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Dambazau: What the army thinks

By  Gbenga Adefaye

The Nigerian Army is facing a stress test. And who else but the Chief  of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Bello Dambazau is in the eye of the storm.

First was the controversy over  troops deployment when President Umaru Yar’Adua returned from the Saudi hospital after about three months of absence from duty without notifying the National Assembly as required by the 1999 Constitution.

The Brigade of Guards had ‘nocturnally’ deployed its men to safeguard the President’s return in a manner that drew the ire of the populace. Acting President Goodluck Jonathan was alleged not to be in the know of the deployment of troops and many thought that was treasonable.

Many simply bayed for blood. They asked that Jonathan sacked the Army leadership. The second one has been the role of the army over the mindless mass murder by criminal ethinicists and religious bigots on the plateau of Jos. Governor Jonah Jang, himself a former military officer had specifically accused the General Officer Commanding the 3rd Army Division in Jos , Major General Saleh Maina of complicity in security breach that led to the bloodbath. Of course, the army has denied Jang’s accusation while the authority probes claims and counter claims.

*Lt. Gen Bello Dambazau

Where is the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in all of this?
Lt. General Dambazau in a chance meeting in his official residence at the Niger Barracks behind Aso Rock, would rather not speak on political matters.  Perhaps, if the discussion had been how he is professionalizing the army, how the army under him is doing massive civil construction works through direct labour and how the army has even registered a business name so as to be able  to compete in civil society, a full interview might be welcome.

But  we are in uncertain times. Politicians are up to their games. Therefore,  his voice must remain mute and  apolitical. He must be heard only on the parade grounds talking to his troops to remain professional; to remain apolitical; to remain subordinated to the civil constitutional authority at all times.

In any case, he is of the clear view that those calling for his head over the matter of Guards Brigade troops deployment only speak in ignorance.

First, he denied ever speaking to anyone about whom he owes his loyalty – because there is a clear constitutional position on that. He  challenged whoever has heard him express view on that  subject to produce evidence of such position issued by him, where and when and to whom.

Two, he does not direct the Commander of the Brigade of Guards on matters of troops deployment. That was not his forte. Rather, he took solace in the fact that Acting President Goodluck Jonathan knows the truth of his loyalty to constituted authority. Acting President Jonathan knows the fact of the Standard Operation Procedure of the Guards Brigade whose primary assignment is to safeguard the Presidency at all times, even if it means resisting unauthorized incursion by the Army.

He asserted: The Guards Brigade is the only independent brigade in the Army. The Commander reports directly to the President. The Guards Brigade received only administrative support from the Army Headquarters . The Guards Brigade Commander stands by the President anywhere he is in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. He sees  to the security of the Presidency  (and that includes the President and Vice President and families); seeing off the President to the plane anytime he travels out of Abuja and receives him back, although he never travels with him. Members of the Guards Brigade do not serve outside the Federal Capital Territory.

They are on full deployment for national security at the airport 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round with some members sometimes being on call duty away from their families for up to a month.

That is the reason why apart from their salaries, all other allowances are paid directly by the Presidency. And in any case, the Aide de camp to the President has always being a member of the Guards Brigade.

This explains the command and control of the Guards Brigade. This is no new invention. Operationally, the Commander of the Brigade of Guards does not report to the Army authorities. He reports to the President. Dambazau who claimed not to have had any intimacy with President Yar’Adua  before his appointment comes from a family with strong military pedigree. His father was a soldier in the colonial army.

The photograph of the elder Dambazau, in that starched tunics proudly adores the COAS living room. He radiated pride talking about his old man. He also has brothers who according to sources had been  senior officers in the military.

A highly educated officer with a PhD in criminology, Lt.Gen Dambazau  has an interesting story to tell:  as young  Lieutenant and ADC to an Army Chief of Staff,  he was labeled a crank when he had opted to go to the university for higher education. Many senior officers thought he had missed his calling, because he could have lobbied for political office.  But he knew what he wanted in the army. He believed that the military in politics compromised order and everybody was a loser. For one who had spent a substantial part of his career enforcing discipline in the Army as a military police officer, he believes that politicians should just do their bit and let the Army be.

For one whose pastime is teaching or writing books (and he has many books to his credit), when he is not on the golf course, it is no wonder his copious response to the charge of partisanship against the army, especially over the Jos crisis as reported by the Nigerian Tribune: “the Nigeria Army is well trained I must tell you that and the Nigeria Army personnel are very  neutral in crisis situations.

They love this country and they love their job. “In the army as I mentioned to you earlier, we have only one religion and that religion is called esprit de corps and we have only one tribe which is the Nigerian Army, and let me educate you; In 3 division of the Nigerian army, the GOC Major-General Maina is a Muslim, the Chief of Staff, (a Brigadier-General) is a  Yoruba man and a Christian and that Chief of Staff is responsible for organising and conducting operations.

“The Garrison Commander is a Yoruba man and a Christian and that Garrison Commander is in charge of troops; he deploys them, so anybody attempting to bring in religion because Saleh Maina is a Moslem is just trying to play politics.

Don’t forget that some of them are preparing for 2011 elections and in this country many politicians use religion and ethnicity to whip up sentiment in order to gain support. They do not talk of issues, issues that affect common man. They don’t like talking about such”. That much from a soldier intellectual –

BELLO DAMBAZAU CFR GSS DSS psc ndc fwc(+) PhD: A profile
1.    Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau an indigene of Takai  Local Government Area of Kano State was born on 14 March 1954 at Zaria, Kaduna State.  After his primary school education, he gained admission into the prestigious Barewa College Zaria from 1970-1974. On graduation in June 1974, admitted into the Nigerian Defence Academy Kaduna as a member of the 17 Regular Combatant Course. On successful completion of his Officer Cadet training, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the Infantry Corps of the Nigerian Army in June 1977.

2.    During the course of his military career,  he has held numerous command, instructional and staff appointments. On command, he was a Platoon Commander at both 146 Infantry Battalion and later 4 Provost Battalion also as a Platoon Commander. He was Group Commander 3 Provost Group from 1990 – 1991 and later 1 Provost Group 1992 – 1993. Until his appointment as the Chief of Army Staff, last week, he was the General Officer Commanding 2 Division Nigerian Army.

3.    As part of his numerous contribution on training, General Dambazau served as the Registrar/Instructor, Nigerian Defence Academy (1993-1999) and later Chief Instructor, at the Support weapon Wing of the Infantry Centre and School from 1999 – 2001 and later a Directing Staff the then National War College from 2004 – 2006. Subsequently, he became the Director, Higher Military Organization and Operations at the same Institution in 2006. This earned him the highly revered appellation of the Fellow of the War College Dagger (fwc [+]).

4.    Lieutenant General AB Dambazau  as also held several staff appointments before his appointment as the 26th Chief of Army Staff. He was a Staff Officer at the  Headquarters of the Nigerian Army Corps of Military in 1979 before he became an Aide-de-Camp to the then Chief of Army Staff. He was also a Special Investigator at the Special investigation Bureau of the NACMP from 1984 – 1985. Subsequently, he was appointed Military Assistant to the Director Army Training and Operations at the Army Headquarters. The Chief of Army Staff was again a Staff Officer at the Headquarters of NACMP for one year before his appointment as Military Assistant to the Principal Joint Staff Officer, Joint Headquarters.

5. He was the Colonel Logistics at the Infantry Centre and School from 2001-2002. Major General Dambazau served as the Principal General Staff officer to the Honourable Minister of Defence (PGSO-HMOD) in 2006. In January 2007, he was appointed the Chief of Army Standards and Evaluation (CASE).

6.   Since his commission as an officer, General Dambazau, in addition to the Young Officers and Surveillance Platoon Commanders Courses he attended at the then Nigerian Army School of Infantry (NASI) in 1978, he has over the years, attended both civil and military courses within and outside Nigeria that earned him several academic qualifications and awards which includes Certificates, Diploma, Bachelors’ Degree, two Masters’ Degree and a Doctorate Degree.

He was at the United States Military Police School, Fort MacLelan where he earned a Diploma in Military Police Basic Training and later went to Kent State University, Ohio, from 1980-1984, for a Bachelors’ Degree in Criminal Justice and Masters Degree in International Relations. He also attended the University of Keele, United Kingdom between 1986 and 1989 where he was awarded a Doctorate Degree in Criminology.

Earlier, he attended the then Command and Staff College for his Junior Staff course in 1985where he graduated with impressive result. Having excelled at the Senior Staff Course Qualifying Examination (SSCQE), he was nominated to attend the prestigious Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College for the Senior Division Course from 1991-1992 and as usual, he graduated with excellent results. The Chief of Army Staff also returned to the Infantry Centre and School Jaji for the Commanding Officers’ Course before proceeding to India’s National Defence College, New Delhi in 2003 for his Higher Strategic Military Course.

6. General Dambazau has an excellent flair for writing cutting across diverse aspects of human endeavours. In addition to his Doctorate thesis, he authored five books as follows:a. Military Law Terminologies, Spectrum Books Limited, 1990.b. Law and Criminality in Nigeria, University Press, 1994.c. Issues in Crime Prevention and Control in Nigeria, Baraka Press, 1996.d. Criminology and Criminal Justice, Nigerian Defence Academy Press, 1999. e. Criminology and Criminal Justice, Second Edition, Spectrum Books, 2007.

7. He has also written over eleven published papers on the United Nations, the Media, Human and Drug trafficking, as well as on Democracy and the Rule of Law among other topics.

A highly versatile senior officer, he is a member of five national and international professional bodies, these include, Director/Member, International Police Executive symposium, American Society of Criminology, Nigerian Institute of Management Consultants, International Society for Criminology and the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs.


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