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[OPINION] The fine art of beheading an army



I have really refrained from giving a public opinion on this matter. As one with a voice, no matter how whittled down, one most be very careful in taking positions especially with positions as this.

I decided to wait until the appointment was made and then looked very carefully at the profile of the appointee before making a comment. The new Chief of Army Staff or COAS as the position is more popularly refrained is, indeed, very well deserving of the role.

A quick look at his profile shows a veteran combatant who has commanded troops in major theatres of conflict and also comes with more than required professional credentials to make him deserving of the job, especially at these times of strife.

But what kept lurking in my mind was the niggling question, can this appointment justify the strong possibility of the loss of senior colleagues that it must generate, especially at this time when the country’s capacity to defend its territorial integrity is over stretched.

What especially is the unique quality that this candidate is bringing to the table that would justify this level of culling in the military hierarchy that is almost unprecedented.

From my layman’s positioning, I really do not see any justifications. Just as we have a new obviously qualified COAS, we also have so many equally qualified, if not more than qualified, officers in the force from other obviously marginalized regions that would have brought a much more needed quality that this soldier cannot bring to the table – balancing.

This in my mind’s eye was a lost opportunity to affect the much needed ‘right sizing’ in these appointments, especially at this time of ethnic agitation, separatist restlessness and cry against the openly nepotistic nature of federal appointments in this administration.

The Federal Character principle as enshrined in our constitution, although I have never been one to support its very obvious tendency of muting merit, really do believe that since it is enshrined in our statutes, it must be observed.

However, we seem to have an administration that can’t seem to remember which cupboard in its many disused warehouses the document was filed into.

The Federal Character Principle, in my minds eye today remains a much more crucial tool for tackling the separatist and ethnic fueled tensions that have led to violence and the highest level of insecurity in peace time Nigeria.

The believe that some regions are having more than a fair share in the ‘partnership’ is expanding fault lines and leading to very painful and avoidable chaos in the country. The apparent arrogance of this appointment and its seeming ramifications continue to confound observers.

This particular appointment rings like calling the bluff of not only the violent agitators but also the reasonable pacifists like myself who still believe that we have not yet turned the corner and that there could still be hope for a renaissance.

Read also: [OPINION] Nigeria is a failed state

Although from my findings, the Commander in Chief will have to look at other factors beyond professional competence in choosing his COAS, he still retains the discretion to choose along other informal and personified channels.

He would look at loyalty very crucially before making his choice and this ambiguity if not carefully handled would find ourselves in a position where the most obvious golden opportunity to send the right signals would be missed like what seems to have just happened.

As a direct fall out of the above, I have found out that although we have so many military officers within the class range of this appointment, we still went down the ladder to pick this one candidate that is representative of the tendency that seems to bedevil this nation since the inception of this particular ‘regime’ and which has continued to lead to the shattering of the little ’unity’ we seem to have achieved during the Obasanjo administration.

What can we do but to continue to support these decisions in the interest of peace and national progress no matter how painfully shallow they may seem. We can only pray that at the elections Nigerians will finally awaken to the powers that our votes give us instead of frittering away the votes on the alter of shallow materialism and ethnic positioning and then getting flogged for four years.

When will we wake up to the realities of our power as a people? Till then, things like this will continue to be our lot?

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