The new Minister of Defence, Brigadier General (rtd) Monsur Dan-Ali on Friday stirred up a hornet's nest by remarking that the immediate past Chief of Army Staff (CoAS), Lt-Gen. Kenneth Minimah (rtd) and the Nigerian Army under him did not show respect for President Muhammadu Buhari during his WAEC certificate controversy before the 2015 general election.
Dan-Ali, who assumed duties at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Abuja, began his tenure on a note many regarded as controversial by opening old wounds concerning the Buhari certificate crisis without backing it up with facts.
The new Minister of Defence told the officers at the MoD: “Where is your integrity when your own Chief of Army Staff (Minimah) stood up and said his Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (sic) has no WAEC. How? Please let us be sincere with ourselves. Because you should have stood up and said ‘no’; because you were there, you could not. If you leave the job, is it the end of your life? If you leave the job there are other ways; better ways God can bless your life."
During the heat of the certificate crisis preceding the 2015 elections, Buhari claimed that his original WAEC certificate was with the military authorities. But the military denied it.
Dan-Ali also said President Buhari was a man of integrity who had clearly and openly shown that he was ready to fight insurgency in Nigeria.
To this end, Dan-Ali urged the officers and men of the armed forces to imbibe the spirit of integrity, honesty and transparency in their work, which he noted, is the hallmark of excellent leadership.
"Gentlemen, the military is all about leadership. The President is a military man and he had shown leadership. Whether you like it or not, the President is a military man and he has shown leadership. We, the followers must show leadership. And what is leadership if I may ask? Leadership is all about integrity, honesty and transparency.
"There cannot be a good leader without these three things. You cannot be a good leader if you do not have integrity. You cannot be a good leader if you don’t have honesty, so also, transparency. Forget about corruption. Corruption can never come near you if you have these qualities. So gentlemen, we should imbibe these three qualities," he said.
Speaking further, Dan-Ali promised to improve military welfare, and as well as resolve the nagging troops rotation problem, especially those involved in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations against the Boko Haram in the North-east.
He frowned at the situation where some officers and men had been deployed to the conflict zones for years without being replaced and directed that no personnel should be allowed to stay in a conflict zone for more than one year.
"On troops rotation; gentlemen, let's not take it as a joke. If the Chief of Army Staff is deployed in the front without seeing his family, how would he feel? So also the soldiers you are sending there? Please for God sake, let's make it maximum, one year. I will ensure that it is my cardinal principle that no soldier… unless, it is not possible, exceeds the maximum of one year," he said.
In a related development, the minister called for accountability in procurement of arms and as well as cooperation amongst different military services and other security agencies.
Dan-Ali also stated that the changes in strategy introduced by the Buhari administration had ensured that the terrorists are defeated well ahead of the December deadline.
"The APC has promised even before the coming of the Buhari administration that they would fight insurgency. The terrorists are on their way out. Even before the December deadline, they would be routed. I am not in doubt that Nigerian soldiers are the best and among the best in the one," he said.
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