Colonel Gabriel Adetunji Ajayi (retd.), an erstwhile colonel administration and Quarter-Master General of the Lagos Garrison, has identified the biggest problem with the Nigerian military.
Ajayi spoke to TheSun against the backdrop of recent allegation of complicity against the military by a former Minister of Defense, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.).
He said Danjuma, a former chief of army staff, had asked them to disobey him if he told them to do anything unethical during their training at the Nigerian Military School in 1978.
The ex-Defence minister recently caused an uproar when he accused the military of complicity in the killings and destruction of properties going on in some states allegedly by Fulani herdsmen.
Asked what he makes of the allegation and the call on the people to defend themselves, Ajayi said, “By the pedigree of General Danjuma, he holds the reputation of a no-nonsense man.
“He was my Chief of Army Staff. I remember vividly in 1978, he visited us while we were on a course at the Nigerian Military School of Infantry.”
“And he forthrightly told us that if he, as our Chief of Army Staff asked us to do anything unethical that we should disobey him.”
“So he is a very forthright person. He is not a frivolous man; he would not speak without having concrete proof and evidence. I don’t like the way Nigerian military have been behaving for quite some time now and I am not happy about it.”
“They react to certain things that need not to react to. If the military is owned by Nigeria and Nigerians are complaining about certain things, all they need to do is not to defend themselves but to look at those things and carry out amendments where necessary.”
“One mistake I found with the military throughout my career is that all of us believe our loyalty is to the Commander-in-Chief and not to Nigeria whereas the Commander-in-Chief himself is supposed to be loyal to Nigeria. ”
“The military must see itself as an agent of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and acts as such. They are not to defend themselves. The constitution is made for Nigeria; Nigeria is not made for the constitution.”
“If you are saying you want to carry out your constitutional responsibility you must know that the nation is above the constitution. The nation can afford to throw away the constitution and make another one but the constitution cannot afford to do away with the nation.”
“So if people of Danjuma’s pedigree are saying something as serious as that, it is not for the military to immediately reply and begin to debunk the claims.”
“What they need to do is for them to look inwards and see what has gone wrong. If a former Chief of Army Staff could turn round to say his boys are partial, it is like a father telling his children that they are not doing the right thing, Danjuma is a father to the military.”
“I don’t think he can be frivolous in his statement. All we need to do is to examine what he has said, see where we have gone wrong and make the necessary amendments.”
“It is very unfortunate for the military to start saying that they are impartial when many senior federal government officials have said that the herdsmen are from Chad, Niger, which means they are violators of national integrity so the question of being neutral and handling them with kids ‘glove does not arise except something is hidden somewhere.”
“But as far as I am concerned, I don’t like our institutions to react to criticism the way they do rather they should look into those criticisms.”