By Comrade Oladimeji Odeyemi
At the inception of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, one thing was clear to all, here was a soldier’s soldier coming to tackle a most difficult and daunting task of winning the war against terrorism.
Before the Buhari administration came into the office, the previous administration for the most part of its six years of existence had battled, albeit unsuccessfully the Boko Haram terror group, adjudged as one of the deadliest, if not the deadliest in the world. Such was the enormity of this task.
Although the reins of governance fell into Buhari’s way through a landslide victory at the 2015 elections, the task of fighting terror was given to a certain General Tukur Yusuf Buratai by his appointment as the Chief of Army Staff and by extension the man upon whom the biggest responsibility yet, in recent times fell upon not only to win a most unconventional warfare against terror, but to organize a largely disillusioned, ill-equipped, low in morale army, that had so suffered on many fronts, in organization, motivation and infrastructure, more than in the fronts fighting terror.
Therefore the tasks were legion.
Changing The Military With Servant Leadership
Exactly 30 months after, the very unassuming gentleman and a General, Buratai can be said to have equally achieved in legionary and legendary proportions by bringing his uniqueness into changing the military with his purposeful servant-leader military style of leadership in which the high morale of the soldiers was brought back and trust restored between the rank and file and the commanding officers.
Today, there is no organized terror attacks of the kind we used to see, only isolated soft-target suicide bombers occasionally detonate mostly alone on self as the capacity of Boko Haram terror has practically been decimated and reduced to nothingness.
How Was General Buratai Able To Do This?
There are a number of significant difficulties for today’s military – the global war on terrorism or what has recently been termed the “Long War on Boko Haram;” weapon system acquisitions and personnel drawdowns have been a hindrance with Nigeria denied access to sophisticated weapons in the past and the past administration, mismanaging and embezzling of funds meant for weapons procurement.
The focus of this article is on one strategic component of the exemplary leadership of General Buratai, who in spite of many odds, and in the face of little international support, meagre equipment and falling morale, was still able to shape the Nigerian Army significantly as to make it functional, professional and a worthy army, a pride to the noble profession of the military, recognized all over the world for bringing terror to its knees.
And in just such a short time too.
Effectiveness Of General Buratai’s Leadership
As earlier stated, Buratai’s servant leadership has been the major turning point in making the huge difference, from the period of his appointment, to date.
The Army’s definition of leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization.
Therefore an army leader is required to inspire and influence people to accomplish their goals.
From a culture of stealing army funds, stealing funds meant for procurement of arms, from a rag tag army with no logistics back-up, General Buratai simply put himself in the place of his soldiers, feeling their pain as his pain, knowing their needs as his needs — He wasn’t the boss who stayed to far from his troops, he lived among them.
Buratai is a leader who motivates people both inside and outside the army to help them pursue their goals, focus on their thinking, and shape decisions for the better of the army.
Buratai took his unique leadership style to the world, appearing on the world stage with Tim Sebastián on the world acclaimed, “HardTalk”, strengthening not only the Army but deepening Nigeria’s democracy by telling the whole world his resolve to exterminate terror as well as defend Nigeria’s democracy, a deep resolve to which he has played an exemplary role.
When there were rumours of a coup, Buratai came out to not only accept the rumblings of a coup but also assured us all that such a precursor to a coup has been nipped in the bud.
Such is the kind of servant leader that Buratai is, his loyalty to Nigeria and to President Muhammadu Buhari, never in doubt. He’s a soldier’s soldier.
Loyalty As Buratai’s Watchword
In leadership loyalty, although a vital ingredient, can only be acquired by those who are innately and inherently loyal. In the army, loyalty is perhaps more than just a need, it is a pillar upon which the military structure rests. Yet, the Nigerian Army before Buratai could always be seen more in the activities preceding his appointment as a mixed conundrum of both loyal and disloyal officers and “coupists”!
But Buratai, to date, has left no one in doubt where his loyalty lies, to the country, and to the President.
In all the six zones of our dear country, the Army under Buratai has stayed true to the indivisibility of the country. Our country is safer today because of the unique leadership style, loyal and selfless service provided by the Chief of Army Staff.
Buratai’s philosophy seems to echo the very words of the great military strategist, Napoleon Bonaparte, “as long as there is the self-determination to do what is best for the nation, every other consideration is secondary”.
In one of his many interviews, General Buratai maintained that, “The main principles of leadership in the army are down to the acronym LDRSHIP —Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selflessness, Honour, Integrity, Personal-courage.
These are the type of characteristics he said the army under him aims to instil in each solider, and to all intents and purposes, General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, has done all of these.
Lesson From Having A Leader Like General Buratai
Being an exemplary leader in the army requires having mental strength. There is a common misconception that people who are physically strong are the ones who make great leaders. But again, we have seen in the ever smiling gentle General that his greatest strength lies in his mental faculty and capabilities.
We have also seen in the example of Buratai, a good leader needs to be mentally strong and able to make firm, sound minded decisions.
Fighting terrorism is more of intelligence gathering and counter-espionage, more of a game of wits than bare braggadio, when the enemy you are fighting is not the conventional Army and may even be lurking in the market place, mosques, churches, where civilians reside. Perhaps, this is where Buratai in 30 months have won, where others in 5 years have failed in the war against Terror.
Mahatma Gandhi was an exceptional leader in that he was able to satisfy the basic psychological needs of his followers. Ghandi, a small frail man whom was soft spoken and practiced resolute leadership style, is a prime example of being a leader that is not strong physically or boisterous. He was able to move thousands of people to action in India and at the same time inspired the entire globe with his non-violent methods.
Buratai, with his soft spoken, almost shy nature, has been able to gain the confidence of his men, that today, under his leadership, the Nigerian Army is the pride of our dear Nation.
Today, we salute this exemplary leader, consummate soldier and meritorious Chief of Army Staff who came when his country needed him most and has continued to serve humanity and has impacted positively on this generation. His name in the annals of history, we are very sure of worthy, most irreproachable place in which he will be remembered for his selfless services rendered to motherland, saving Nigeria from being consumed by terror and from a certain political destabilization, especially within the period our dear President was away for over a hundred days on a medical vacation with all the various intrigues that played out, in which a certain General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, stood firm behind the country and behind his President.
Comrade Oladimeji Odeyemi is a Security Analyst and a Counter Terrorist Expert. He is also the President of the National Committee of Yoruba Youth (NCYY) and the Convener of the Coalition of Civil Society Groups Against Terrorism in Nigeria.
Schneider Electric: Driving the Digital Transformation of Nigeria with Augmented Reality
The future impact of Augmented Reality (AR) will significantly transform businesses and consumer marketplaces in Nigeria, should its adoption be accelerated across various industries and platforms, says Schneider Electric.
As more breakthroughs in technology continue to take root, the group has remained consistent in sensitizing its partners on the potential of AR, being one of the keys to digital transformation in the industry. Companies must therefore capitalize on AR and pursue the opportunities that can significantly boost operational productivity and enhance efficiency.
Speaking on this innovative technology, Belema Koleoso, Territory Technology Lead, Schneider Electric, says although much progress has been made since 2019 when Schneider Electric’s AR technology EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor (EAO) was launched as a global hero offer, which works to enhance data accessibility for quicker and more accurate decision making, there remains a lethargy in the Nigerian market to adopt this technology.
Company campaigns have been run to sensitize clients to understand how EAO uses AR technology to optimize the operation and maintenance of industrial sites and equipment, AR aids effectiveness, helps to optimize human assets, and bridges the prevalent generational skill gaps. In this regard, she specifically highlighted the workforce crises that Schneider Electric foresees in the next 5-6 years, with the aged industrial population as the search for well-trained workers sometimes poses a challenge.
Belema says with AR, companies do not need to lose the experience plants cultivate with the exit of personnel, instead, years of training and experience can be “retained” through iteration of workforce turnover. For example, templates, assets, and manuals can be aggregated into the EOA application, customizable by the client; it puts real-time information at your fingertips, whenever and wherever it is needed, enabling operators to superimpose current data and virtual objects onto a cabinet, machine, or plant. This software combines contextual and local dynamic information for mobile users, enabling them to experience a fusion of the physical, real-life environment with virtual objects. It becomes a mobile work buddy for employees commencing the learning curve and in all reduces operational cost while increasing plant operational efficiency. This ensures that people who are put into the system meet the experience that others who passed through the system left behind.
AR presents completely new ways of executing tasks, with instant diagnosis, contactless maintenance, increased efficiency, and lower cost. Industries, including construction, aviation, consumer packaged goods, energy and chemical, mining and minerals etc., can use EOA to enhance their operations. The cloud-based software rides on any controller to learn activities and aggregates assets, moving past proprietary original equipment manufacturer parent protocols to focus on the tasks.
Schneider Electric believes increased industry leaders across sectors can therefore use EOA to their advantage, where data drives processes and decisions metamorphosizing to “smart decision makers,” riding on data to make optimal decisions smarter and faster.
In retrospect, Belema says the pre-covid in Nigeria technologies like AR were seen as typically “nice to have.” She says she highly anticipates a time when more people will understand the immense benefit of this innovation and evaluate this technology as a necessity. “Often, the feedback on this is a nice-to-have, after a review of what AR offers. But I will push for people to look at it like this – When you have something that will optimize your processes, it moves from being a nice-to-have to a must-have.”
To drive this renewed mindset, the AR expert opines policies, such as the environmental sustainability policy, can bolster digital transformation. Stakeholders would need to advocate an optimized use of energy sustainably. Enforcement of which would naturally drive the adoption of technology across industries quicker.
“When people see that sustainability policies are enforced, for example, you are penalized for not meeting a target, or incentivized for meeting a target; you would see that the case would be different. Naturally, people will begin to adopt technology to meet their goals.”
She also advocates for Nigerians to consider AR as a total cost of investment that enhances optimal output, as customers are more prone to adopt a baseline approach, where they are satisfied with running their operations minimally without incurring additional costs.
With technology improving and becoming more widely available, it is undeniable that AR will become essential for businesses to thrive in the upcoming years. Schneider is optimistic that its position as a thought leader and industry partner in the digital transformation of energy management and automation is about to gain new ground, enabling the emergence of a new landscape of energy, paradigm shifts for the industry, and a revolutionized experience.
Climate Change: Between Harriman and Kayanja Ideologies
By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi
The debate on climate change is among the most presently discussed topics on the earth’s surface. All these years, I have, going by the commentaries from the Western world, believed that Africa’s non-commitment to the call for global action on climate change was responsible for the real and imaginary challenges confronting the continent.
Making this perceived climate change challenge look real was the recent news report that to tackle the problems, the World Bank Group has committed about $70 billion and urged governments of different nations to set up structures to engage and access the fund.
However, such a belief system recently underwent a positive transformation while listening to Professor Tosan Harriman of Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria.
Tosan, who spoke at the GbaramatuVoice Niger Delta Economic Discourse series held in Warri, Delta State, among other things, said; “the truth is this, we saw the hypocrisy of these people (Western worlds) recently when, because of the Ukraine-Russian war, they are not talking anymore about clean energy, rather, we see them go back again focusing on coal, getting out coal to drive the heat.”
“Africa cannot give away its resources because Africa doesn’t need the English of climate change. Our continent is blessed, our continent has resources, and our continent is galvanizing on those resources to ensure there’s a global world order. Taking Africa’s resources from Africa is like committing Africa to another new colonial tendency that will finally incapacitate and make it useful in the global situation of things, and that’s exactly what my argument has been.
“So, quickly, therefore, let’s have our mindset reconstructed about the fact that we are not a danger to Europe and America; we are not a danger to politics of climate change. The only grammar behind climate change is the economy.
“If they take from you the resources that offered you a comparative advantage, it opens them up to their economic value in the context of a global chain, in the context of a global productivity chain, it opens them up to their economic value where they now begin to sell clean energy to people like us in Africa who don’t need it. It’s so important we have these facts properly straightened out before we get into this other issue.
“The world has been talking about clean energy, what we call resistance against greenhouse gas emission. The kind of carbon deducted from the exploration of our crude oil, those are the carbons that we have, and that’s what the world has been talking about. They needed clean energy that would help the Arctic Circle maintain its height and then help the entire ecosystem to be properly balanced along the lines of certain determination that they thought had been there from the beginning and all of that.
“In Europe and America, if you actually desire clean energy, you should not in the 21st century be talking about coal because coal is all about greenhouse gas emission. If you go to the home of the Queen, you will see them using coal, and I keep making this argument that if Norway as a nation has the level of oil we have, nobody will be talking about greenhouse gas, nobody will be talking about climate change, and I have always held the position that every nation should be allowed to grow within the context of his own resources.”
He said that the best the world can do, which is an issue he raised at the Cairo 27th conference recently held, is that we should look at the conditions of African nations, what we call the dependent nations and all of that, dependent on the global world situation and all of that.
“We should look at their conditions, and then we can’t take them; we can’t take from them the issues that directly propel their sustenance; we can’t be talking of climate change when the entire nation of Africa depends on what creates a greenhouse. The best we can do is to scientifically, now begin to look at this resource and then redesign it in such a way as to mitigate the fears that are already being expressed by these other groups fighting for climate change. Those are the issues we raised, and it’s so profound that the world needs to hear us,” he concluded.
Comparatively, while Professor Tosan’s ideology/argument made a whole lot of sense to me, I, however, still recall how Mr Ronald Kayanja, Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), spoke on the same topic (climate change) but maintained a different view.
This was at a function on Friday, September 20, 2019, in Lagos to mark the year’s International Day of Peace, which had as a theme Climate Action For Peace. Kayanja’s understanding and postulations about climate change were the direct opposite of Tosan’s argument.
Apart from Kayanjas’ definition of climate change as changes in these weather patterns over several decades or more which make a place become warmer or receive more rain or get drier, what made the lecture crucial was the awareness of the dangers of and warning on the urgent need to address climate changes which he said have become even clearer with the release of a major report in October 2018 by the world-leading scientific body for the assessment of climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), warning that in order to avoid catastrophe, we must not reach 1.5 C and 2oC.
In a similar style, Kayanja in that presentation used an analytical method and properly framed arguments to underline how; the current conflict in North-East Nigeria is not unrelated to the changes in climate in that region over time. As well as provides a link as to how; the climate change challenge also sets the stage for the farmer and herder violence witnessed in parts of West Africa and many countries that face violent conflicts in Africa: Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Sudan (Darfur), Mali and the Central Africa Republic.
He argued that local tensions over access to food and water resources could spill over into neighbouring countries as people seek to find additional resources and safety – placing more strain on the resources of those countries, which could amplify tensions. In these instances, climate change does not directly cause conflict over diminishing access to resources, but it multiplies underlying natural resource stresses, increasing the chances of a conflict.
As to what should be done to this appalling situation, the UN boss said that the UN Secretary-General had made climate action a major part of his global advocacy, calling on all member states to double their ambition to save our planet.
For me, as the debate rages, it is important to underline that Kayanja’s position looks alluring in principle. But then, this piece holds the opinion that African leaders and policymakers must not allow the propositions canvassed by Tosan go with political winds.
Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Policy) at Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via email@example.com/08032725374
Economy: Simplistic Thinking in Africa and African American Communities
By Nneka Okumazie
There is caution in African American communities not to criticise each other to avoid appearing to take the side of others against the community. This agreement, useful in a few cases, has become part of the problem of the community where there is an appearance to condone horrible things.
If the problem is to avoid sounding like others, then another channel to criticize but not sound like others should have been sought.
In the community, the killings of the same kind, even for some who have made it, sometimes over absurd things, meets mute responses or fierce firestorm from the leaders of the community.
Do not criticize has allowed all kinds of comments and behaviours to fester in the community, and it keeps getting worse, but everyone minds their business because black people come first even if it is evil.
There is a limit to protests. There is a limit to heightened sensitivity over the past. There is a limit to ignoring internal responsibility. Proclamation of emancipation is a starting point, but every other way, as a people, to ensure more strength has to be sought. Civil rights are great but there is a need for the kind of economic success of Asia to be strong and not act or be seen as a victim because victimhood is limited.
There is a limit to entitlement for the sake of it, in a time when economic concerns are a priority for all. An individual success story is already old for a people with the majority on the lower economic and social side. A charity that benefits a small number of people in a small community is negligible for people. Speaking out for the sake of it, against oppression by other races, is also limited for a successful black. Whatever feel-good story on history or origin may promote fantasy, but ensures backwardness in reality.
As more blacks, everywhere, are getting prominent and failing in some positions, the other races have been able to lob criticisms without getting racial, something that many blacks do not attempt for each other.
There are streams of simplistic thinking that are static ends for a people, and breaking out of it, as a people is important for progress.
In Africa, most people keep saying the government is the problem or corruption. But there are different countries, structures, regions, states, governments, etc. yet there is hardly a major success story comparable with some in Asia.
Asian success is different people in different sectors making progress ahead and above the government so that government gets to adopt those into policy. If everyone with some responsibility or a few in different fields pursues major progress, the government does not have the power to crush all of them. The government would have to adopt or enable some. The excellence that made those would have them draw others. The government too would promote some policies whose success or adoption would meet the advancement the people are seeking, so it would work.
But what is obvious in most African countries is that the government often has the best answer, which is often really low, so from other sectors, things are lower, so most things are worse. And whenever there is a crisis, it is even far worse, because those who could try have failed, so left to the government, everything goes down.
Government is not the problem in any African country so long they have sectors and people who hold responsibility. Simplistic thinking says it is government.
Some have also said that they should use African religions for swearing officials into the office to prevent corruption. If enacted, some people would find a way around it, so it solves nothing.
There are desperate Africans who migrate to other continents, by the sea, desert and other ways, to find survival. Their move is parallel to professionals who run away too, because the place is bad, as a belief, not because they are actually in some dire situation.
There is a comment on brain drain, but brain drain is not a problem for professionals who are replaceable. Many of them would not do better than what government would do, so leaving or staying makes little difference, so no matter the certificates or certifications, it is not a brain drain if their work had not been consistently aiming at progress.
For many, success is seen as location or position when success is time or other things not related to material or resources. The things that are needed for progress, like courage, fairness, sincerity, honour, and selfless diligence for all that is not available, makes many to point to the wrong things.
[Psalm 144:4, Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.]
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