Alabi: Only discipline wins the war



Banji Alabi is a lawyer and national president of Ondo State Eminent Persons Group, a gathering of top investors and businessmen from the Southwest state. He spoke with ABIODUN FANORO on the gale of sack in the Nigerian military.

What’s your view of the ongoing cleansing in the military?
It is a universal norm that any institution or organisation that is determined to succeed and desires to regularly meet its goals, must, from time to time, interrogate the capacity and efficiency of its personnel through a number of verifiable measures and standard.

So, the military, as an institution entrusted with the continued existence of a country, and more importantly, survival, safety and security of the human elements that make up such a society before it could be called a country or a nation, needs constant re-tooling and sanitisation of its personnel to ensure that they are fit and combat ready at short notice or emergency.

What the military command is doing in terms of making sure that its men and officers are ready, is in order. It is exactly the same thing as resting obsolete equipment and armaments that could no longer fit for the challenges of modern warfare.

No responsible Commander-In-Chief or Defence Chief that wishes to lead truly professional and discipline soldiers would hear the revelations from the 2014 Ekiti Governorship Election and ignore it.

By the time the military personnel, against their will, and in contradiction to the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, they had sworn to uphold at all times are forced to openly take sides in an election, this could only promote disaffection within the military, which would not augur well for peace and stability in the country.

Even being loyal to the C-In-C?
I know that it has been settled that it is only the president that is vested with the constitutional power to deploy the military with the approval of the Senate. So, to that extent, the president and in this case former president Jonathan must have ordered the deployment. But one question that has not been answered is, did Jonathan direct them to go and commit illegalities? Nobody has answered that in affirmative. Probably, the more important question should be, between the president and the Constitution, who is supreme? Both the president and the soldiers swore to one Constitution, which logically speaking has made the Constitution superior to the president. The president could answer for his actions in office after exit from power, but the Constitution would not. At best, it could only be reviewed or amended in the future.

What this means is that if the briefing or directive you got is in conflict with the Constitution, you have the honour to quit the job, after all, we have cases where people quit some professions or declined to carry out certain instructions, because they ran contrary to their religious faith.

Any link with Buhari’s certificate scandal?
Again, that is part of the abysmal level the military was made to slide to, by not only being partisan, but turning itself into dirty tool to frustrate the political fortunes of those that opposed the candidacy of the former president. That unfortunate incident would have in no small measure led to the weakening of discipline and esprit de corps in the military.

Since the personnel involved could not say no to such an evil plot, of course, they don’t deserve to remain in the military so that they would not pollute others. We must remember that one of the things that promoted indiscipline in the past; the consciousness of members of the military into coup plot was their exposure to politics and the ostentatious life of politicians. That was what exactly happened under the Jonathan administration, we could no longer afford that.

So, in addition to the cleansing, government should go ahead to re-orientate those remaining in the military away from partisan politics.

Some people are of the view that this has again increased the tension in the polity?
I don’t see anything unusual happening in the military right now. What is going on is a normal routine exercise. The alleged tension it is generating is only creation of politicians. If the top echelon of our military is sick and corrupt, as it is the case today, there is nothing wrong in sanitising it. The worst had happened in Ghana before, the country and indeed the military were the beneficiaries.

I’m very sure majority of the soldiers are saddened by the dirty role some of their superiors played in the last election, and more importantly, the way the Boko Haram insurgents made a mess of them before the Buhari administration came on board, which gave them a new leadership and everything needed to fight and defeat the insurgents, a feat they have achieved today.

I’m also of the opinion that no serving soldier would today say he is proud of the startling revelations about their former top brass. If anything, I’m of the opinion that an average soldier in the force today would be full of gratitude to Buhari for restoring the military’s dignity and professionalism.

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