CDS Olonishakin and Nigeria’s Rising Military Profile In Africa

By Jessica Angula

Without any attempt to flatter, a dispassionate assessment of the appointees, President Muhammedu Buhari has made in sensitive areas reflect his innate persona and leadership qualities. They are usually honest, strict, thorough, focused and brutally blunt in the performance of official duties.

Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin is one such appointee of the Buhari administration who is an exact replica of President Buhari’s disposition towards leadership. As CDS, it means his input and influence is required by each and all arms of Nigeria’s Armed Forces to wit: the Nigerian Army (NA) the Nigerian Navy Service (NNS) and the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to achieve the highest level of national security and the field operational competence of the military.

By implication, the failure of any arm of the armed forces in any assignment is a direct shadow of his leadership failure; much as their success infinitely illustrates his leadership dexterity and co-coordinative capabilities . Gen Olonishakin is not just conscious of this leadership burden on him, but is mindful of it in his interactions with the various arms of the armed forces at all times. He is also aware that Africa looks unto the Nigeria’s military as source of inspiration and where Nigeria fails, it is a loud statement about the presumed failure of the entire continent.

It is public knowledge that the Nigerian military is facing its most engaging moments, in the history of the country. Assorted internal crimes of a violent nature have taken over the space of reason and sanity in some polluted souls. The excitement of indulgence in violent crimes and deliberate economic sabotage have unavoidably heightened insecurity on land, air and the waterways in Nigeria. Constant security vigilance by the Nigerian military have been the saving grace. But fortunately, the Nigerian military under the current dispensation deployed on any rescue mission, after failure of regular or civil security to combat such felonies, always prove their mettle beyond doubt.

And in the near two years the present breed of Service Chiefs were elevated to such positions of service, the Nigerian military has proved in soul and spirit of its messianic mission. It has redeemed and reclaimed Nigeria from dark forces and every step of this success is largely the sterling leadership qualities and engagement of the tripartite arms of the Nigerian military by the CDS.

For instance, a glimpse into the operations of the Nigerian Navy Service headed by the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, especially in the Niger Delta region, reveals the worth and relevance of a military structured and elected for success under a competent CDS. The extent these military officers stake their necks or make uncommon sacrifices to secure Nigeria’s oil wealth is exceptional. .

They are daily in the creeks of the Niger Delta and the high seas battling dangerously armed sea pirates, illegal oil bunkers’/thieves, illegal arms and ammunitions importation racketeers, criminal outings of militants groups in the region and economic saboteurs’. They protect and shield Nigeria’s sovereign waters from becoming the havens of criminals and other unapproved invasions by external forces or enemies. When the Nigerian Navy tackles these criminals on the high sea, the Nigeria Airforce under the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar supports the efforts with airstrikes where necessary, a perfect illustration of the smooth synergy among the Nigerian military.

Providing responsive leadership in Nigeria is a herculean task. But the CDS has thrown his hat into the ring, which is responsible for the strings of victories of the various outings of the military under his watch. The NNS battles, arrest of suspected criminals and handing them over to prosecuting authorities and the recovery stolen vessels of crude oil and destruction of illegal refineries is a classic statement about the CDS, Gen. Olonisakin’s leadership efficacy of the Nigerian military.

If Nigeria is rapidly regaining some economic strength from the recession, it is a consequence of the proactive and relentless actions of the military in protecting the oil wealth of the nation. It is mainly secured against the criminal activities of some unscrupulous elements by the Nigerian Navy.

While working for excellence, the CDS ensures military officers are placed on the highest altitude of retraining on all aspects, including intelligence gathering to keep them fit for operations at all times. And this is a constant routine, as exemplified by plans in the offing for the Nigerian Navy to again harness the benefits of external collaboration to better discern and tackle the ever evolving challenges of global maritime security.

For instance, the Nigerian Navy Day 2017 celebration slated to hold June 1st is planned to coincide with the arrival of the latest engineering masterpiece of the Indian Naval warship, code named INS Tarkash in Lagos. The warship is a modern frigate commissioned into the Indian Navy on November 9, 2012, which boasts of a crew of 300 and a high-density capacity of weapons and sensors to jointly conduct military exercises with Nigerian Navy after the Navy Day. It is a loud statement about the CDS’s continuous exposure of Nigerian military to modern knowledge and expertise in warfare.

Nigerians are living witnesses to the horror, torments and pains inflicted on the people by the Boko Haram insurgency. The agonies and scars Boko Haram Terrorism deposited in many families and on Nigeria are relics that would eternally invoke psychological pains to millions. But under a competent Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai and the active support of the office and skills of the CDS, the counter-insurgency campaigns recorded a resounding victory within record time as directed by President Buhari.

The CDS, Gen. Olonisakin has always been an integral part of the planning and execution of the strategies and tactics that humbled and eventually defeated Boko Haram insurgents . He consented to the exchange of resourceful ideas with foreign countries on combating acts of terrorism and ensured the knowledge exchanges between the Nigerian military and its foreign allies is ultimately utilized.

Under the CDS’s watch, the different arms of the military enjoy a seamless synergy and field operations harmony in the collective aspiration to battle terrorism that ruined Nigeria. While Buratai’s ground troops moved against terrorists with fearlessness and calm mien, aiming at targets with military precision, the Nigerian Airforce complemented the efforts with airstrikes on Boko Haram abodes and hideouts.

Gen. Olonisakin re-oriented the Nigerian military to perceive their special assignments as collectively working for national security, the preservation of Nigeria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. This inculcated values ensured the operational co-operation among troops, which was very instrumental to the reclamation of most of the Nigerian territories annexed by Boko Haram terrorists.

The capture of the hitherto dreaded Sambisa forest by Nigerian troops was movingly dramatic. While land troops advanced at the target, air force fighter jets secured the airspace against external interference with the military operations by Boko Haram terrorists foreign allies.

There is no gainsaying, grounds troops blocked sources of food and ammunitions supply to terrorists in Nigeria. The e Nigerian Air Force also prevented such supplies through the air. This perfect working harmony and blend of operational ideas collectively yielded the respite and peace Nigerians enjoy from the defeat of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs).

And in most instances, the CDS went the extra-mile to supervise operations, ensure adherence to orderliness, much as he emphasized professionalism of troops on special assignments. And where there were problems or noticeable lapses, he would not hesitate, but move swiftly to dialogue with other Service Chiefs for immediate solutions who perceived themselves as members of one family. Gen. Olonisakin partnered with all and sundry, including the media, to create the enabling environment for the military to thrive excellently and made every stakeholder believe all are battling to secure national security.

The CDS’s Vision on assumption of duty as enunciated was “To ensure a well -motivated, trained and equipped Armed Forces that is responsive to national security commitments.” And he has lived his vision in the near two years of his leadership of the Nigerian military as CDS.

Today, Africa and the world celebrate Nigeria for wriggling out of very complex insecurity problems. These were insecurity problems that had he potency to explode into a major national crisis, as experiences in countries with less of such problems have indicated. But the Nigerian military eclipsed the doomsday on Nigeria and the credit goes to President Buhari, the CDS, and his Service Chiefs for the wonderful and commendable outing.

It explains whey Africa has not lost hope in its recovery into a prosperous continent and the Nigerian military is often pleaded to assist on special military expeditions in African countries. This has been re-echoed by the recent visit of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General (SRSG) for UNMIL (United Nations Military In Liberia). Mr. Farid Zarif to Nigeria’s CDS , Gen. Olonisakin at Defence Headquarters Abuja, requesting assistance of Nigerian military to assist Liberians transit peacefully to another democratic government. Mr. Zarif endearing described the anticipated presence of the Nigerian Military, as serving as deterrence and enthroning psychology comfort in Liberians.

Angula, who is an Oil and Gas expert writes from the United Kingdom.

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