August 22, 2023

Distinguished Senator Adeola, tarring military even while in grief is dishonorable

Distinguished Senator Adeola, tarring military even while in grief is dishonorable

By Abiola Olawore

Dear Distinguished Senator Adeola, First, I am writing to you as a concerned citizen and wish to convey my heartfelt condolences to you on the unfortunate loss of your aide, Mr Adeniyi Sanni, which unfortunately, took place on Saturday 5th August, 2023.

We are not unaware that death is one of the most confounding of phenomena, whose occurrence continues to rob us of those close to us, even before their life’s purpose has been attained, hence it remains an existential threat to many who fear and pray against its undue invasion. It certainly comes – numerous times – with an overwhelming sense of grief, and its circumstances can leave one deeply traumatised, as it ravages our mental state. Death definitely, is no one’s friend.

It is therefore understandable what the effects of the death of Mr. Sanni, your dear aide, would have had on you. The spectrum of the emotions evoked would involve shock, disbelief, anger, grief and undeniable trauma. As such, it is natural to sympathise with you and, indeed, the Ogun West Senatorial District that you represent, which the deceased was equally in service of, before the ill-fated incident. No one is immune from life’s unpredictability and happenstances. At the same time, no one loves to be in the headspace of agony and sorrow, which is why I am equally heartbroken in just contemplating how this tragedy would have affected the widow of the late Mr. Sanni: May she find true peace and may God Almighty grant her the fortitude to bear this obviously irreparable loss.

Dear Senator Adeola, all said, it seems the shock of this death occasioned your outburst and finger pointing at the Nigerian military as the culprit behind this sad development, even when circumstances have shown that you do not have accurate information or authenticated Intel to do such. Hence your position is presenting itself as a largely disturbing flip-flop. In one breath, you not only accused the military of homicide but initially indicted Brigadier General Nsikak John Edet as the Commanding Officer under whose jurisdiction responsible falls for the “shooting of your Aide”. This was gross, Distinguished Senator. While this has been shown to be far from truth, as the said Commander had been posted out of that duty post since the 14th of July, while the unfortunate situation occurred on Saturday 5th of August, one would expect some bit of hesitation from you as this was an obvious error of judgement. Shockingly, to clean up this mess and embarrassment, you have gone ahead to place yet another Brigadier-General AM Adetuyi, as the accountable Officer for your Aide’s death. This, still without incontrovertible evidence. When hazy optics lead us in the direction of a gaffe, our volte-face should come with a sober reservation without impulsive proclivities accompanied with smearing darts.

Distinguished Senator, in a published work titled, Rush to Judgement by Ivan Pupulidy, it is written that, “In our rush to judgment, we rarely intend to do harm. Often, we react to incomplete or even scant information, fit it into our own mental model of how things should be and then jump to conclusions that could inflict harm.”

Going by the import of the above, the harm inflicted on our collective sensibilities by your rather subjective error of judgement comes with a colossal damage.

Let’s be realistic, as a close associate of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation and who was also elected into power under the same party as your Leader, a Party that you are also one of its members, it is quite disturbing that you would step out to openly indict the military under same government without any confirmed investigation about the Army’s culpability. This is quite absurd, impetuous, illogical, brash and unbecoming of a person of your status as a Senator of the Federal Republic. Crisis often offers leaders the opportunity to rise above themselves in clear and charitable demonstration of nobility. This is because genuine leadership requires the capacity for tremendous control in the face of severe pressure, whether emotional or psychological.

Untoward developments can become defining moments and tests of character, and the demands of leadership, particularly for those in the rarefied heights of government. This therefore, necessitates that responses are tempered, measured, controlled and cautious in times of distress or upheaval. For a member of a critical branch of government, one would have thought that the notion of collective responsibility requires those in a distinguished institution like the Senate to exercise unusual self-control in a manner that does not throw the apparatus of government to the hawks.

One is deeply concerned that in throwing all caution to the winds in your recent, yet unfounded remarks against the military, you have relentlessly doubled down in throwing the institution under the bus. This is inconsistent with the persona and obligations of desirable leadership. For emphasis, the manner of your articulation, which tended to tar the entire Nigerian Army – even while it could have been motivated by grief and trauma – exposed our military to disrespect, dishonour, infamy and public ridicule. Distinguished Senator, it was Jonno White who said that “The most important thing I learned is that soldiers watch what their leaders do. You can give them classes and lecture them forever, but it is your personal example they will follow.” If we are to flip this crucial observation, I’d dare to say that your inability to match the desire for probity with self- control in the appraisal of an incident as serious as that which happened, which borders on serious criminality and the need to allow law enforcement carry out its mandate before blames are apportioned, brings to the fore a question on your capacity for sound judgement or being reasonable, which could be considered a character flaw.

As a Senator of the Federal Republic, I strongly believe that you have uninhibited access to the leadership of the military. You have the same level of access to all the investigative armsof the national security agencies. You are in fact just a phone call away from the relevant Commanders to either establish the facts or demand explanation for what might be the untoward behaviour of our security officials. However, that you chose the option of media activism and the public trial of your own nation’s military is an unequivocal violation of a sacred principle of leadership and the sobriety that your office demands. By the yet unfounded attack on the military, you have also sought to impugn the reputation of the Chief of Army Staff. Owing to Nigeria’s security challenges of the past, our military have suffered numerous and painful losses; nonetheless they continue to pay the supreme sacrifice in the defence of our territorial integrity, and so that we can keep enjoying freedoms in society. The current military is leaving no stone unturned squaring up against the monsters that stare us in the face, threatening to destroy our ways of life.

Senator Adeola, your outburst that strove to tar an exceptional institution, is so unfair and capable of engendering low morale amongst the rank and file of this institution, which could enable the disengagement of interest and is a recipe for disharmony in society. How about you rather calling for investigations to establish the truth? How about you employing all the resources at your disposal for fact-checking the veracity of your suspicions beyond emotional outbursts? How well did you ascertain that the military actually “robbed and shot” your aide and went ahead to “dump his body” elsewhere? Were you at the scene of the incident or this was a reported story? Was he shot in front of some witnesses you can call up? If investigations point to those manning the checkpoint that fateful night as culpable, you can rest assured that the current Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. T. A. Lagbaja will leave no stone unturned in seeing the truth and consequently meting out the appropriate discipline within the military codes of conduct and processes to any officer found culpable on that fateful night.

But to be the accuser and the judge in a matter capable of creating hazy optics around our institutions is hasty and rash. I will urge you to be a lot more restrained and careful about the way you cast aspersions on people and institutions, which could ultimately turn out false, as I believe it would in this situation. Distinguished Senator, while we sympathise with you again, we urge your good self to embrace the long-established principle of self-control, which is highly incumbent upon public officials, that: “You cannot always control circumstances and situations, but you can learn to control your reactions and attitude.”

May the Almighty grant the soul of the departed, Mr. Sanni, peaceful repose, and comfort you and all those he left behind. And, please accept my profound sympathies and regards.

Ambassador Abiola Olawore, Convener, Concerned Citizens for Renewed HopeFollow me on @concernedctz1