By Dr. Ugoji Egbujo
Communities are grabbing hay while their military sons Shine. And who would blame them?
The Navy plans to site a base in Kano. The current Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) is a native of Kano state. So why are people startled? Tomorrow, somebody could mock that the man did nothing for Kano when he was in power. A Naval base will perch on Kano, sea or no sea. The Navy can think up a purpose for the base later. They can fly in simulators that can train sailors in the desert. Besides, the CNS could just name it Naval Institute for Digital Finance and say it’s the first in Africa. Otherwise, the School of Navy Intelligence for Desert Counterterrorism would do. Kano is entitled to a good chunk of the national cake. Hopefully, before the big man leaves office, he might add a Naval Business School in Kano to commemorate the ancient commercial status of the old Kano Empire.
In 2009, Vice Admiral I. I. Ibrahim was Chief of Naval staff. A native of Kaduna state. He moved a Naval institution to Kachia, Kaduna. They called it Navy School of Armament Technology for Desert Wasrfare. Interesting name. The name solved all the problems and bestowed legitimacy on the location.
Tall and handsome Sadiq Abdullahi became Chief of Airstaff in 2015. The General didn’t forget his roots. He established a Special Ops Command in Bauchi. You know, since time immemorial, Kaduna has taken everything military that came to the north. A son of Bauchi, helping the marginalized state to get something, can’t be breaking any rules. Can he? He didn’t build the base in his father’s house. His courage is praiseworthy-courage lacking in sanctimonious people that bother about all appearances of abuse of office. The man was bold. Without worrying about what rumour mongers and disgruntled elements might say about parochialism and abuse of office, he went further and started marshalling ideas and resources to build an Airforce University in Bauchi. It can’t be nepotistic because Bauchi suffered to produce such a great man. Perhaps we even owe Bauchi much more. Bauchi gave us our first Prime Minister, Tafa Balewa. We failed to protect him. So Sadiq should have built a drone base there too.
Gen Burutai was Chief of Army Staff. He is a native of Bui in Borno. Under his command, the Army conceived an Army University. It was built in Biu. No pretences. The Army University was dragged to Biu. The Biu kingdom has been in existence since the 17 century. So let no one confuse this with Hausa-Fulani hegemony. This is just a son of Biu using his office to bless Biu. Biu is in the theatre of the war. Adams Smith, the great Economist, would have supported citing an education factory near the source of teaching raw materials, in the middle of a research field. Regardless of the optics, the people of Biu forever remember a worthy son who brought home a tangible dividend of democracy. In the old days of Fufu and Pounded yam, when military officers had disdain for unscrupulous politicking, a General would have been squeamish about such a brazen grab. But this is the Indomie age. Morality is now lean and flimsy. Everybody is now a petty schemer, hustler.
Gen Iherjirika was once Chief of Army Staff. Before he retired, he made sure a military barracks was constructed in his village Isikuwato, Abia state. Inside that barracks, an Army School of Linguistics was established. This problem is general. The only limiting factor is courage. If Ihejirika had the requisite courage, he would have taken the bull by the horns, dropped that Army university in Isikwuato. But perhaps he chose to eat a small toad so that people won’t call him toad-eater. Burutai, the snake farmer, came and swallowed a giant toad. And his kinsmen are intoxicated.
While we clap for the brave guys who packed One-Nigeria aside, closed their eyes, and dragged federal military projects to their villages, let’s look at what would have been if their predecessors had their sense of patriotism. I attended the Airforce Military School, Jos. It was established in 1980. Air Vice-Marshal Yisa -Doko was the Chief Of Air Staff up till 1980. Air Vice Marshall A.D Bello took over in 1980. AVM Yisa-Doko was from Niger. AVM A.D Bello wass from Adamawa. But the new school then was rightly cited in the beautiful serene site of old Jos airport. Obasanjo, Babangida, Buhari, Abacha were all Generals and heads of state. They didn’t submit to the primitive urge to lump federal projects in their villages. Perhaps the times have changed.
So Agbor should sit up. They should plan a large reception for their illustrious son, the Chief Of Defence Staff. At the ceremony, they would bestow an extraterrestrial honour on him before handing him their two-point hay-making demand. A University of Military Technology. Then a southern version of Kaduna based Defence Industries Corporation. That would be two sizable toads. But this is the Indomie age; such toad-eating is no longer a taboo. Generals are no longer that scrupulous about the abuse of power when cornering things for their communities. The public now understands it’s turn-by-turn and that even a military flutist deserves the privilege of blowing his nose, especially if he chooses to do that by taking a big kill to his village.
That is the state of affairs. While their military sun shone, sons made hay for their communities.