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Nigerian Army : Melting Point of Patriotism and Professionalism – By Ali Bako

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“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”—George Orwell, famed English novelist and essayist, journalist and critic.

I devoted time to understand why Armed Forces Rememberance Days or Fallen Heroes Days are observed with frenzy globally. And it is done with much prayerful devotion or solemnity by individuals and Governments alike.

And after a painstaking research, I came to the inevitable conclusion that the Military anywhere in the world is the backbone of the survival, peaceful existence and security of any nation. Without the Military serving as counter-force, mightier nations would have been freely annexing “weaker” countries so mindlessly. Some pundits argue that outside the economy, the true might of any country resides with it’s military.

An American, Claudia Pemberton fondly encapsulates the messianc relevance of his country’s soldiers in this epigram; “America without her soldiers would be like God without His angels.”

Historically, wars, conflicts, agressions and violence are innate and inseparable from human communities, whether as large as countries. Wherever people congregate in a defined geographical expression, it’s predictable that unrestrained tampers even within groups, among communities and nations could be violently expressed anytime.

It’s difficult to point at any nation of the world today, which has not experienced a civil strife or external invasion in her history. The task to repel the aggressors is exclusively Military.

Some of these conflicts are spurred to settle age-long grievances, where dialogue consistently fails; pull the strings of self-determination; racial supremacy or for some idiotic reasons such as Boko Haram’s violent campaigns against Western-styled education and leadership in Nigeria.

But in all instances, it is the military that bears the final brunt for the weired actions of incensed men with the daunting task of restoring peace and security, what majority of humanity needs desperately at all times. So, the military is a priced asset anywhere.

Elmer Davis espouses this idea by echoing that “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”

It the reason nations of the world invest billions in fortifying it’s military base from personnel general and specialised trainings to latest modern armaments. A nation’s ownership of a certified, professional and patriotic Army is a signpost of it’s proud existential heritage.

And I was scared in the years between 2011 to 2015, when Nigerian troops battling Boko Haram in the Northeast shirked before insurgents in the frontline; frequently celebrated mutiny in the battlefields, instead of matching them with superior valour; while others even resisted redeployment.

Tales of some Nigerian soldiers’ connivance with the enemies to sabotage the anti-terrorism war resonated trenchantly and assailed the ears to my utmost amazement.

It informed me with lucid clarity that there was a problem with the Nigerian Army or soldiers of my beloved country. Such manifestations portrayed unpretentiously that Nigerian Army was peopled by unprofessional, unpatriotic, disloyal and disgruntled soldiers. No nation could have been proud of such an Army in any guise.

But behold! In July 2015, the good Lord sent a rescuer and reformer to the Nigerian Army. President Muhammadu Buhari appointed a professionally cracked soldier, an experienced warmonger, an astute Military administrator and epitome of excellence, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai as Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS). He was also crowned as the ombudsman of counter-insurgency operations in the country.

I really felt the burden imposed on Gen. Buratai in the service of his fatherland. Unknown to me, the Army General was thrown into a familiar turf and terrain, as he would later exceedingly disprove my doubts about his military persona.

The COAS mounted his leadership seat with two agenda. First, it was clear to him, the inevitability of regaining the pride of the Nigerian Army by reforming and repositioning it into a professional, patriotic, responsive and responsible Army for the performance of it’s assigned constitutional roles.

Secondly, Gen. Buratai knew that after the in-house cleansing of the Army, the mandate of winning Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria was an assignment which could not be procrastinated a day longer. And it was possible with a professional, patriotic and trustworthy soldiers as his trustees on this special national service.

Like the conviction of Rwandan President Paul Kagame who proclaimed that; “We make progress not to be credited for it. We do not make progress for ourselves;” Gen. Buratai launched enduring reforms and innovations in the Nigerian Army as first agenda.

And throughout his tour of Army formations, Gen. Buratai had one central message he transmitted to all Army Commanders at lower rungs and personnel wherever he stepped his foot. He reminded them that he is aware of their subsisting problems such as neglect of welfare, poor equipment base and the urgent need for terrorism combat refresher trainings. It excited soldiers tremendously because some soldiers had already felt the impact of his nascent leadership even before his visit to their formations.

Gen. Buratai assured Army personnel of his leadership as absolutely submissive to their professional yearnings and Military discipline; but however, very intolerant of cretins in the system.

So, he departed every Army Formation with the words of American diplomatic guru and war veteran, Gen. Collin Powell thus;

“The day the soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”

Thereafter, Gen. Buratai and troops moved to the war theatre. And the tide and the gory narratives changed in the counter-insurgency war in the Northeast.

Nigerian troops in the frontline experienced for the first time, their boss, now Gen. Buratai laced his boots and hopped into the jungle, forests, and caves with them to confront Boko Haram terrorists in Northeast.

Troops were further impressed that at critical moments of battle with insurgents, when strategies seem exhausted, they turned and saw their boss, Gen. Buratai barking strategic directives in the heat of battle, with a gun clinched within his fists. It was a great morale booster to troops.

And in each of such encounters and numerous others, Nigerian troops coasted to victory against insurgents. I know this was the foundation of what Nigerians today, truthfully celebrate as decimation and defeat of terrorism.

I wept for my dear country Nigeria, in 2016, the day, I watched the video footage of Gen. Buratai and Nigerian troops, ferociously battle out insurgents in Gwoza, the headquarters of their “Islamic caliphate,” illegally declared and occupied within Nigerian sovereignty for years.

Shortly after the fierce exchange of gunfire, with terrorists and scores sent to their waterloo; while a few others escaped, the same Nigerian Army squad came back to Gwoza, now, the cleared center of torture and extra-judicial executions of Nigerians by terrorists.

So, I said to myself, this feat was even possible with Nigerian Army, yet, we were allowed to go through these years of traumatic experiences of agonies, killings and displacements?

I still vividly recollect, what my COAS staff told natives of Gwoza, who milled around, like bees on honey, when they shortly after spotted Buratai and troops.

“By the Grace of Almighy Allah, we worship and serve in truth; nobody will seize your land, occupy it, take you into slavery on the land your forebears bequeathed to you;” Gen. Buratai addressed jubilant natives, as they hog soldiers in ecstasy.

To this moment, insurgents have neither been able to recapture Gwoza, despite their desperate struggles nor any of the other 17 LGAs Buratai reclaimed from terrorists occupation in the Northeast.

Nigerians experienced this new and refreshing reality because in Gen. Buratai’s reformation preachments, he reminded troops of the power in the words of George S. Patton (Jr) that;

” …It is a proud privilege to be a soldier – a good soldier … (with) discipline, self-respect, pride in his unit and his country, a high sense of duty and obligation to comrades and to his superiors, and a self confidence born of demonstrated ability.”

And it has also not escaped my attention that Nigerian troops have not severed themselves from these lofty teachings of patroitism and endearing leadership of Gen. Buratai. It does not foreclose the chances of the few unpatriotic elements and sabs in the system, who are applying every satanic measure to discolor the counter-insurgency operations and insurrections in Nigeria to reverse the gains on the counter-terrorism campaigns.

But to the majority of our patriotic solders and troops in the frontline, I will leave them with the words of

Adlai Stevenson II, to ponder;

“Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotions, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” And definitely, there is reward for everything, my cherished soldiers.

Thumps up, Gen. Buratai and our gallant soldiers for efficiently serving as the melting point of Nigerian Armed Forces in the campaign against terrorism. Let not your spirit wane, even for a second, until the final blast of the whistle of victory for the total freedom of our country over insurgency!

Bako a retired police officer wrote from Idah, Kogi State.

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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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