By Johnson Eyiangho
Abuja – The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai has attributed some recent operational setbacks suffered by the Nigerian army in recent time to insufficient willingness and commitment by commanders to perform assigned tasks.
Buratai made the assertion on Tuesday when he declared open a transformational leadership workshop organised by the army for its middle cadre officers and soldiers.
“It is unfortunate, but the truth is that almost every setback the Nigeria army has had in our operations in recent times can be traced to insufficient willingness to perform assigned tasks: or simply insufficient commitment to a common national/military course by those at the frontlines.
“Many of those on whom the responsibility for physical actions against the adversary squarely falls are yet to fully take ownership of our common national or Service cause.
“I, therefore, believe that the transformational leadership workshops will again remind and clarify to participants what our President and Commander in Chief meant by: “This generation and indeed, future generations of Nigerians have no other country but Nigeria; we must remain here and salvage it together.
“Although the president made the remark about 35 years ago, it was “still relevant today given as we see in some cases that apathy has even increased amongst the younger generations.’’
According to Buratai, leadership is important to the military professionalism; hence all military professional courses include aspects of military leadership skills acquisition.
He explained that military leadership skills equip personnel with the capacity to control and care for members of their group from the lowest tactical to the highest operational level.
Buratai said that the army conducts special military leadership programmes when necessary to complement what was provided in the routine courses.
He said that such programmes, however, were mainly designed to build capacities that enhance the intellectual and physical components of a fighting force: “the ‘How’ we fight and the ‘what’ we fight with.
He argued that a professional army also needs to build up and sustain its moral component: the ‘why’ we fight.
“This is because one general effect of modernization, globalization and ICT in the last few decades have seen a decline in nationalistic enthusiasm.
“Transformational leadership programmes are solely designed to imbue in leaders, the consciousness and respect for the unique value of their nation and institutions through which they render service to their nation.
“This is done without undermining the imperatives of international cooperation or general inter-dependency of humans.’’
He said the workshop was clearly and explicitly designed to teach/preach transformational leadership values to the next generation of the Nigeian army leaders (officers and soldiers).
“It would also establish a platform for subsequent mentoring of participants after the workshop, hence the theme has been aptly chosen as `lead, follow or get out of the way’.
It is worthy to note that the army has had good success over the years in the grooming of military leaders.
“This is evident in the many successes achieved in our operations and the high performance of our personnel (both officers/soldiers) in international/multinational operations or other military duties.
“However, this is the reason why I have always ensured that the promotion of personnel is essentially based on professional considerations only but we all know that professional capacity is not a sufficient condition to succeed in a task; willingness to perform the task is equally necessary,” Buratai said.
He urged the participants to put the highest level of seriousness to achieve the full objectives of the workshop and ensure that the precious time and efforts of the resource persons were not wasted.
“I charge you all to lead, follow or get out of the way.’’