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Buratai: Nigerian Army’s Symbol Of Discipline – By Nkechi Odoma

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The office of the Chief of Army Staff ( COAS) is powerful anywhere by every yardstick of perception. The occupant of the exalted office, and in the case of Nigeria now, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai who wears a second heavier badge as leader, counter- insurgency operations is an influential personality by all standards.

As Nigeria’s number one soldier, the COAS wields enormous powers both within and outside military circles. And in the age of perennial and festering insurgency in Nigeria, Gen. Buratai ought to have been egoistic as Nigeria’s most priced warrior or man of valour.

Others in his position would have been prancing the Nigerian space with panache, haughtiness and magisterial aura for decimating and significantly crumbling Boko Haram insurgents. It is an uncommon feat.

And it is the experience of Nigerians with most previous occupants of the esteemed office of COAS, even when they have nothing to show as positive results for the war against terrorism. But such officers usually have enough pride and prompting for showmanship.

But Gen. Buratai’s humility, discipline and simplicity is remarkably unparalleled with some of his professional colleagues, including those of lesser status. He is always in control of himself in decency; he does not allow the aura of his exalted position usurp and suspend his senses as evident in his public outings and interactions with soldiers, and Nigerian public consistently.

He is grandiose in thoughts and calculative in actions. For ages, the people knew, an average Nigerian soldier is traditionally brash, brutish, fastidious, beast-like and permenantly callous. But even as the leader of Nigerian Army, Gen. Buratai is the direct opposite of the aforementioned traits.

Although a crack soldier, rugged and rough in the trenches, but the Army General and leader of counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria is unassuming, amiable, honest, blunt and a level-headed team player. He walks into a public place and departs unannounced, unlike other high-profile personalities.

And right from childhood, Gen. Buratai imbibed the virtues of discipline, self-esteem, hard work, truthfulness and preseverance. He has nurtured and grown up with these qualities. A strict soldier to a fault, Gen. Buratai is a stickler to excellence, timeliness and obligations he covenants with people.

These personal principles have endured in Buratai throughout his military career. They have been his source of nourishment especially when he began holding leadership positions in the Army. For years, he commanded the several special operations launched against militants in the Niger Delta. And thereafter, he participated in United Nations Observer Missions/assignments in Angola and elsewhere in the world, emerging with worthy medals in virtually all instances.

Therefore, upon his appointment as the COAS, by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, Gen. Buratai met an Army that was unprofessional, undisciplined, disloyal, unpatriotic and frustratingly weak. It is mild statement to say, he inherited an Army was in complete disarray.

Many may hate to recount, but it was a national shame and disgrace that Nigeria had an army that faltered before Boko Haram insurgents or shirked womanishly in the frontline of battles with terrorists. Buratai knew, an effeminate Army was the worse thing that could ever happen to a country.

Instantly, Gen. Buratai realized at once that a burden has been placed on his head to rebrand the Nigerian Army into a professionally responsible and responsive institution worthy of a great nation like Nigeria. He had the daunting task of remoulding Army personnel to align with it’s core constitutional mandate of preserving, safeguarding and protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nigeria.

Gen. Buratai hit the ground running, by immediately touring Army Divisions and Formations throughout the country. The visits afforded him a platform of personal interactions with officers and personnel. He gathered firsthand information about their problems and afflictions.

There was no time to waste, as the fire of a raging Boko Haram insurgency need to be urgently extinguished. The Army Chief instantly solved interim problems afflicting the Army such as poor or lack of fighting equipments, unpaid or delayed salaries and allowances which dampened the spirit of soldiers in confronting terrorism.

Going forward, he introduced welfare schemes such as ownership of personal houses by soldiers in retirement, expansion of office and barracks accomodations, alongside renovation of existing Army establishments across the federation.

Gen. Buratai introduced reforms and innovations in the Army which were strictly anchored on discipline, loyalty, patriotism, hard work, transparency and honesty, as pathfinders, which morally, pyschologically and physically prepared the Army for excellence in the performance of it’s constitutional responsibilities.

These were achieved via training and retraining of Army personnel through workshops, seminars and scholarly courses in specialised military institutions. Gen. Buratai’s creed which is popularised and has become a singsong in the Army is strict adherence to oath of office, professional ethics and Rules of Engagement ( ROE) at all times, whether on Internal Security (IS) special assignments or battling the religious extremist sect, Boko Haram.

It is to Gen. Buratai’s credit that a reformed Nigerian Army is substantially complying with the defined operational creeds, as soldiers are aware of Buratai’s zero tolerance for professional misconduct. And soldiers also knows, he does not fail to punish erring soldiers each time one is found culpable.

The Army Chief’s aversion to soldiers human rights violations of Nigerians is infectious. Apart from ensuring a smooth Army/ civil relations, Gen. Buratai has established a Human Rights Desk at the Army Headquarters ( AHQs) and replicated same in all major Army Divisions for ease of access to members of the public with such complaints against soldiers.

Today, and through the perfect reorientation of the Army by Gen. Buratai, soldiers are now served court summons by civilians who have disputes with them. And they appear in court to defend their actions in accordance with laws of the land. This was impossible in the immediate past history of the Nigerian Army and alien in civil/ military interactions.

But notwithstanding the stiff discipline imposed on the Army by Gen. Buratai, there are a few bad eggs who deviate from the norms by violating the code of conduct or creed of professionalism as persistently trumpeted. It’s not in doubt that every institution or system has it’s share of deviants.

However, Gen. Buratai spares no one caught in the ring over any professional misconduct. He has been consistent in punishing every established infraction by any soldier, no matter his rank. Those who have tested and relished Gen. Buratai’s affection for his personnel, but rewarded it with engaging in professional misconduct usually encounter him at a sour point.

Recent examples would suffice and for instance, by end of 2018, the General Court Martial (GCM) sitting in Maimalari Cantonment Maiduguri, Borno State handed down different punishments to
five personnel of the Nigerian Army for various offences.

President of the Court Martial, Brig. Gen. Olusegun Adesina revealed that the offences hinged on cowardice, negligence, abduction and indiscipline.

So, Captain Alhamdu Kwasau was found guilty of cowardly behaviour and negligence while on military duty. He had his rank of Captain reduced to a Lieutenant with two years lost of seniority.

The second and third accused officers, Captain Jimen Babangida and Lieutenant Sanusi Bello were also found guilty of conduct prejudiced to service discipline and were punished variously by the GCM.

Also, Sergeant Aliyu Hassan and Lance Corporal Bello Nasiru were found guilty by the GCM on offences bordering on abduction or attempts to commit abduction and extortions. They were sentenced to as much as five years imprisonment on different counts, aside demotion in ranks.

Similarly, last week, the Nigerian Army arrested a soldier, Ajayi Johnson who allegedly shot dead a commercial motorcyclist Chimaobi Nwaorgu of Umuokereke-Ngwa community in Obingwa Local Government Area, of Abia State.

The acussed soldier has not only been b arrested, but detained and the disciplinary procedure of trial is in progress in accordance with extant military laws. And if found guilty, he will be dismissed and handed over to the police for civil prosecution.

Additionally and in some instances, Gen. Buratai has had cause ton dismiss soldiers who indulged in professional misconduct and compromised the integrity and tainted the reputation of the Army as an institution.

In 2016, at least 38 Army personnel deployed on election duty were dismissed from the Nigerian Army for professional misconduct, as a disciplinary measure to serve as deterrence to others. And when Nigerians saw the vehemence Senior Army officers resisted alleged financial inducements by the Rivers State Gov. Nyesom Wike to compromise the 2019 general elections in the state, it was a loud testimony of Gen. Buratai’s reformation and rebranding of the Army.

Therefore, there is no doubt that Gen. Buratai is the Nigerian Army’s shining portrait of discipline and mirror of excellence. His dream and efforts at making the Nigerian Army one of the best in the world is gradually coming to fruition with a drastic reduction in incidents of professional misconducts by Army personnel generally.

Nigerians must necessarily spot the thin dividing line between an individual bad soldier and the institution of the reverred Nigerian Army. Much as they are intertwined, but there are slight differences.

Odoma wrote this piece from Garki, Abuja

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What Does Boss Mustapha Want From Ministry of Power? – By Edem Edem

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Anyone reading through a circular dated 19th May, 2020, from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) will only arrive at one solemn fact: Boss Mustapha is untowardly interested in goings on in the power sector. And his actions have begin to re-inforce talks in various quarters that he is a major beneficiary of the proceeds of darkness. The circular, in short, was a direct response to the sacking of the TCN MD by President Muhammadu Buhari on the recommendation of the Honourable Minister of Power, Eng Sale Mamman – an action that was popular as it was necessary. The circular, citing all sorts of rules, said the minister lacked the power to sack the erring MD. But nothing could be further from the truth. And this latest adventure clearly shows he is on a collision course with his own boss the President himself. Is he trying to over rule his own employer?

Because for those watching events closely, this may yet be another move to humiliate the minister by reversing a very effective decision just as it happened earlier this year. If that happens again, it would be an unmitigated tragedy both for national leadership, cohesion and indeed the entire power sector.

I’m a power sector activist so I should know. Many of the decisions taken by the minister are not only right but actually necessary if we must wade out of the embarrassing darkness we found ourselves. But officialdom, small minded meddlesomeness, and outright corruption keep getting in the way. The activities of Boss Mustapha in particular are worrisome.

I have some questions for Boss Mustapha.

1. Why does he always become restive with anything in the power Ministry?

2. Why didn’t he say all of these when the minister of communications, for instance, made some changes recently in top position of that Ministry?

3. Why didn’t we hear his (Boss) voice when similar reorganisation happened in key parastatal of the Ministry of Humanitarian Services when DG NEMA was replaced

4. Is it true the rumours making the rounds that he (Boss) benefits directly from some agencies within the power Ministry? The speed with which he acted when NBET MD was sacked is still fresh in my mind.

5. Is Boss Mustapha angry with the minister because SIEMENS company got a contract he is interested in? Why has be been so hard on local contractors making it difficult for them to meet targets.

Things to ponder

Nigerians will sooner or later have to chose between effectiveness and strangulating official procedures in addressing the power sector conundrum. The honourable minister must be empowered to go beyond those administrative red-tapism to deal with matters heads on. Procedures are great but not when an emergency like we have now has to be addressed.

The removal of the TCN boss was greeted with widespread jubilation in the industry especially by Patriots who want to see an end to darkness. The former MD was practically against the FG’s effort with SIEMENS and was openly granting interviews against the company due to his vested interest. By replacing him with a sound professional, Eng Abdulaziz, the minister demonstrated that he was willing and in fact, capable of delivering on his mandate. He, the minister, must not be frustrated in this bid. And Boss Mustapha must clearly know his place at the Federal Executive Council. A minister of the federal republic is clearly ahead of him in the Federal Executive Council (FEC). He must not be seen as rubbing shoulders with his superiors.

Edem Edem is a power sector watcher based in Sweden

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The Many Lies Against Senator Godswill Akpabio And Why The Persecutions – By Dr. Mike Uyi

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It is said that the greatest enemy of a lier is a man with a good and unforgettable memomry.

Such is the case of the accusers of the honourable minister of Niger Delta Goodswill Akpabio.

First and foremost lets get back to history lane to understand a little about the Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC)

The Commission was one of several interventionist agencies established by Obasanjo governments in 2000 with the mission of facilitating the rapid, even and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful.

The NDDC was mandated to carry out the following functions by the Act setting it up. They are: “Formulation of policies and guidelines for the development of the Niger Delta area; conception, planning and implementation, in accordance with set rules and regulations, of projects and programmes for sustainable development of the Niger Delta area in the field of transportation including roads, jetties and waterways, health, employment, industrialisation, agriculture and fisheries, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and telecommunications; surveying the Niger Delta in order to ascertain measures necessary to promote its physical and socio-economic development and preparing master plans and schemes designed to promote the physical development of the Niger Delta region and the estimation of the member states of the commission.”

Others are: “Implementation of all the measures approved for the development of the Niger Delta region by the Federal Government and the states of the commission; identify factors inhibiting the development of the Niger Delta region and assist the member states in the formulation and implementation of policies to ensure sound and efficient management of the resources of the Niger Delta region and assessing and reporting on any project being funded or carried out in the region by oil and gas companies and any other company, including non-governmental organisations, as well as ensuring that funds released for such projects are properly utilised.”

Not only that, the NDDC is saddled with the responsibility of “tackling ecological and environmental problems that arise from the exploration of oil mineral in the Niger Delta region and advising the Federal Government and the member states on the prevention and control of oil spillages, gas flaring and environmental pollution; liaising with the various oil mineral and gas prospecting and producing companies on all matters of pollution, prevention and control as well as executing such other works and performing such other functions, which in the option of the commission are required for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region and its people.

Nineteen years on, what is the scorecard of the NDDC? Abysmal! The commission is almost always in the news for the wrong reasons. The agency is simply a cesspool of corruption. At least, that is the impression many Niger Deltans and indeed Nigerians have about the commission. Below are some of the corruption allegations against the agency. In August 2008, President Umaru Yar’Adua ordered an investigation into allegations that the then Chairman of the agency, Ambassador Sam Edem, spent N1bn to secure the services of a sorcerer to employ spiritual means to enable him get contracts from the Akwa Ibom State Government. In August 2015, the then Auditor General of the Federation, Samuel Ukura, said that at least N183bn that was meant for the development of the Niger Delta was diverted by those put in charge of the commission.

In July 2017, a former Managing Director, Nsima Ekere, announced the revocation of over 600 contracts worth N200bn. According to him, the rationale behind the action was because the management discovered that some of the contracts were either not properly awarded or some of them were awarded but the contractors had not yet gone to site. Hear him, “Some of the contracts were awarded as late as 2002 with some of the contractors collecting advance payments from the commission with zero work done at the sites. So, we terminated these contracts worth about N200bn, which is the first phase of our restructuring the commission’s balance sheet,” he said.

Just in October, the Senate said it was probing the award of the Water Hyacinth Emergency and Desilting Contracts awarded by the agency from 2017 to 2019. The Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, made this known when the Director, Special Duties of the NDDC, Nosakhare Agbongiasede, appeared before the committee in Abuja. Urhoghide said investigation became imperative because the initial cost of the contract at N2.5bn was allegedly increased to N65bn.

On Saturday, October 26, 2019 on the Nigerian Television Authority, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, said corruption and political interference had disrupted the original purpose of setting up the commission. He said the NDDC was noted for substandard and abandoned projects. He said inter alia, “We currently have about 12,000 abandoned projects across the nine states of the Niger Delta. If those things were completed, you can imagine that the area would have been turned into an Eldorado… I think people were treating the place as an ATM, where you just walk in there to go and pluck money and go away. I don’t think they were looking at it as an interventionist agency.”

When Godswill Akpabio was announced as minister of Niger Delta affairs ofcourse that sent a strong message to the enemies of the region and Nigeria as a whole, people who had turn the commission into ATM as stated clearly by the Minister knew that it was never going to be business as usual.

When you fight corruption get ready for corruption must fight back. Here are a few questions to ask those who are all of a sudden protesting against the Minister alleging him to be corrupt.

1) Who was the head of the commission when all the above listed corruption cases in NDDC were recorded? The answer is simple ,Certainly not Godswill Akpabio.

2) Where were the powerful over night PETITION writers for 20years of ransom by the cabal of OMPADIC ?

3) Where were the paid youths and untrained detective appearing on stage with strange facts and figures of anticipated fraud by the new messiah dislodged from the pinnacle of powers?

4) Where were the present gang up LEADERS when the only manifestos on ground in NDDC was how to sponsor VIOLENCE to supress any voice rising against UNDEVELOPMENT of NIGER DELTA?

5) Where were they when billions of Naira was paid as RENTS into private hands at the expense of nine Niger Delta states?

6) If AKPABIO WAS corrupt why did he not colaborate with those he met there?

When you want to lie please it shouldnt be around one who have good memory and one who dosent forget history easily.

Akpabio is the Man who is changing the story of NDDC for good.

A shocking revelation had it that a Director in the Finance Department owns a Plastic Factory from where school desks and chairs are produced and he can afford to make approvals to the tune of N40bn in a year? Worse is that these plastic school desks and chairs are not durable and can only last a few months.

But the man in question who was affected by the recent transfers of Senior members of Staff is allegedly one of the sponsors of the series of petitions against the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.

He and others involved in milking the commission have a huge financial war chest to prosecute their media attacks against whoever stands in their way, or tries to step on their toes, coupled with the backing of the powerful party cabal who allegedly paid their way to control the Committees in charge of the NDDC and the Niger Delta at the National Assembly.

This has lead recently to the Global Peace Movement international UK to show interest in coming to Nigeria after the pandemic for tour and assessment of NIGER DELTA.

It is worthy to note that Senator Akpabio had always handled any assignment given to him with courage and forthrightness and this was why his stride in Akwa Ibom State was described as uncommon transformation as he completely transformed the landscape of the state with landmarks projects like the Godswill Akpabio Stadium also known as the Nest of Champions and several roads network in the state capital and across the entire state when he was the governor of the state.

I want to conclude that the agenda to render useless, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, MNDA as well as the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC both engines with which the federal government drives its developmental agenda can no longer be overemphasized.

The orchestrated plan by agents within the region working in connivance with other external conspirators, Senator Godswill Akpabio is leaving no stone unturned, his desire to get these development engines grinding again until the Niger Delta region experiences uncommon development commensurate with her resources.

*Dr. Mike Uyi is President General Global Peace International Movement (UK) based in London.

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The Watcher: How Does Containing COVID-19 Express The Chinese System?

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Communist Party of China; and thanks to them, China has successfully contained the pandemic. How to understand the Chinese system when praise and bias both exist? In this episode of the Watcher, Robert Lawrence Kuhn, host of the China media show Closer to China with R.L.Kuhn, chairman of the Kuhn Foundation, finds the parallel secrets of China’s success in eradicating extreme poverty, one of the daunting goals China has owed to reach by the end of this year, and interprets them through the lens of both poverty alleviation and COVID-19 containment.

I’m Robert Lawrence Kuhn and here’s what I’m watching: How China containing the COVID-19 pandemic expresses the Chinese system? And how understanding the Chinese system can undermine bias and reduce vitriol over virus origins and actions, and can increase mutual understanding?

A probative insight into how China’s system works is the parallelism between China’s war in containing the novel coronavirus and China’s war in eliminating extreme poverty. Consider three parallel factors:

First, the operational leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), not just making pronouncements and giving directives, but also implementing programs and working projects through the CPC organizational structure, central and five levels of local government (provincial, municipal, county, township, village).

Second, the leadership of President Xi Jinping, who sets an example for government officials. He makes the remarkable statement: “I have spent more energy on poverty alleviation than on anything else.” What other national leader has said as much?

Third, the CPC’s mobilization capacity, commanding the country’s resources in personnel and materials, a mobilization unprecedented in global healthcare, and in global poverty alleviation.

For example, assigning “sister” relationships between strong provinces and specific cities in need. By no means did all work well. There were obvious obstacles at the start of the outbreak. A strong, top-down system is effective at stopping rumors, but how can it also enable diverse voices to surface vital truths about frontline problems early in the process?

President Xi called for “fighting the outbreak in an open and transparent manner.” He pledged to rid the party of “formalism and bureaucratism.” A potent example is when local officials fear acting because they have not received directives from their superiors.

President Xi stressed drawing lessons from the outbreak to improve the country’s systems for major epidemic control and prevention. The Party says it will improve its systems of information collection and feedback, error correction and decision-making.

The CPC’s readiness to change and improve is a critical part of China’s governance system. Self-correction, the Party says, is its hallmark. China states that it values both individual and collective human rights, but there is a hierarchy of priorities.

In a government document, “The Right to Development,” China explains that the right to subsistence takes priority over the right to development, and collective rights take priority over individual rights.

This is why China’s system is dedicated to ending extreme poverty, which China calls the biggest obstacle to human rights, just as it is containing the contagion. Development is a means of eliminating poverty, thus providing necessary conditions for realizing other human rights, and releasing human potential.

If containing the polemic proves to be more challenging than containing the pandemic, all will lose. The only way to end pandemics is collectively; the only time when anyone in the world will be safe is when everyone in the world will be safe.

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