Leadership is a burden. Those who desire to succeed in it must know its rudiments’ and apply it conscientiously. No one plans to fail in leadership; but its ensnaring entrapments impose an inglorious reign on some leaders.Leading the military is a herculean task and a science in its unique class. Whoever executes this responsibility has to go beyond the ordinary to create a positive impression. He must imbibe the virtues of forthrightness, tact, versatility, discipline and precision. He must be a team player who must also be thorough in whatever he does; always aiming at perfection, with a high degree of intolerance for mistakes.
Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen Gabriel Abayomi Olonisakin, is an embodiment of these attributes. He is less vocal, but a thoroughbred professional, who leaves nothing to chance in any assignment.
The CDS oversees and co-ordinates the three disparate arms of the Nigerian Armed Forces- the Army, the Airforce and the Navy. But generally, the CDS is the ombudsman of all the Security Chiefs, just like the arduous task of securing Nigeria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity against external aggressors or violent insurrectional sects rest on his shoulders. He personifies the wisdom and expertise of all subordinates’.
Gen. Olonisakin is providing leadership for service chiefs in Nigeria’s most tormenting era. The country has found itself in a valley of insecurity challenges. He was appointed the CDS by President Muhammadu Buhari at a time Nigeria was roasting in the hands of Boko Haram insurgents, when swathes of territories in the Northeast came under the effective control of the terrorists and thousands of Nigerians were held captive in Boko Haram gulags.
The CDS mounted the throne when armed bandits and cattle rustlers feasted on states and communities in the Northwest region. This band of criminals courageously challenged the efficacy of state power in securing the lives and property of Nigeria.
The armed bandits would violently assail and sack whole communities. With brandished swords, knives and guns, they prevented locals from accessing markets; chased away farmers from farmlands and even imposed movement restriction codes on the citizenry, especially in Zamfara state.
Nigeria’s economic life- wire was threatened in the oil-rich Niger Delta, as militants like the Niger Delta Avengers held the country at the jugular and to ransom. They multiplied in dozens, kidnapping oil workers, blowing up oil pipelines and installations excitedly.
Also, the monster of herders and farmers clashes imposed insecurity in parts of the North Central region. Conflagrations on the Plateau, bloodbaths in Benue, Nasarawa, and Taraba states among others competed for the attention of the military, hence civil security was overwhelmed. Sectarian killings in Southern Kaduna posed yet another pathetic challenge to the mountain of insecurity problems that brought Nigeria on its kneels.
These were the enormity of the security challenges Gen. Olonisakin inherited, but he never faltered. He stepped out with a promise to himself and Nigerians of enthroning respite. In perfect working relationship and synergy with Service Chiefs, the CDS has proved to Nigerians and the world that a professional and focused mind can post positive results from difficult situations where others fail.
Nigerians can testify that under Gen. Olonisakin’s reign as CDS, the Nigerian Army has blighted the raging fire of Boko Haram terrorism in the Northeast and the country generally. No part of Nigeria’s territory is under the control of insurgents. Sambisa forest, the safest haven of terrorists which was chillingly dreaded, has been demystified under his strategic co-ordinating ingenuity. Today, Nigerian troops are at the final stages of the total elimination of Boko Haram terrorism from Nigeria.
Peace has since returned to the Niger Delta region and oil exploration has attained stability in a peaceful environment. The respite from militancy did not just happen; it took an ingenious confrontation of the militants by Nigerian troops to berth any measure of peace and security now pervading in the restive region.
Armed bandits and cattle rustlers have been mesmerised and repressed. They have no capacity to occupy or hibernate in the forests of the Northwest to plan and execute horrendous attacks on Nigerian people. The CDS has ensured farmers are no longer harassed on the fields and plantations nor are markets sealed by these armed assailants’
Gen. Olonisakin dealt a decisive blow on the audacious and criminally-minded rogues who populated IPOB and attempted to illegally erect a separate sovereign nation within Nigeria. People are no longer slaughtered by these armed gangs for their refusal to endorse or identify with the aberrational and destructive self-determination campaigns of IPOB.
And largely, the herders and farmers skirmishes’ have responded to the CDS’s dosage of intervention. The hitherto troubled communities in North central are beginning to feel the aura of peace and security. Nigerians can attest to the waning of these crises, and not its escalation.
Normalcy has also returned to Southern Kaduna and the CDS’s desire to sustain this peace has seen the permanent deployment of troops in these areas to facilitate quick responses to any insecurity threats. Only a leader cast in the mould of Gen. Olonisakin can swim to safety in the midst of these barrage of insecurity challenges.
Quite commendably, Gen. Olonisakin has not exuded any sign of fatigue from these rigorous national assignments. Every day, he radiates more stamina and capacity to do even more for the absolute liberation of Nigeria from the array of armed gangs.
Thus, the CDS’s strategic coordination of the Defence portfolio reflective in the seamless synergy with Service Chiefs is worthy of emulation. And the resultant taming of consuming insecurity in the country through these efforts automatically decorates him with the medal of professional and leadership competence.
– Duniya is a security consultant based in Abuja.