THE 21st century experienced its first global melt down in the middle of 2007 when the world stock markets fell, large financial institutions collapsed and governments in even the wealthiest nations came up with rescue packages to bail out their financial systems. Within a short while, the world had serious financial crisis on its hand.
The military was one of the few institutions that withstood the onslaught and continued its operations in most countries of theworld.
Defence and economy are deeply intertwined and the tendency to apply an economically driven approach towards defence will always occur in most climes. Defence is not only a question of means, it is also a question of planning, training and organising, it is a question of strategy.
That strategy has been replicated in the Nigerian army which has fortified the defence of the country and now emerging as a force that will withstand another economy or global meltdown that is already in the offing.
With a period of one year, the man at the helms of affairs of the Nigerian Army has brought about the professionalism that was fading away. Frugality, simplicity and conservation is what is required by any administrator in this era when the national reserves are dwindling.
The Chief of Army Staff(COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has hit the ground running right from the onset and made the management more pronounced by carrying out forensic audit of its units, formations and all operations across the country in July this year, to ensure judicious use of funds for North East operations.
The COAS’s management strategy which is part of efforts to ensure prudent utilisation of resources allocated to the army and ensure that they justify what was being used to prosecute their operations goes a long way in solving the hydra-headed issues that is in Nigeria. The prudence and forensic audit goes a long way in solving the Nigerian battle with the onerous task of trying to bridge the wide infrastructural chasm that exists in every sector of the nation.
The North-Eastern part ofthe country which has been the hotbed of the terrorist is being liberated on daily basis, thereby giving way for the economic activities there to pick up since the past one year, due to the professionalism of the manager of the army-Burutai.
Since he assumed office, over 20,000 people who were kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria’s northeast have been rescued from captivity. This goes along way in raising the morale of the civil populace and the residents of the most affected areas of terrorists attack.
The morale in question is also directed to the personnel of the Nigerian army, who are ready to work well under the right leadership- morale to work well , inspite of the dwindling reserves.
The Chief of Army Staff brought out the best with the little resources at his disposal to ensure the benefit of soldiers in
the country and also to justify what was being used to prosecute their operations. By ensuring the inclusion of barracks renovation in the 2016 federal budget, which has resulted in the massive renovation of residential and office accommodation, the building of new barracks for soldiers across the country.
The Maxwell Khobe Cantonment Jos, Nigerian Army School of Artillery in Kachia Kaduna State, Office of the Military Secretary,the ongoing army barracks building in Otukpo, Benue state and others, Burutai has demonstrated the management trait required from a leader. A well-ordered modern state is one that holds a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, and that allows domestic markets tooperate. Internationally, where order is more tenuous, residual concerns about the coercive use of force, even if a low probability, can have important effects –including a stabilising effect.
Burutai has created this stabilising effect within a period of one year in office by constantly appealing to the public to always avail the military or any nearby security agency of any useful information that would lead to the continued success inthe counter-insurgency war. The meetings with security heads including the police, Department of State Services and representatives of companies also give the stabilising effect to the people required from a COAS. His recent proposal to the militants in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria to speak with one voice, if they expect to be taken seriously is a right step in unifying the civil populace for optimum result.
The proliferation of groups, who claim to be Niger Delta militants, do not come across as a genuine move for peace, as Burutai affirmed this month, is step in the right direction and the “Exercise Crocodile Smile” not to be mistaken for an invasion in the Niger Delta region sheds more insight about the army’s operations. Burutai’s mandate to military personnel to respect the rights of law abiding citizens in their areas of operation whom he said were critical to the success of the exercise also shows a leader that respects human rights of individuals.
This sensitisation of the public from him goes a long way in allowing the public to know what the army is doing in the Niger Delta. The army extends its cordiality in the region by offering free medical services to the people.
The team of Operation Crocodile Smile has demonstrated it in communities in Delta ,Rivers and Bayelsa states and other places. To strengthen this friendship, soldiers have gone out of the normal line of duty to tame kidnappings and abductions by engaging in rescue operations. They have rescued several innocent persons from kidnappers and petty criminals and the victims have been reunited with their families.
Burutai’s declaration as an incentive to soldiers currently in the war front with Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East zone of Nigeria or elsewhere in the country would have personal houses upon retirement would definitely have a multiplier effect on every facet of the army.
By directing the army Post-Housing Development Directorate to work out modalities for this housing scheme and the Nigerian Army headquarters unrelenting efforts to stand by soldiers wishing to secure mortgage loans for personal housing projects, the COAS has turned things around for the benefits of all.
Indeed, military power provides a degree of security that is to order as oxygen is to breathing, whichthe right leadership at the helms of affair.
In the twenty-first century, where military power does not have the same utility for states that it had in the twentieth century, but remains the pivot for stability, it will remain a crucial component of power in world politics. The recurring financial meltdown that has also hit Nigeria will be managed well if the right COAS is in place.
Uzezi Onovre, Chartered Accountant, Asaba Delta State