Published On: Mon, Feb 17th, 2014

The task ahead of new Army chief, Minimah

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By Joy Baba

On Thursday, 16 January 2014, an era came to an end and a new chapter opened in the history of the Nigerian Army, President Goodluck Jonathan named General Kenneth Minimah as the19th Chief of Army Staff (COAS).

Lt Gen Azubuike Ihejirika (rtd) formally exited the force few days ago when he was ‘pulled out’ to enable his immediate predecessor, General Minimah take up the reigns in tackling the challenges ahead.

During his ceremonial ‘Pulling Out Parade’ which took place at Mogadishu Cantonment in Abuja, Ihejirika blamed the current insurgency in the north eastern part of the country on the porous nature of Nigerian border in the zone.

The former COAS was full of praises for the army and he did not mince words in letting Nigerians know that his successor, Minimah is up to the task of salvaging Nigeria’s security.

Ihejirika laid the burden on Minimah’s shoulders with a word of advice, to ensure quality leadership of the Nigerian Army, one deserving of its status in the comity of nations bearing in mind the Nigerian Army’s mandate of defending the Nigeria against both external and internal aggression and also promoting national unity especially at this time of frayed nerves in the country’s polity.

A cursory look at General Ihejirika’s achievements when he took over as COAS in 2012 signpost a vision, “to transform the Nigerian Army into a force better able to meet contemporary challenges”. To actualize this vision, Ihejirika said the army under his leadership focused on sustaining the Nigerian Army’s transformation process his predecessor started as a launch pad.

Some of the visible achievements of his tenure include the establishment of the 7 Division as the operational nucleus of the Counter Insurgency in the North East, establishment of the 14 Brigade and its organic units to enhance internal security in the South East and environs, establishment of Directorate of campaign planning which prepares the blue print and contingency plans for ongoing and future operations , establishment Department of Civil Military Affairs to promote effective relations between the Nigerian Army and the larger society amongst others.

Therefore, Ihejirika’s expectations and indeed, Nigerians from the army, under the leadership of Minimah, would be to surpass his predecessor’s achievements even as he charts his own agenda.

“The major challenge and task ahead for Minimah is how to bring to an end insurgency in the north eastern part of the country since the army’s 7 Division is currently in full charge of that area.

Nigerians who reside in the north eastern part of the country and other Geo – political zones want to go to bed with their two eyes closed”, Ihejirika indicated.

The Nigerian Army seems to have difficulties coping with the challenges of the porous borders in the north east zone, a development which has reportedly heightened insurgency in the area.

Minimah’s predecessor gave the new COAS some clues about the situation and tasked him to work hand in hand with other security agencies especially, the Immigration service with a view to curbing indiscriminate infiltrations of arms and ammunition into the country.

“You should also ensure that those manning the borders do thorough check on anyone coming into the country; to be sure their passport and documents are valid”.

True, Nigerians expect more hard work from the armed forces. Amongst others, they expect the Army Quick Response Group and Anti Kidnapping Units, working with other security agencies to stem the growing menace by being extremely functional.

Another high expectation of Nigerians from the Army units being inducted into internal security operation under the new leadership is for troops to adhere strictly to the “Rules of Engagement”, to avoid wanton killing of innocent citizens and destruction of properties.

The importance of continued training for the military forces to understand counterinsurgency doctrine and theory need not be reemphasized since relatively little research has been conducted concerning how this mission should be carried out. But for now, the Nigerian Armed forces have a long way to go in the fight against insurgency given the current reports of increased terrorism in the north east. Herein lies another lesson for Minimah, that the fight is getting tougher and all hands of the armed forces must be on deck to succeed while the option of dialogue still beckons.

General Minimah, the new army chief enlisted into the Nigerian Army as a member of 25 Regular Combatant Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy on 3 January, 1979 and was commissioned on 18 December, 1981 into the Infantry Corps. He has attended several courses including Jungle Warfare and Combat Survival Course, Young Officers Course Infantry as well as Basic and Advanced Airborne Courses. Others include Junior and Senior Staff Courses as well as the National War College, now National Defence College.

Major General Minimah has held several appointments including Commanding Officer, 149 Infantry Battalion, Directing Staff, Armed Forces Command and Staff College and Colonel Administration, 82 Division, Nigerian Army. He was also Commanding Officer, Nigerian Battalion 2, United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, Commandant, Depot, Nigerian Army, Commandant, Nigerian Army School of Infantry, Commander, 1 Brigade, Sokoto, Director of Standards and Combat Readiness and General Officer Commanding, 81 Division. Until his recent appointment, he was the Commander, Infantry Corps.

He holds an Advanced Diploma in Public Administration, Bachelor of Arts degree in History and International Studies as well as a Master degree in Strategic Studies from the University of Ibadan. He is also a recipient of several medals including Forces Service Star, Meritorious Service Star and Distinguished Service Star.

Nigerians expect Minimah with his qualifications and years of experience in the military, to take army to greater heights.


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