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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Air Chief Marshall, Alex Badeh Says "Soldier With A Rifle Cannot Claim To Be Under-Equipped"

The Chief of Defence staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh, says any Nigerian soldier with a riffle cannot complain of being under-equipped. According to him, Nigerian soldiers enjoy free accommodation, transportation, Electricity and other pecks which those in the civil service do not enjoy. Badeh said this and more in an interview with the Defence Headquarters magazine recently.

We live in houses we don’t pay for accommodation, we have buses that bring troops to work every day and take them back home, we don’t pay for light, we don’t pay for water, our salaries are good compare to what is paid in the civil place, if someone with school certificate joins the Army, by the time he is five years in the service, his salary has doubled that of a graduate. Why do you think Nigeria is doing that for us? Nigeria is doing that for us because we have vowed that we will defend our nation if need be with our blood; so for a soldier to come up and say am not well equipped, yet you have a riffle; what do you want? You want APC, you want tanks? The basic weapon of an infantry man is riffle, so why should there be mutiny…” he said
Full interview after the cut...
For about 10 months now you’ve been on this saddle and of course from our vantage position as information managers we’ve heard a lot of encomiums, and applause coming from people who identify with the military and your achievements being the Chief of Defence Staff at a very critical period in our history; we are having insurgencies and security challenges almost in every nook and cranny of the nation. Sir how has it been piloting the affairs of the Nigeria Armed Forces?

Thank you for coming this morning and it’s my pleasure to meet you. It’s been about nine months really since I came here and it’s has also been challenges here and there. However, you know that when you are working with a very good team, things work seamlessly. The way I have been operating with the service chiefs have been quite harmonious and that’s why you don’t hear divergent voices outside because we talk as one, we act as one knowing that we have only one objective and that the objective is the interest of Nigeria. There is none of us that have any personal ambition or reason to act independently outside this broad objective. That’s why I said it has been very seamless, very good.
Sir, taking a look at the records, you are the 15th CDS and I don’t think any of those before you had it so challenging the way it’s been since you took over. Will you kindly give us your impression or assessment of the current security situation and how are you are really handling it?

You see, my belief is that God never gives you a load you cannot carry after all He is the one that made your neck. So if God knows that your neck is going to break He will not give you load that can break it. Quite honestly, it’s been very challenging but that’s what we are trained for. While I was I was the Chief of Air Staff, we were on this issue so moving over here only means that I can give advice or I can direct better because I already have a kind of first-hand experience of what we have been up against. 

Not every person out there can carry what you are carrying and still be walking. Our readers will like to know what actually prepared you for the leadership position you are occupying now and even the ones you have occupied in the past. Was there anything spectacular about you that made you strong to face challenges like this and yet moving and smiling?

Being prepared for an office is sometimes a function of experience or grooming. If an officer for instance has been groomed all along and he discharges himself very well in every office he has occupied, then that’s the grooming am talking about. I was a Directing Staff at the Defence College, I was also Chief of Policy and Plans at the Air Force Headquarters, I was an Air Officer Commanding, then Chief of Air Staff before now. I believe this is enough grooming for anybody to function well in this kind of position. If you allow pressure to weigh you down as a leader; if a leader starts crying, then what do you expect the followers to do? They’ll run away; so under whatever circumstance, someone must keep his cool as you direct. Don’t forget that we have put people in harm’s way, they have gone to war; so, if I start crying, those people at the war front will say oh there’s no hope. But if we maintain very positive attitude, it means there is hope and they can see that there is hope. That is my inspiration. To give the leadership that is not afraid of either taking decisions, or not afraid of telling people to do this or do that because I am doing my own part. So I must maintain the positive attitude. 
Sir, for some time now you have facing the daunting challenges curbing the excesses of terrorists in the North East and at a point the Government declared a state of emergency in that region; what is your assessment of the activities of the terrorists, the Government’s response and the role of the military so far?

There has been so much misgiving in Nigeria about the declaration of State of Emergency. Even in the constitution it is written that a state governor can request the president to declare state of emergency if the security situation in his state degenerates. So the declaration of a State of Emergency is not something primitive. The declaration of state of emergency is just a way of solving some very serious security challenges. It allows the military to arrest people and keep them beyond 24hours or beyond 48hours; it allows you to conduct searches without having to obtain search warrant and if you remember when this insurgency started in the North East, we were doing house searching in Maiduguri Metropolis. That is the leverage the State of Emergency gave us; we go from place to place to carry out counter-terrorist operations without any inhibition. It gave us right to place curfew in towns and curtail people’s rights and that has actually allowed us to curtail and contain the activities of these terrorists. By and large, the state of emergency has been a success and by the grace of God, I don’t think we are going to look for another extension of state of emergency because with the way we are going we are doing very well. 
You agree with us that the security problem we have in Nigeria is not just in the North East; if we go to the Niger Delta for instance, we have the issue of theft of our oil and other marmite assets. The DHQ rightly established a couple of Joint Taskforces to take care of these obstacles. How much have these Joint Taskforces like the Operation Pulo Shield in the Niger Delta and Operation Safe Haven on Plateau established in response to security threats achieved the role for which they are set up?

Let me say something before I answer your question. For a long time, Nigerians were not been able to express themselves because of the kind of regimes we have had in the past. However, with democracy comes openness and virtually everybody can express themselves. I want to say that in fact the Nigeria Armed Forces is today very much part of our democratic experience and is helping to deepen that credential. In Jos, Plateau State, we had all this communal clashes and you now that that thing was purely political and that’s why I said that democratic space have enabled everybody to everybody to express themselves and so you have the good, the bad and the ugly. Now in the North East, we are actually facing the ugly. And it started moving on the Plateau before the north east. On the Plateau, we had all these communal clashes and you know that that thing was purely political. That’s why I said with openness people started demanding for their own kind of thing to express themselves and that’s what happened in Jos. In the Niger Delta it’s the same thing, ‘resource control’, ‘it is our own…’ and so on. That is the openness which is no longer like those days so when the excesses became too much in the Niger Delta, we had to establish the JTF which has had various stages; right now we have operation Pulo Shield over there. We have gone from trying to stop the militants from saying everything is their own, we are into the business of trying to stop illegal bunkering and stealing of our common wealth. That’s what Op pulo Shield is doing there and I can tell you it’s been very successful. I must commend the Nigerian Navy for their wonderful effort down there. We also have a very serious person as the Commander of Operation Pulo Shield, Major General Atewe. He calls me virtually every night and tells me what he’s doing and I thank God too that we have a Chief of Naval Staff who has never been in support of this stealing of our corporate wealth in the Niger Delta. He promised that he was going to stamp out that theft and he’s doing everything he can to stop it.
Read the rest here