By Sunday Isuwa, Abuja
Minister of Defence, Lt Gen Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd) has described former head of state, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, as the father of modern democracy in Nigeria.
According to him, Abubakar laid the foundation for the return of democracy to the country and was honoured in many countries of the world because of this patriotic feat.
Speaking at the Silver Jubilee anniversary of the National Defence College (NDC) yesterday, Dan-Ali said it was Abdulsalami who set the precedence for Nigeria’s democracy.
“General Abdulsalami Abubakar is the father of
modern democracy in Nigeria. His works speaks for him. Let me tell this gathering that General Abubakar is the eminently most qualified person to deliver the lecture of the Silver Jubilee of this college. He was a Commandant of this college from where he rose to become the Chief of Defence Staff and latter Nigeria’s head of state and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces”, the minister said.
On the NDC, he noted that the past 25 years has been eventful for the college, adding that senior military officers have had one thing or the other to do in the college either as serving officers or participants.
Dan-Ali said, “This college has done well in building the capacity of senior officers of the Nigerian military for national and international assignments. This anniversary is coming at a time when Nigerians are celebrating the successes recorded in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists.
“Let me commend university of Ibadan for working with the college closely. I want to urge all military officers to work hard and protect the Nigerian territorial boundaries”.
The minister who said Nigeria was facing many contemporary challenges, added that all Nigerians must work hard to make the country great.
On his part, the former head of state who was the guest speaker at the Silver Jubilee anniversary of the NDC said many people in the country lack understanding of nation building.
He also noted that introduction of short-term courses at the college will help in putting an end to agitations by various ethnic groups.
According to Abubakar, if the National Defence College is upgraded to the status of a university by the National University Commission (NUC) and its curriculum is reviewed to allow civilians and other men in the armed forces to run short-term programmes, it will help in creating more security awareness and strengthen the unity of the country.
A Abdulsalami said the defence college is an important tool that should be used in tackling national security.
Responding to a question asked by LEADERSHIP Weekend on the possible ways of tackling agitations by various groups in Nigeria, Abubakar said, “I believe if our politicians, our NGOs and stakeholders in this country attend short courses in this National Defence College, they will have a better understanding of security and nation building.
“So, I advocated that our politicians, our NGOs and other professionals should enrol on short-term courses at the NDC. That is if the college is going to be funded to run short-term courses for all the stakeholders of this country. I also believe that since the service has setup a war college, it will be a good thing if this college is upgraded to a university”.
While presenting his paper, Abubakar said the Defence College is important because of its role in shaping defence issues and building of capacity of officers.
He said the nomenclature of Nigeria War College was changed to National Defence College, including the curriculum in order to give room for more strategic studies.
Noting that NDC has done well in the last 25 years in achieving its set goals, Abubakar who was a commandant of the college before rising to be the Chief of Defence Staff and later Head of State said many graduates of the college rose to the peak of their career in the last 25 years.
He continued: “The NDC should be thinking of becoming National Defence University. It should be also equipped to award PhDs and other degrees, with full accreditation by the National University Commission.
“The college must attract more foreign participants and other Nigerians, including civilians to participate in other to strengthen National security”.
Also speaking, the Commandant of the National Defence College, Rear Admiral SIA Alade, said the school has come a long way, from a humble beginning on June 16, 1992 Marina Lagos.
“This college was established to develop men that will manage our defence issues and a total of 2,134 senior officers have graduated since inception. This is in-line with the mandate of the college and we are proud because our men have distinguished themselves”, Alade added.
Alade said the lecture was organised so that they can reflect on the gains and lapses of the college.