Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
For the first time since he assumed office as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday inaugurated the Armed Forces Council in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The inauguration came on the heels of the presidentâ€™s preparation for a two-day working visit to Ebonyi, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) state, and his first to the South-east since he assumed office, to commission a number of projects on Monday. He will return to Abuja on Tuesday.
Thereafter, Buhari and other party bigwigs, according to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), will join Tony Nwoye, the gubernatorial candidate of the party in Awka, Anambra State next Thursday for the grand finale of the candidateâ€™s campaign.
The Armed Forces Council as provided in Section 4 of the Armed Forces Act, is charged with the responsibility of administering the Armed Forces, including entrenching discipline among members of the Forces.
The inauguration, which was attended by the service chiefs and Minister of Defence, Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd.), also featured the first meeting of the council.
Speaking on the inauguration, Dan-Ali, who said the meeting of the council was last held in 2014, added that Thursdayâ€™s meeting considered matters of importance to the Armed Forces including the ratification of National Defence Policy 2017.
He stated that the council will also enhance the welfare, command, discipline and administration of the Armed Forces.
â€œThe Armed Forces Council was established by CAP A20 of Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and Section 4 of the Armed Forces Act, to among other things, be responsible under the general authority of Mr. President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, for command, discipline and administration of, and for all other matters related to the Armed Forces.
â€œThe last Armed Forces Council meeting was held on 17 July, 2014 during the last administration and there was therefore the need to convene the Armed Forces Council meeting in order to consider matters of great concern to the Armed Forces.
â€œIn line with the above, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the Armed Forces Council today 9th November 2017 at the State House, Abuja, to consider matters of great concern to the Armed Forces.
â€œSome of the matters considered include ratifications of the National Defence Policy 2017 (Revised), Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service Officers 2017 (Revised) and Harmonised Terms and Condition of Service Soldiers/Ratings/Army 2017 (Revised), amongst others.
â€œConsidering several transformations in terms of development as well as security challenges that have taken place in Nigeria, it is believed that the ratification of these documents will enable the Armed Forces cope with the ever changing contemporary security challenges.
â€œIt will also help to enhance welfare, command, discipline and administration of the Armed Forces as well as provide the policy framework governing the conduct of security and defence in Nigeria,â€ he explained.
Meanwhile, Buhari will on Monday pay a two-day working visit to Ebonyi State to commission a number of projects.
The state governor, Dave Umahi, who visited the president in the State House on the planned visit, listed the projects to include 23.5 kilometres of state roads and 500 kilometres of completed internal roads in the state, adding that there were other projects waiting for the president to commission in another 12 months when he will return to the state for his re-election campaign.
Asked if this implied that the president had discussed his re-election bid with him, Umahi said: â€œWell, any first term governor would want to go for second term and what you wish for yourself, you should be honest enough to wish another person the same. Since Mr. President is doing his first term and I am doing my first term, itâ€™s my wish to re-contest and I will as well wish the president the same to re-contest.â€
After his Ebonyi visit, Buhari is also expected to join other APC chieftains for the grand finale of the campaign of Nwoye who is flying the flag of the APC in the forthcoming Anambra governorship election.
Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha, while answering questions from State House correspondents last week, had disclosed that the president would soon begin a series of visits to the South-east with the intention of improving relations with the region ahead of the 2019 general election. Okorocha named Ebonyi as one of the states the president will visit.