By Kingsley OMONOBI
The clichÃ© that when there is a will, there is a way speaks volume ofÂ the Chief of Defence Staff, Nigerian Armed Forces, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike.Â For any task given, the challenge is to deliver on performance.
Air Vice Marshall Jon Ode, the Chief of Defence Communications at Defence headquarters, Abuja , commenced the brief ceremony that heralded the take_off of the latest and State of the art Military Operations Room for Joint Operations for the Nigerian military.
To those who may not know, the significance of the new operations room for the Nigerian military is so awesome that right there in Abuja, the Chief of Defence Staff, or any of the Service Chiefs, can summon any Commander on the field or in operational areas and speak to them directly through video or voice modes with both the senior officer and the subordinate interacting face to face like we have seen the US and the British do in the ongoing Iraq and Afghanistan crises.
Consequently, the multinational Task forces in Barga, near Chad, Operations Flush Out 1, Flush Out 2 and Flush Out 3, for instance, the Joint Task Force for the Niger Delta, and the various Peacekeeping Missions in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Dafur, where Nigeria has a combined troop strength of about 11, 000 officers and men, can be reached directly and within seconds if there are important and urgent policy directives to be passed across.
When the upgrade and take off of the new operations room is situated against the backdrop that several years after the Nigerian military participated in, and excelled in about 50 Peace keeping and Peace enforcement operations, it has always lagged behind in the application of modern technology to tough crises problems, the belief is that crises situations which would be handled using the more sophisticated equipment, will cost lass and be of massive benefit to the nation.
Incidentally, from the very first day Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike stepped into office as the Chief of Defence staff, the Nigerian armed forces have never been the same.
Popularly referred to as the â€˜Old Peoples Homeâ€™ of the military in the past, the Defence headquarters was dreaded and scorned at by officers in particular who viewed any sort of posting there as the road to destruction of an officer or the easiest way of sending him out on retirement.
But like the consolidation that swept through the Nigerian Banking industry and the financial restructuring which CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido is injecting into the sector, Dike came in like a whirlwind, giving birth to and breathing life into the Defence headquarters.
He provided houses to both senior officers including Generals and Non Commissioned officers alike complete with furnished apartments, leisure areas for their families standby generators in case of power problems. Senior officers as well as junior officers are presently enjoying welfare packages that have never been experienced in the history of the existence of the DHQ.
Additionally, a top officer in the force, the CDS apart from rebuilding an abandoned Restaurant and eatery for officers, soldiers and civilians staff of the Defence headquarters which brought smiles to their faces, ensured that scores of brand new Coaster buses that ferries personnel to and from their offices on a daily basis have been provided. All Directors have their official cars, not to talk of Principal Staff officers.
In the military, the importance of operations with regard to carrying out training exercise to prepare and update officers and men in preparation for crises situations, give soldiers and their commanders, the edge and needed boost to believe in their readiness and capability when they are commanded to proceed on missions cannot be over_emphasized.
The Defence headquarters under Dike has brought back these tenets through which military professionalism is achieved in the real sense. The recent â€˜Exercise Ologun Metaâ€™ in Ondo state, the Joint Exercise involving West African forces in Burkina Faso with Nigeria as the driving force, whereby over 30 operational vehicles of various types and communication gadgets were provided by Nigeria is still the subject of praise by ECOWAS.
News of the recent directive to a committee he set up to look into and come out with remedies to the problem of improper kitting of Nigerian soldiers serving in peacekeeping missions abroad to portray Nigeria in proper light since they were like our ambassadors has recently been received with glee and the expectation conclusion troops is that it has come to pass because with Dike, â€˜action speaks louder than wordsâ€™.
At the juncture, the most important leadership trait that the CDS has exhibited which became a cause of worry to government in the past was his ability to keep the hierarchy of the military as one unit or as a family. The cordiality existing between him, the Chief of Army staff, Lt. General Bello Bambazau, CNS, Vice Admiral Iko Ibrahim and the CAS,
Air Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin, has never been witnessed in the history of the armed forces.
Thus the rancour, mistrust and backbiting that existed during the tenure of some of his predecessors during which time some service chiefs could poison one another had they gotten the opportunity is virtually non_existence and this went a long way in helping the military high command work successfully as a single front in tackling the crises of the oil wars in the Niger Delta and the Boko Haram Crises in the North recently.
As if these actions of the CDS which has brought about a very conducive atmosphere for the armed forces are not enough, Saturday Vanguard has it on good authority that the bigger blockbuster package for the armed forces which will leave a lasting legacy in the military in the works courtesy of the CDS.
The terms and conditions of the military has always been a cause of worry and anxiety for officers and soldiers alike with many officers booted out yearly right from the begining of their career, from Captains to Colonels in the Army and equivalent in the Navy and Airforce, while those of Generals are even worse as a result of many having leave voluntarily due to age-rank compatibility.