By Kingsley Omonobi
ABUJAâ€”Â FOLLOWING pressure from some segments of the Nigerian public on the armed forces to abandon their avowed commitment to remain subservient to democratic rule and intervene in governance, as a result of theÂ continued absence of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua from the country, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike has vowed that â€œthe Nigerian Armed Forces will never depart from its chosen path of honourâ€ saying â€œinstead, we must defend democracy at all cost.â€
Dike made the vow just as the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Abdurahman Dambazau expressed dismay over â€œattempts by some people to drag the army which has remained neutral but absolutely committed to the survival of our nascent democracy, into the political affairs of this country.â€
Speaking at the commissioning of the Nigeria Army Forward Operating Base along Bill Clinton Drive, Abuja, the CDS said, â€œLet me use this opportunity to react to recent comments and innuendos about the armed forces by certain segments of our society pertaining to developments in our political scene. â€œI am compelled to remind everyone of the constitutional role of the armed forces which is primarily anchored on the protection of Nigeriaâ€™s territorial integrity.
Meddling in political issues does not complement our constitutional role in any way, shape or form.
Armed forcesÂ remain focused
“I, therefore, warn all members of the armed forces to steer clear of politics. Ours is a military that is mindful of its past, conscious of its present, and hopeful for the future. The Nigerian Armed Forces will, therefore, not depart from its chosen part of honour. Consequently, I urge all of you (military) to remain focused and committed to the service of our fatherland.
â€œWe must always remind ourselves that politics is better played by politicians. Also, I must not fail to stress that regardless of the imperfections of our political experiments, democracy remains the only acceptable form of governance. And as members of the Nigerian Armed Forces, we must defend it at all cost.â€
Earlier, Lt. General Dambazau had said: â€œThe Nigerian Army has, in recent times, noted with dismay, some of the unnecessary, unwarranted and inflammatory comments, statements and utterances in some quarters capable of creating a sense of insecurity and dragging us back to the dark days of our nationâ€™s history.
â€œWe are equally aware of the attempt by some people to drag the army which has remained neutral but absolutely committed to the survival of our nascent democracy into the political affairs of this country.
We also noted that some persons who apparently do not value peace are hell-bent on creating disaffection between the military and the public, particularly with reference to the Jos crisis. Of course, we can safely assume that such persons find it impossible to commit other atrocities whenever we deploy to keep the peace, hence their frustration.
â€œLest we forget, the military was swift and decisive in containing Boko Haram debacle and will, therefore, deal decisively with any form of mayhem whenever the need arises. However, it is imperative that trouble makers in our midst, who are negligible few, are not allowed to promote anarchy and their personal interest at the expense of our collective national interest and public order.
â€œThis is most important especially because our experiences in peacekeeping operation have shown that at the end of it all, it is the poor, the elderly, women and children that are the victims of such crises. The military has made a lot of sacrifices for peace and stability in our dear nation, and will continue to maintain its neutral status, despite efforts to discourage that through campaigns of calumny recently experienced.
â€œWe have seen the extent to which ethnic and religious crises ravaged many countries the world over, and we participated in post conflict stabilization in many of such countries. We do not pray that we reverse the position in which other countries are sent to Nigeria for peace support operations.
â€œWe want to state categorically that, in the Nigerian Army, our religion is Espirit de Corps while our tribe is the Military Profession and our training has placed us above primordial sentiments. The barracks is not political battlefield and our soldiers are not tools to be used for creating disunity.
â€œThe Nigerian army affirms its commitment to its constitutional responsibilities and will continue to contribute meaningfully to the entrenchment of democracy in Nigeria. We have said repeatedly that, the subsisting democratic environment in the country, today, gives us a lot of advantages in the pursuance of professionalism.â€
â€œThe Nigerian Army, therefore, urges all stakeholders in our national affairs to eschew violence and promote peace and tranquility in Nigeria. This advice is borne out of our experiences of the consequences visited on countries that have gone through crisis lately.â€