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In 2015, June 30th , there was a Colonel and acting director, army public relations, in the Nigerian Army, who wrote a piece titled “Celebrating the Nigerian Army at 152” in commemoration of the Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) for that year. That was five years ago. In 2018, I also penned a piece in celebration of the Nigerian Army to commemorate the NADCEL, titled “Celebrating the Nigerian Soldier at 155”. It is July again and the Nigerian Army, as usual, is celebrating its annual day, NADCEL 2020, with an interesting theme, “Nigeria’s Territorial Defence and Sovereignty: Imperatives for Nigerian Army’s Sustained Training and Operations.” The focus on these key issues is indeed very commendable in view of the prevailing security challenges in the country.

 

The reasons for these articles were to acknowledge and celebrate the modest achievements and immense roles and contributions of the Nigerian soldier to peace and security in our dear nation, and also national development. From that time till date, a lot has happened to the Nigerian Army and our beloved country. The Nigerian Army has continued to move to greater heights, despite distractions, protracted security challenges, and with meagre resources. Today, Nigeria and the world are facing the unimaginable scale of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this has impacted on the Nigerian Army, our nation and the world at large.

Surprisingly, it is a mixture of knocks and praises. Some people have a good understanding and have been full of commendation, while others are ill-informed and ignorant of what military service and life is all about. Therefore, they do not appreciate or understand the complexities and sacrifices of the military, let alone appreciate its noble contributions to our peace, security and national development. But the most worrisome aspect is the fact that some unpatriotic politicians, detractors and disgruntled elements, who envy the successes and achievements of the leadership of the Nigerian Army, for some inexplicable reasons, seem to be behind the campaigns of calumny against the institution. They are the ones fanning the embers of hatred, disinformation and false narratives about the Nigerian Army.

 

One other reason to further doff our hats for the Army is the way they rose to the occasion on the emergence of the COVID-19 on our shores. Despite being occupied with operations, the Nigerian Army ensured strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols. It kept the disease off the barracks, and it went the extra mile of complementing government efforts by providing palliatives to needy communities.

 

 

Within the last 5  years , the Nigerian Army, under the able leadership Tukur Yusufu Buratai of Lieutenant General and the grand strategic direction of President Muhammadu Buhari, has made giant strides in various spheres of endeavour that cut across operations, training, administration and logistics. The welfare of troops has dramatically improved. Its order of battle has been greatly modified, with new formations and units created to reflect the needs and difficulties of the time. These include the creation of two additional divisions, commands, numerous brigades, units and sub-units. The Army’s dynamism in tactical and operational manoeuvres has brought about the setting up of super camps and motorcycle battalions. These operations are ever dynamic, responding to changing security situations and terrorist modus operandi. Training schools have been upgraded and are adequately funded and equipped. The Army has an Aviation Corps, Women Corps and a University, in addition to an Army War College and the Nigerian Army Resource Centre, a think tank for defence and security issues. New hospitals have been constructed, while most of the existing ones have been upgraded and equipped, with the same going for barracks accommodation. This year’s celebration, though very modest, has recorded the highest number of commissioned projects and humanitarian activities in various parts of the country in the recent history of the Nigerian Army.

 

One other reason to further doff our hats for the Army is the way they rose to the occasion on the emergence of the COVID-19 on our shores. Despite being occupied with operations, the Nigerian Army ensured strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols. It kept the disease off the barracks, and it went the extra mile of complementing government efforts by providing palliatives to needy communities. Therefore, the Nigerian Army has every reason to celebrate itself based on these accomplishments and for the sake of morale building.

In my quiet moments, I realised that there were so many questions begging for answers about why, despite these accomplishments, the Nigerian Army has continued to be misunderstood and is the “whipping boy” of some people. Why is it that some mischievous elements are always determined to rub mud on every laudable action of the Nigerian Army? Are they working alone or in active connivance with insiders? What are their grouse or grievances, if any? Why is the Army not getting the desired support and cooperation it deserves from those statutorily mandated to do so? Unless we find satisfactory answers to these questions and nip them in the bud, the Army will continue to be unappreciated.

people should know that the Nigerian Army is their Army and whatever affects it has direct consequences on national security and unity. Therefore, the unnecessary distraction and campaign of calumny against the leadership and the Nigerian Army, generally, are not in the best interest of this nation.

Brigadier-General Sani Kukasheka Usman (rtd) is the immediate past director of Army Public Relations and is currently a public relations consultant in Abuja. He is also the consultant director, Corporate Affairs and Information Services at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre, Abuja. He can be reached on his twitter handle

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Nigerian Army Celebrates at 157: the Need for More Public Support.

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