By Evelyn Usman & Albert Akpor
The Nigerian Army (NA), Monday stated in Lagos, that it had no intention of meddling with politics or taking over power, pledging commitment to its constitutional responsibilities.
To this end, it had warned officers and men to dissociate themselves from politics and not to allow themselves to be influenced by such thoughts.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. A. Danbazau, said this in his address at the Chief of Army Staff Conference at the Command Mess 11, Apapa.
According to Danbazau: â€œthe Army was not unaware of recent remarks in the press literally calling for what they termed ‘Military solution’ in the political affairs of the country.
“While taking cognisance of the current democratic dispensation that respects the freedom of speech, the Nigerian Army dissociates itself from such remarks as we are collectively resolute in operating within the confines of our constitutional roles.
“Whatever political disputes that may exist in our society, like they exist in all human societies, they are best settled in all human societies, they are best settled through constitutional means. Please, the military should be left out of this,â€ he warned.
The annual conference with the theme â€˜Strengthening the Nigerian Army Operational Capabilities: An Imperative for attaining National Security Objectives of the Government 7-point agendaâ€™Â he explained, was aimed at equipping the Nigeria Army with a view to meeting up with the present security challenges.
The vigorous pursuit of positive altitudinal change and excellent civil-military relations, he pointed out,Â remained a key factor to attaining the Nigerian Army objectives under the current political dispensation.
In the last one year, he revealed that the Nigerian Army had recorded significant improvement in terms of troops discipline and interactions with the larger society. â€œ There has been a tremendous improvement in our relationship with the general public , while we have established a formidable liaison with other sister agencies at all levels of command to improve cordiality and synergy in furtherance of our respective mandateâ€.
In a bold move to reconcile its past with the reality of the presence, with a view to integrating the military justice system , he stated that the NA in conjunction with the National Judicial Institute hosted the NA Law seminar, where senior members of the bar and Bench participated actively.
Officers and soldiers he added, had been undergoing training and exercise to keep with NA drive towards professionalism .â€ During the training year, eight Battalions conducted field training exercise at the Nigerian Army Training Center in Kontagora, in addition to the compulsory three days similar exercises in al battalion locationsâ€
Steps he said had been taken to improve and upgrade training facilities in the NA, as it had engaged in numerous operations both internally and externally, which he added were carried out in aid to civil authority and to meet Nigeriaâ€™s international obligations in line with its constitutional roles.
Despite its achievement, he revealed that the NA had been confronted with some challenges particularly in the area of its current disproportionate size, vis-avis its commitment within and outside the country.
Other areas of challenge, according top him, were those of logistics and accommodation.
But he expressed gratitude to president Umaru Yarâ€™dua and the National assembly for their support , which he attributed to NA recorded success, pledging the Nigerian Army support to work hard until it reaches the â€œ mountain top of Military professionalismâ€ .
Corroborating General Dambazauâ€™s claims, the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark who was special guest at the occasion, expressed optimism that theÂ military would not make any incursion into civilian administration.
He said, â€œwhat we are seeing in the military today, is the resurgence of military values of professionalism, integrity, truth and service.Â These are ideals that are deeply embedded in the seven point agenda.Â It is said that the military is a reflection of the society from which she is drawn.
â€œI therefore, wish to assure Nigerians that what the National Assembly expects from the Army or any of the services, is productivity, loyalty and belief in oneness and greatness of a future assured nation.
Senator Mark also stated that the relationship between the executive and legislature was robust and guided by a common purpose which is in the national interest of the country, describing the occasional disagreements between the two arms of government as a normal and acceptable democratic practice, usually persuaded by the will and wishes of the people.
As law makers, he said, â€œwe have the responsibilityÂ to monitor steps taken towards actualizing the national vision . We under take this through our oversight functions over Ministries , Departments and Agencies.
â€œIn this regard, let me emphasize that the relationship between the Executive and the legislature is robust, forthright, respectful, guided by a common purpose which is in the national interest of this countryâ€
He described President Umaru Yarâ€™duaâ€™s seven point agenda as a full throttled call for national re-awakening, re-orientation and exhortation towards achieving the countryâ€™s ambition of being the giant of Africa among the twenty most developed global economies by the year 2020. But he argued however that if faithfully implemented it would set Nigeria on the path to the desired prosperity and progress.
â€œTo achieve this goal, Mr President has also reinstated his commitment to the rule of law. What this signify is that the culture of impunity and doing things outside the law is unacceptableâ€.
Noting again that the responsibility of the Senate was to provide the enabling legislative framework towards reasling the goal and the letter of the seven point agenda, he revealed that the senate had embarked on the review of a number of Acts that may impede the nationâ€™s political development as a potentially great nation.
One of such review according to him,was that of the 1999 constitution. â€œConcurrent with the review of the constitution, the senate is also in intensive consultation on the Electoral Reform measures that will further improve and enhance the credibility of our elections. Let me emphasize here that I do not believe that our electoral system is the worst thing that happened to Nigeriaâ€, he stated,Â even though he accepted that there was need for improvement.