First City Monument Bank, FCMB

By Emeka Obasi

Something great is coming thanks to those who organised the selective killing that engulfed Nigeria’s elite military academy recently. Without knowing it, that effrontery in Kaduna, will unlock more than they ever imagined.

Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor and Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Yusuf have what it takes to redeem the image of the  Nigerian Armed Forces. They will not allow this one go like others.

It sounds funny that the NDA was embarrassed like a village school. Lives were lost and those were officers from the different branches of the Armed Forces. On a good day cadets of the institution can handle as many invaders that dared to attack.

Irabor knows the NDA so very well. Yes, he was a cadet. Beyond that, he also worked there as an Adjutant. Yusuf was an Instructor, Registrar before his appointment as Commandant in July. This is one man you do not need to toy with.

Our soldiers  have been pilloried,  from Gwoza to Birnin Kebbi. Wearing the uniform about town further exposes them not only to scorn, their lives are not safe. Time was when soldiers earned respect. Now, we do not know if soldiering is attractive.

I insist that our Nigeria Army as constituted some ten years ago, could deal with insurgency in months. The Army of today is different from the warriors that stabilised Liberia and Sierra Leone. The NA that trained Zimbabwean and Rwandan fighters is gone.

The NA of General Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi, the First African to command United Nations Forces. The NA of Maxwell Khobe who is still worshiped in Sierra Leone. The NA of Suraj Abdurahman and Luka Yusuf who headed Liberian Forces.

We still have in our midst, Lt. General Chukwukadibia Obiakor, the college athlete who fought as a teenager for Biafra, went back to the Nigeria Army, led multinational forces in Liberia and became the first Military officer to be appointed Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations.

Irabor and Yusuf, from the South and North of Nigeria respectively, will soon put those who did the dirty job at the NDA to shame. These are fine officers, equipped with chains of academic degrees and medals of honour. Signals and Armoured officers, they are also men of steel.

It is remarkable that both officers spent time in Ghana, trained in Bangladesh and have been all over the world to acquire knowledge. Check their profile, Norway, Holland, UK, US, you will be proud of these men who between them share five post graduate degrees.

The duo are also battle tested. You cannot talk about war in the North-East without giving them due recognition. Irabor headed operations there and ended up at the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). Yusuf commanded 21 Armoured Brigade, Maiduguri before moving up as GOC 7 Division.

I trust them to get to the root of this national embarrassment. You do not tell me that the NDA has become a poultry farm that thieves could just go and pick birds for slaughter. And there was no gunfight, no form of response by officers.

As a layman, my take is that it was an inside job. I am glad, Irabor is thinking along that line.

All gadgets went dumb while the operation lasted. We may have to hear what the situation is like among staff and cadets, maybe.

I am still trying to figure out why the marauders balanced the equation. Lt. Commander Awolo of the Navy, Flt. Lieutenant Okoronkwo, Air Force and Maj. Stephen Datung, Army, they were targeted. And the dead were Igbo and Berom. Sounds like someone wants to touch IPOB and Middle Belt militants by the tail.

To solve this puzzle, I recommend  the setting up of a panel headed by Gen. Emeka Onwuamaegbu, with Gen. Adeniyi Oyebade as member. Defence minister, Bashir Magashi should know where I am going. Onwuamaegbu and Oyebade, like him, are ex- Commandants of NDA.

Gen. Onwuamaegbu of Regular Course 21 is experienced. His dad, Justice Obumneme Onwuamaegbu was a  teacher and State Attorney General. The general’s uncle, Joe Egemonye was a journalist. The officer was twice Army spokesman. So he knows how to do this job, carrying along the media.

Honestly, something tells me that the dastardly deed could have been  carried out by elements away from bandits. The panel will be able to dig deep. There might have been enemy within the Afaka military community. Talk of ‘selective injustice’.

Nothing is hidden under the sun. We copied NDA from India, not just Sandhurst. That was where the first Commandant,  Brig. Ausm Varma came from. The Indians call theirs National Defence Academy. What coincidence that it is in Khadakwasla, which sounds like Kada, the pet name for Kaduna.

Should this attack turn to another mystery, I will send a letter to NDA India. The Commandant is Lt.Gen. Asit Mistry. I am sure the man remembers that our generals, Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha trained at Dehradun.

And should the panel need historical background, Admiral Allison Madueke, Generals Rabiu Aliyu and Ishola Williams are still very much around. They were commissioned on March 18, 1967 as members of Course One. About two months later, May 19, 1967, Ibrahim Manu Yusuf was born. Today, he is Commandant.

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