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen Abdurrahman Bello Dambazau. His appointment as the chief of Army on August 27, this year made him the 17th in the chronicle of command of the Nigerian Army. On assumption of command, he had a clear-cut vision for the Army as his administration touched almost all areas that benefited the force in terms of their duties. Dambazau came up with a policy statement of a vision to ensure that the Nigerian Army continues to be the pride of the nation with capacity to effectively discharge its constitutional responsibilities and meet contemporary challenges through training and discipline.
He ensured that there was effective utilisation of available resources, command and control, observance of the rule of law and excellent civil-military relations. These perhaps spurred him into motivating officers and soldiers towards making giant strides in direct labour projects, troops lift capacity, civil-military relations, prompt payment of PSO allowances, accreditation of NAPKC, counter insurgence formation, regimental mass band and others.
In terms of troops Lift Capacity, the Dambazau administration adopted a number of measures to improve troops lift capacity. In this regard, the army acquired a number of buses and also refurbished old ones. Forward Operation Bases (FOBs) were established in Abuja and Lagos to serve as transit points for military personnel being inducted or de-inducted in the missions.
These FOBs improved capacity and enhanced troops comfort and welfare. Some of the buses were assigned to the FOBs for conveying rotating troops on PSOs, while others were for conveying troops to and from work in Abuja and some of the major cities in the country particularly Lagos. The action has not only eased transportation of troops, but also minimised soldier/civilian clashes and improved civilian-military relations.
The outgoing COAS was also interested in maintaining an excellent Civil Military Relation. A number of projects were carried out in the area during his administration. For example, occasional sanitation exercises and free medical services were rendered to the general public. The DUNAMIS Church Road Project undertaken by the Nigerian Army engineers was in line with this principle. Others include rehabilitation of 44 NARHK and Command Workshop, Rigachukun in Kaduna that served both army personnel and the general public.
Also, the administration saw the need for professionalism in the field of public relations to impact more on the targeted excellent civil-military relations. This led to the establishment of the Nigerian Army School of Public Relations and Information (NASPRI) to cater for all training needs in contemporary military public relations and information. Public enlightenment vehicles were also procured and commissioned into operation. The vigorous pursuit of these excellent civil-military relations has earned him the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) honorary fellowship of the Institute.
It was also during his administration that the Nigeria army peacekeeping centre was accredited. As part of the Nigerian Army’s effort to enhance the United Nations (UN) peace support initiatives, the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre in Jaji at present runs structured peacekeeping courses for military observers, command and staff operations skills, train-the-trainers and pre-deployment for officers and soldiers as well as other courses.
Furthermore, it is to Dambazau’s credit that the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre (NAPKC) was recognised by the UN as a centre of excellence for training in peace support operations. The accreditation represents a formal endorsement of the quality of training in the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre in Jaji, Kaduna.
A counter-insurgency formation was also recently established in the force to meet up with challenges in today’s conflict management. Minister of Defence, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN), showered encomium on the Army while laying the foundation stone of the Counter Insurgency Centre recently.
In order to remove the problem of mistaken identity and check misuse of uniforms by unscrupulous elements usually impersonating Nigerian Army personnel to create confusion in the society or perpetrate crimes, a new camouflage uniform was also designed under the outgoing COAS administration and already tested for issue to officers and soldiers. This action has helped improve civil-military relations.
The Army Headquarters complex was also renovated under the administration of the outgoing COAS. The Army Headquarters continues to wear a new look in both appearance and security measures to meet the corporate demands of the Nigerian Army.
More so, under his administration and for the first time, the Army was able to form up a regimental mass band from all its formations, which demonstrated a mass band display in the 2010 Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL). This is part of regimentation to boost the morale of troops and psychological entertainment of the general public that is an element of contemporary civil-military relations.
During the period under review, allowances of officers and soldiers on PSOs were also paid as at when due. This has shored up troops morale generally. Indeed, the Nigerian Army under Gen Dambazau was largely considered to be eventful and remarkable in all ramifications.
The gains derived from his leadership will continue to enhance military professionalism and showcase its relevance in national development. It will also help to consolidate the excellent civil-military relations so far attained.