The Nigerian Military School, Zaria, since the restoration of full military training through the aid of Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen.Tukur Yusuf Buratai and NMS commandant, Brig.Gen.Mukhtar Muhammad Bunza, has been turned into a construction site for a conducive learning environment to bring back the vision of the founding fathers despite the economic recession facing the nation, MSUE AZA writes.
The story of the birth of Nigerian Military School(NMS), Zaria, is tied to the history of Nigerian Army (NA) and the process of decolonisation.
According to available records, in 1951, the West African Command of the Royal West African Frontier Force called for the establishment of Boys Company to be patterned after the boys Wing of the British Army in each of the four colonies of Nigeria, the Gold Coast (Ghana), Sierra Leone and the Gambia.
The Boys Company of Nigeria was established with a vision “to inculcate a family tradition into the force” by enrolling children of serving Nigerian Army personnel to be trained as soldiers to replace the departing colonial non-commissioned officers.
At the inception, the school was named Boys Company of Nigeria and had a population of 30 boys divided into four houses, namely Exam, Inglis, Fairbanks and Swynuerton. The name was however changed to the Nigerian Military School in 1960 and the names of the companies were changed to prominent Nigerian cities.
Currently, the school has a population of 1,222 boys divided into seven companies of Kaduna, Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu, Abuja, Calabar and Zaria.
The premier military school which almost turned into an ordinary secondary school in the past has now taken its rightful place under the nation’s warlord, Lt.Gen. Buratai, who is not only aggressively defending the Nigeria territorial integrity but also revamping institutions under his care.
LEADERSHIP Sunday observed that, in the past, the military trainings of young boys were stopped but the Chief of Army Staff, Gen.Buratai, in his desire to reposition the military for efficient performance, has returned NMS traditional statutory role by authorising the resumption of military training.
Facts finding missions revealed that, it was not easy for the once vibrant school until its commandant, Brig. Gen. Bunza, with the full support of the army headquarters, started turning the institution from the past decay into an igneous rock.
On realising that the school’s resources cannot upgrade facilities in the school, the commandant embarked on external adventure to solicit for assistance from government agencies, individuals, groups, other stakeholders and friends of the school. The efforts resulted into the total renovation, modernisation and equipping of the school cook house and the seven dining halls of the various companies by the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. AG Olonisakin who is an ex-Boy of 1973 set.
A staff, who spoke in confidence said that to ensure the availability of water as an important factor for human survival and hygienic environment, the commandant has rehabilitated a borehole by the NMS hall of fame and provided a backup generator to power the water pump:
“In the same vein, he equipped the borehole beside NMS cookhouse with automatic pumping system. In fact, to ensure steady all round supply of water, the commandant has provided dedicated generators to 15 boreholes within the school environment. The general environment of NMS has also been given a facelift with interlocks at the NMS headquarters’ car park and landscaping of the general area. He renovated the Ogundeko hall, NMS quarter guard and main entrance gate.
A duty post has also been constructed for soldiers on duty at Jushi gate.”
A soldier who pleaded anonymity said: “ From the NMS commandant, Brig. Gen. Bunza, to his deputy, Col. JT Aun and other officers, soldiers and staff, they are really making us proud here in this school. When the right and hardworking person is in place, the system will work. The commandant has good initiatives. We thank God, NMS is back”
According to him, to ensure convenience for staff, boys and visitors, the NMS boss constructed toilets for senior secondary school classes, SS1 and SS2 and renovated SS3 boys’ toilets. Also, an inner convenience for the commandant’s office, the conference hall and NMS headquarters conveniences were fully renovated.
He added: “The general welfare of staff is paramount to the commandant. This, he displayed by providing tables and chairs for instructors, allocation of offices to all NMS staff including the intelligence, the military police and directorate of army public relations personnel as well as drill instructors. The Commandant converted and renovated the inherited Nigerian Army Museum building in to the schools’ education wing thereby providing well-spaced and convenient offices to education instructors.”
“The welfare of the boys has also been given priority by the Commandant. To this end, the commandant has constructed a boys’ service centre at the boys’ lines where boys can mend their clothes, fix their shoes and take haircuts. Owing to his commitment to ensure the wellbeing of the boys, Brigadier General MM Bunza has improved the quantity and quality of their meals and upgraded some of the facilities at the medical inspection room which include carving out an isolation room for boys with communicable diseases. Priority has also been given by the commandant to training on some key subjects. He has constructed a geographical garden in order to aid the understanding of the boys. He has also renovated NMS obstacle course and refurbished life jackets for boys’ watermanship training.”
“To ensure entrepreneurship and increase in the schools’ internally generated revenue, the commandant re-activated the NMS paint factory.
The paint produced from this factory has been used extensively for painting within the school environment. Considering the frequency of fire incidence in the country, the commandant ensured that the fire fighting vehicle was refurbished and made ready for use. To ensure that the school is well lit, the commandant has provided halogen lamps at strategic locations as a physical security measure in order to reduce the level of criminality in the school.” The staff narrated.
Another staff who also did not want his name mentioned said : “His efforts also attracted the renovation of two classroom blocks and a computer laboratory by the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engineer Babachir David Lawal, who is also an ex-Boy. The Minister of Interior and former Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Abdulrahman Danbazau equally assisted the school with the sum of two million naira towards renovation of the school library named after his father, a onetime RSM of the School. In addition, the corps commander, Education, Brig. Gen. LF Abdullahi also answered to the clarion call by the commandant and supported the school with the sum of 2million naira for the renovation of Calabar Company.”
In an interview with NMS commandant, Brig. Gen.Bunza, who allowed journalists to inspect the school facilities, he commended Lt. Gen. TY Buratai, the chief of army staff, for transforming NMS: “The chief of army staff has approved the construction of a perimeter fence by the southern flank of NMS, renovation of RSM and chief clerk houses, renovation of NMS Military Wing, six soldiers’ accommodation blocks as well as Kaduna and Lagos Companies. Following the devastating effect of the first rainfall recorded this year on the school, the COAS also approved the immediate renovation of all the affected structures. This includes five boys’ line companies (accommodation), the boys’ battalion company, soldiers among others. The COAS further approved funds for the purchase of boys’ beddings, reactivation of school signal centre and tailoring shed among others. Worthy of mention is the approval for kitting of NMS Boys.”
“To ensure the provision of conducive learning environment for the boys, the ex-boys of United Kingdom, 1976, 1977 and 1981 sets have donated classroom furniture to help address the shortfall of classroom furniture in the school. Also, 1973 set has donated modern library furniture to the school. Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has constructed a 21 computer capacity information and communication centre under their programme of school digital awareness. In addition, National Information Communication Technology Development Agency (NITDA) equipped an 11 desktop computer capacity laboratory supported with solar panel and inverter for the School. While, the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) sponsored the construction of Language laboratory in NMS for the teaching of French and Arabic languages” Bunza explained.