Written by By Emmanuel Iriogbe:
As the military, especially the army took knocks over its handling of crises in the country recently, both the minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Godwin Abbe (rtd), and Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike, have re-stated the military’s absolute loyalty to democratic governance in the country.
Speaking yesterday at the official launch of a book titled Winning Hearts and Minds, anchored by the defence headquarters, Gen. Abbe maintained that though the country was currently witnessing hard times, it would come out much better at the end of the day.
According to him, “Nigeria today has the finest men and officers in the armed forces, whose loyalty to democratic governance is total. Any nation that has undergone our type of military history will need a dedicated programme on civil/military relations; therefore, the launch of the book is timely. We as a nation are going through hard times but I can assure you that we will come out of this phase much better. The armed forces reflect the mirror of the society, and as we continue to develop, those constraints between civil and military will fade off.”
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), whose initiative brought about the book which is based on civil/military relationship, noted that the book presentation ‘marked a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts of the Nigerian Armed Forces to balance its need for professionalism, with submission to civil authority and responsibility to the citizenry’
He regretted that though the Nigerian military had done well and commended accordingly for their exploits in peace keeping operations the world over, it remained much vilified in the country.
“Even the exploits and successes of our armed forces in peace support operations all over the world, which have won global acclaim for our country, hardly resonates with the populace back home. Surely, this unpalatable situation cannot be allowed to persist because of its negative effects on the reputation and operational effectiveness of the armed forces.”
The book, which was edited by Professors Ebere Onwudiwe and Eghosa Osaghae, was described by speakers as timely, considering the current situation in the political history of the country and the need to cement the relationship between the military and the civil society.
Dignitaries at the occasion which took place at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, included the minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Godwin Abbe, minister of state for Defence Abdulrahman Adamu, chairman Senate Committee on Defence and Army, Senator Ibrahim Ida, his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Hon. Oluwale Oke, service chiefs, retired top military officers, and foreign defence attaches to the country, among others.
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