By KINGSLEY OMONOBI & CALEB AYANSINA
ABUJA—Against the backdrop of mounting security and economic challenges plaguing the country and uncertainty surrounding its unity and cohesiveness, former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), had said there was no chance of any military uprising to scuttle the nation’s democracy.
He said: “I can say without equivocation that our democracy faces no danger from the military. This is because the curriculum of this college has exposed participants to the tenets of democracy from its inception.
‘Therefore, long before Nigeria returned to democratic rule, military officers who passed through this college were prepared for life under civilian leadership and control’.”
The former head of state, who was speaking on ‘The Creation of National Defence College; 20 Years After,” pointed out that an area in which the college had contributed to national development is in the inculcation among military and paramilitary personnel, core values and ethics that support democratic rule.
Babangida said: “By the time international partners were falling over themselves to give lessons in civil-military relations within the democratic context, most senior officers in the armed forces already knew that; because they already learnt this at the college.”
He continued, “Ironically, it seemed that it was the new civilian political masters who most needed to learn from these lessons. It is no wonder that the military has firmly kept to its professional duties because this is right and also out of enlightened self interest”.
“Therefore, the college has helped to raise a critical mass of senior officers who are committed to democracy and that in itself facilitate national development”.
Regarding suggestions to tackle issues of sectarian and religious crises in the land, IBB said, “The work being done here also has the potential to contribute more to national development, if the relevant government agencies make the best use of the results or findings. I am referring to the studies and research reports which this college produces every year. Even the local and foreign study tours generate reports around selected themes and these are shared with government, including state governments, as the case may be”.
“It is my firm conviction that if these reports are processed and used, they will impact positively on national development as the case of the National Emergency Management Agency has shown”.
Another area in which the NDC has positively aided development through its product according to IBB, is the way the armed forces of Nigeria are transforming the system. “For over a decade now, the military has been managed mainly by leaders who are trained here. With the top echelons comprising graduates of NDC, it is easier to achieve consensus, cooperation, communication and coordination to bear on the management of the system”.
“The senior leadership at the defence headquarters and the services had trained together here at the college where they learned about team building to solve problems, to see jointness as the way to go, and to be more analytical at solutions to problems. This has paid off rather well, and the achievements are there for all to see’.
“The present generation of leaders seems to get better and better in performance, whatever leadership position they occupy. They have taken this standard beyond our borders where they have served creditably as Force Commanders and Military adviser to United Nations peacekeeping missions’, he said.
The former military President advised that there was need for military personnel are able to manipulate ICT tools to their advantage in line with national interest saying, “Another thing which the NDC needs to do in the future is to become the leader in generating solutions to Nigeria’s problems in general and defence and security in particular. This should be done through robust research especially by the faculty members.
“Technology is driving advancement in every facet of life and the NDC strives to be current in this area. The college must harness the unlimited possibilities which the Information and communication Technology, ICT, revolution has brought about. “There is no way the NDC can attain the status of one of the best out there without adopting and mastering ICT tools. Therefore, the college should work towards a future where its staff is able to manipulate ICT tools to do their work.
The Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada stated that insecurity all over the world is gradually becoming the norm and there is need for security agents to live up to their responsibilities. “Clearly, there is need for our security to remain a very strong strategic institution for effective coordination of our efforts as stated in our policy in ensuring national development”.
“In particular, the College needs to intensify effort at helping government to articulate a vision of current and future security environment vis-à-vis national development and the priority for national security policy and initiative and the allocation of resources for the best needs of the 21st century.
“As for us in the Ministry of Defence, we will be working closely to our security services to ensure that, the members of our armed forces are well prepared and supported. Our measures are in line with the overall strategies of the President in term of the proactive approach to address the nation security and developmental challenges”, she stressed.
In his welcome address, the Commandant, National Defence College (NDC), Rear Admiral Thomas Lokoson reiterated the commitment of NDC towards developing and delivering strategic leaders that can live up to the security challenges of the 21st century, noting that the college has been in the forefront of maintaining peace not only in Nigeria, but in the world at large.