When I learnt few days ago that In recognition of his successes towards ending terrorism in Nigeria and the Lake Chad basin, the Coalition for Governance and Leadership in Nigeria will present the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Abayomi Olonisakin, with the 2018 African Man of the Year award, ‘at last” I thought to myself. The great strategist and a fine military chief deserves even more, perhaps a medal for his salient role in bringing the dreaded Boko Haram terrorist group to their knees.
Before the advent of Gabriel Olonishakin as the Chief of Defence Staff CDS in 2015, Nigerians were all witnesses to the abysmal humanitarian crisis occasioned by the activities of Boko haram and other rebel groups in the country due largely to lack of proper coordination of the counterinsurgency war.
General Olonishakin came in and changed the tide. He demonstrated that the Nigerian armed forces has all it takes to tackle terrorism and other security challenges bedevilling the country by designing a well-coordinated strategy that has since reinvigorated and sustained the winning spirit and determination of the Nigerian military.
“After carefully observing the commitment of General Olonisakin towards fighting insurgency and suppressing emerging terrorists like Militia herdsmen, the Indigenous Persons of Biafra, IPOB, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, cattle rustlers and other bandits across the country, it is necessary to applaud his efforts so that he can be motivated to do more for the country” says Comrade Okpokwu Ogenyi, the Coordinator of the Coalition bequeathing the honour on the CDS in a bid to spur him to do more in the fight against Insurgency in the country.
In December of 2015, the CDS did something that would later serve as a major success factor in the prosecution of the war against terror. As part of his resolve to restructure the Defence Headquarters, he established the office of Campaign Planning, Coordinating Centre for Naval Component, Theatre Commander and Deputy in Operation LAFIYA DOLE as well as Theatre Media Office to coordinate the operational activities of the Armed Forces.
CDS carried out the restructuring in order to inject new tactics, operations and robust initiatives to attain efficiency and professionalism in the major operations nationwide where rule of law and human rights are strictly adhered to
After his appointment by president Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, he took over the coordination of about 14 security operations across Nigeria with more focus on the Northeastern region. As the chief strategist, Olonishakin focused on enhancing efficiency and tactics to enable troops perform better during operations and meet fluctuating threats across the country.
The CDS has always affirmed his commitment to indivisible Nigeria, and has evolved countless strategies that has been helping the military to continue to fight for the unity of our dear country. This is evident in his hardline stance in the fight against terrorism, illegal oil bunkering, cattle rustling and other forms of illegalities and crimes that are plaguing our nation.
Olanishakin has ensured that national approach to combating terrorism is strategic, comprehending both preventive and response driven measures. His approach as the head of the Nigerian armed forces sees to it that strategies envisage a crisis management structure that facilitates interagency cooperation and minimizes competition and disputation. He has encouraged interagency coordination, and created a number of avenues for putting the principles into practice.
The CDS came with a clear vision which is “to ensure a well motivated, trained and equipped Armed Forces that is responsive to national security commitments” and he has since then, made certain that the pursuance and drive of all operational responsibilities of the Defence Headquarters is guided by the vision.
Since his emergence as overall boss of the military, Boko Haram and allied rebel groups have had it rough. General Olonishakin has been leading efforts to strategise and restrategise operations of the Nigerian armed forces in a bid to meet up with president Buhari’s directive to end the Boko Haram menace. Inspite of the recent resurgence of Boko Haram attack, the Nigerian Armed Forces has continued to work towards eliminating insurgents and acts of insurgency being perpetrated by members of Boko Haram with a concerted efforts to ensure that the terrorists are not able to regroup and returning to making life difficult for civilians.
Despite this high level of successes that the Army has achieved so far under the CDS, troops have not relented on being on the trail of the terrorists who now operate majorly from outside the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
As an institution, under the CDS, the Nigerian Armed Forces can pride itself as having professional men and women comparable to the best anywhere in the world. To ensure fineness and excellent operational capabilities, the CDS guarantees that military officers are trained and retrain in line with changing trends in military operations including intelligence gathering to keep them fit for operations at all times.
Olonishakin is at the centre of the planning and coordination of strategies with other security chiefs that helped in bringing down Boko Haram and other rebel groups across the country. Refered to as the “strategist” in some quarters, the man has successfully overseen the realization of president Buhari’s target to end insurgency. Agreed, there are still pockets of attacks by insurgents, however, no Nigerian territory is been held or controlled by insurgents.
The Nigerian armed forces are fighting on multiple front to keep the country safe. The approach is no longer of just bullet and bomb showers, there is proper coordination and synergy between all security agencies and this is thanks to the leadership of the current CDS. If you ask me I’d say this CDS General Olonishakin is the best we have seen in years.
By James Albert
Albert wrote this article from NASME, Makurdi.