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Guide for the Hajj pilgrims and managers



By Muhammad Ajah

Hajj is a very tough journey, full of rites that demand patience, struggle and sacrifice. In simple term, Hajj is a stressful exercise. No wonder the reward is Paradise! Despite the fact that technology has made many things easy for the holy travelers in terms of transportation, facilities and conveniences, the journey is becoming more stressful because of the yearly increasing pilgrims’ population, financial demand and spiritual degradation amongst followers of the Islamic faith. Unfortunately, some Muslims are taking Hajj as a tourist trip devoid of any spiritual value. It should not be so. Hajj is surely a divine journey to be performed by a capable Muslim only once in a life time. Therefore, Muslims must adhere to this divine call and ensue that they carry it out for the sake of Allah alone and in accordance with the teaching of our noble Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

Hajj is full of very tough physical actions because most of the movements within the holy sites sometimes demand trekking. The two entry points for pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabian neighbourhoods are King Abdul-Azeez International Airport Jeddah and Prince Muhammad Bin Abdul-Azeez International Airport, Madinah. All other movements, some being very long journeys of six hours, are by road. Even within the areas where a pilgrim is conveyed to by bus, the driver requires patience and accurate geographical knowledge of the holy places because of the heavy traffic that is witnessed in almost all the routes.

The movements within the holy sites are the most tedious. If a pilgrim lands in Jeddah, he/she has to move to Makkah or Madinah which is by road. From Jeddah to Makkah is about 75km, from Jeddah to Madinah is about 415km and from Madinah to Makkah and vice versa is 454km. Between Haram and the holy site of Mina is 8km, from Haram to Arafah is 22km and from Muzdalifah to Jamarat is five kilometers. Jeddah and Madinah and vice versa can be connected by air but that is mostly for pilgrims with private transport arrangements. Some countries fly the pilgrims direct into Madinah airport, thereby relieving the pilgrims of the six-hour journey by road between the two cities.

This background information is to acquaint the pilgrim that in spite of all the luxuries to enjoy while on Hajj, there are over 1000km-journeys to go on roads. I was fond of trekking the whole distances within the holy sites when I was much younger. I trekked from Makkah to Mina to Arafah to Muzdalifah to Jamarat (Mina) and back to Makkah after the Tashriq days in Mina – three days after Eidul-Adha – i.e. 11th, 12th and 13th of Dhul-Hijjah. That was also over 30 years ago when the pilgrims’ population was less, thus fewer crowds. But my experiences show that Hajj was much easier then. I feel that by then the opportunities to acquaint oneself with other Muslims of the world were more than now. Yet, it is very necessary to commend the Saudi Arabian government for the maximum efforts in making Hajj fit with the modern technology and ecological order.

With the commencement of the 2018 Hajj, it is to be noted that every Hajj activity is a rite. It is my wish to remind the pilgrims who are already on the holy trip of the major activities they should carryout and even Muslims who are at home. The whole first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are great. Allah (SWT) swore by them in Suratul-Fajr. But the best of them all is the Arafah Day which stands out for both the pilgrims and non-pilgrims. Though there is comparison between this great day and the Lailatul-Qadri – the Night of Power – in the last ten days of Ramadan, it is the belief of Muslims that on Arafah Day, Allah forgives every sin of a pilgrim and frees Muslims more than ever. Hajj is Arafah. Therefore, any pilgrim who misses standing on the plains of Arafah on the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah misses Hajj for that year. For the non-pilgrim Muslims, it is recommended to fast the day.

For the pilgrims, irrespective of the type of Hajj (ifrad, qiran or tamattu’), the main Hajj activities are summarily the following: i) taking Ihram cloth on the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah and declaring one’s intention to perform Hajj, ii) Proceeding to Mina where the pilgrim sleeps till the morning of 9th. iii) Proceeding in orderliness and tranquility to the plains of Arafat and staying there till sunset, performing the Zuhr and Asr prayers together, shortened to two rak’at with a Taslim for each prayer. iii) Staying in Muzdalifah from Arafah for Maghrib and Isha’ prayers on the 9th and Fajr prayer of the following day, the 10th – the Eidil-Adha Day. Pick the pebbles for Jamarat. iv) Perform throwing of seven (7) pebbles at Jamarat Aqabah alone in Mina. v) Offer a sacrificial animal. vi) Get your hair cut or shaved. vii) Perform the Tawaf Ifada or delay it till the last day of the stay in Mina. viii) Stay in Mina for two or three days. During the days, cast seven (7) pebbles at each of the three Jamarat, according to the timing given to each country by the Saudi authorities. ix) Perform Tawaful-Wada’ when leaving Makkah back to home, one’s country.

The first ten days of Dhul Hijjah are the most beloved to Allah (SWT). Prophet Muhammad (saw) testified to that. He said: “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” For non-pilgrims, some of the good deeds to do are: i) Fast all nine days and especially fast the Day of Arafah. ii) Do a lot of Dhikr and Takbeer. iii) Perform night prayers – Tahajud. iv) Give charity to the needy. v) Slaughter sacrificial animal on the Edil-Adha Day if you can afford it. v) Make sincere repentance. vi) Recite, teach and learn the Holy Qur’an. vi) Increase all types of good deeds. vii) Attend Eid prayers.

And for the managers and operators of Hajj, they must ensure fulfillment of their obligations towards the pilgrims. The pilgrim is primarily the cause of the manager’s going to the Holy Land. In some cases, the pilgrim pays the manager who accompanies him on the journey. However learned, smart, strong or weak the pilgrim may be, it is the responsibility of the manager to look after him, respond to his needs and guide him throughout the period of Hajj. This is especially with pilgrims who go under the allocations of their countries. Such pilgrims are often referred to as the conventional. Those who go under tour operators need same treatment.

All the activities during Hajj period are time, place and space-bound. If every pilgrim is allowed to carry-out the Hajj activities according to individual wishes, there will always be confusion and problem. This has caused stampede which claimed the lives of pilgrims in the past. Sometimes, it is not the fault of the pilgrims, but technical errors on the part of the managers who may have relapsed on enforcing the accurate measures put in place by the Saudi Arabian government to guard against over-crowing in any given place. That is why there are rules and regulations guiding the Hajj operations and pilgrims. The rules are reviewed every year, according to new discoveries or demands in Hajj. All that the Saudi Arabian government is concerned about is the safety of pilgrims and the comfort they should experience throughout their stay in the Kingdom.

These regulations must be imbibed by the pilgrim. It is the duty of the manager to teach the pilgrim all what is required. The pilgrims must also learn all the Manasik and civic activities in his/her country before the journey. There is no room for learning on the journey because the situation may not allow the time to teach individual pilgrim in the crowd. That is why in some countries, it takes a pilgrim a full year to get acquainted practically to the three main requirements for easy trip on Hajj: the Manasik, the civic knowledge and the Saudi Arabian regulations on every aspect of the Hajj, from the pilgrim’s arrival into the Kingdom till the departure back home. These regulations are handed over to the individual countries during the signing of memorandum of understanding (MoU) for every Hajj or as the communications between the host country and other participating countries continue. The pilgrim, therefore, may not have access to them except through the Hajj managers of his country.

At Haram in Makkah, pilgrims are guided right from the gate so that they will not cause overcrowd in any part of the Holy Ka’abah. Also at the Mas’a, despite the decks, pilgrims are controlled. Whenever any area is crowded, pilgrims are prevented from the area and directed to other areas that can ease performance of the desired Hajj rite. Though the pilgrim may feel denied, it is all for his own safety and the safety of his co-pilgrims who are in large number. Even with the expansion of the bowel of the Haram, the number that can comfortably perform the Tawaf at a time is not more than 105,000 pilgrims. Over three million pilgrims perform Hajj every year. So, it is not possible for three million pilgrims to be within the bowel of Haram even in a day. This is because the Haram can never be vacant for a second so that if pilgrims are counted into the holy place, they can be batched. The population of pilgrims often makes worshippers observe their Jum’at prayers 500 meters away from the Holy Ka’abah.

At Mina, pilgrims are accommodated in tents allocated to every country by the Saudi Arabian Hajj authority known as Muassasah. The tents have luxury facilities, though often not enough because of the entire Mina space. It is believed that Mina can comfortably accommodate on 900,000 pilgrims. But the high demand for Hajj allocation by Muslims of the world has caused the yearly increase in the number of pilgrims. This means that Hajj managers must impress on the pilgrims to be patient. The pilgrims must not also expect all the comforts enjoyed outside this holy sites. It is the same at Arafah, though Arafah is more spacious than Mina. At Muzdalifah, the situation is different. Muzdalifah is an open space without tents and beddings but with enough of other facilities. So, pilgrims are expected to carry travelers’ mats to sleep over.

At Jamarat, pilgrims must abide by the directions and conducts from the Saudi Arabian security personnel who are everywhere to ensure safety of pilgrims. It is not allowed to carry personal effects and it is mandatory to move in groups. Every country is allocated a space of time during which its pilgrims can go and perform the Hajj rite with ease. The Jamarat used to be a difficult place where stampede often occurred in the past. So, the Saudi government has spent heavily in the construction of flyovers and bridges in decks through which pilgrims can throw the pebbles. Hajj managers have a duty to enforce the time-schedules on their pilgrims.

Finally, at Haram in Madinah, pilgrims are also controlled for their safety inside or around the Mosque. While in Madinah, pilgrims visit and salute our noble Prophet Muhammad (SAW) within the Mosque and pray for him. The pilgrims are expected to visit some sites such as Baqi’, Quba’ Mosque, Qiblatain Mosque, the Seven Mosques, other historic Mosques, Mount Uhud, the Martyrs’ graves, amongst others. Though visiting Madinah is actually not part of Hajj, it is recommended to have glimpse and practical knowledge of the Prophet’s Mosque and his city. We pray Allah accepts the Hajj of believers, reward Hajj managers abundantly and continue to guide and protect the Custodian of the Haramain – the two Holy Mosque – in the service of Islam and the Muslims. Ameen.

Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. E-mail

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Statesmanship: Like Jonathan, like Buhari



Jonathan and Buhari

Jonathan and Buhari

By Muhammad Ajah

In 2015, while fanatics of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by Orubebe were busy attempting to disrupt collation of results from states, the person they were fighting for and former President Goodluck Jonathan found it very necessary to ease the political tension by congratulating on phone his victorious opposition candidate. While Jonathan’s men could still not understand the spirit that pushed him to do that, that singular action has endeared him to Nigerian citizens and the international community.

Before the election, Jonathan had reiterated that his political ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian citizen. That was the spirit of true Nigerianism, the spirit of love and humanity. I think this spirit links both contemporary politicians and leaders of Nigeria, Jonathan and Buhari, the latter who has reiterated that he will accept the decisions of Nigerians in the forthcoming 2019 general election, especially the Presidential polls of February 16, 2019.

I personally admire Jonathan for that action. According to him, while receiving the African Sun Times Man of the Year award conferred on him by the international magazine, hehonourably handed over power to Buhari, as a clear indication that election can be conducted without bloodshed in Nigeria. He expressed gratitude to Nigerians, not only his party, for standing by him. This was apparent appreciation to the General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s Peace committee which did a very wonderful job throughout the electioneering period in 2015. “That, to me, is a most worthy testimonial of the character of the Nigerian nation and the resilience of our people”, he averred.

Jonathan never regretted his action. Rather he has been proud of it; boasting of it everywhere he goes and whenever he speaks to people. He believed that Nigeria’s enemies were defeated. “We, the Nigerian people put to shame naysayers and prophets of doom and in 2015, we held a most transparent, violence free and credible elections that transferred power from one political party to another and from an incumbent to the opposition, without rancour, bitterness or strife. In the process, we proved that nobody’s political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian or any national of any country for that matter.”

I hope that Nigerian politicians will imbibe this spirit and eschew the spirit of “do or die” politics. The political situation in 2015 was very tense, indeed. The level of hate speech was unprecedented. But Nigerians were free and associated with their chosen parties and candidates. Observations and reactions from feelers portray that the situation is not tense ahead of 2019 and hate speech is not pervading the air. Nigerians are freely associating with their candidates. The incumbent President Buhari is not showing any sign of desperation, thus the needless call for heating up the politics. I pray that the political situation will remain so and that no Nigerian will be killed or forced to die for the cause of the elections.

Jonathan placed national interest ahead of personal ambition; that is why there was smooth transition. In short, despite his show of statesmanship by accepting defeat, there were speculations that his men would have scuttled the handover processes. He stood his ground as the leader of his party and ensured that Buhari was sworn-in, despite controversies that ensued afterwards. I am sure that the spirit is still with him so that his party will accept the outcome of the next election without rancour. For this, it is hoped that all anti-democratic tendencies of some politicians and the tensions they often generate during elections should be monitored by the security agencies. Those extremist politicians who use political campaigns of terror against Nigeria and her citizens should have a rethink.

Buhari holds Jonathan in high esteem. He has, in many fora, expressed the shock he received when Jonathan called and congratulated him. He said at a dinner organized for members of Kannywood (Hausa-language movie industry) at the State House in Abuja that Jonathan endeared himself to him. “As they were thinking of what to do with the result which they were unable to manipulate because of the card reader and PVC, Jonathan phoned to congratulate me,” he said. “I kept quiet for a while when he called me. He (Jonathan) then asked whether I didn’t hear him, I said I did and I thanked him.”

Jonathan, to me, is a strong pillar of Nigeria’s democracy. He has continued to preach peace and the spirit of sportsmanship in defeat to his party men and Nigerians. One of the instruments for the smooth transition in 2015 was the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by all the presidential candidates. That is being planned but it should be properly executed for 2019 elections. Thanks be to God that the committee has begun its work in earnest. According to its chairman General Abubakar, after a meeting with a delegation from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) led by its Chairman, Mahmoud Yakubu, the MoU will not only be to check violence-free campaigns, but also to avoid hate speeches and unguarded utterances during campaign activities.

This is a good move. But as I have always maintained, Buhari is a trustworthy patriot who always put the nation above self. He will do better. There are assurances that the 2019 general elections will be freer and fairer than ever before. Therefore, with or without signing any pact, he will ensure smooth elections and transition in 2019, hitch-free handovers to democratically elected officers. I join millions of Nigerian patriots to hail him for not accenting to faulty electoral bill. He must remain focused to deliver credible polls in 2019 but he must not be cowed by the selfish interests of anti-democrats who are attempting to create lampoons in the electoral act in the name of amendment. May God bless Nigeria at all times.

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Aisha Buhari

Aisha Buhari

By Yinka Odumakin

Shortly after I started work as General Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman in 2011, Mrs Aisha Buhari approached me to facilitate some media exposure for her. She didn’t need to spend time to convince me that we needed her face and voice out there. I saw her as an intelligent, sharp-witted and gutsy woman who could add a lot of value to the campaign, especially in the South where womanhood in the North is largely perceived as purdah.

I told her I was going to organise a media parley for her and that a cerebral journalist in Lagos had been asking me about the wife of my principal. We agreed on a date. When it was two days to to the appointment, something told me I should clear with my principal what I was about to do. I walked up to him to inform him about the media session for madam. His eyes became red. It was the only time he raised his voice against me: “Don’t ever.” I had to call the journalists to cancel the meet. The genie was kept in the bottle for another four years.
Then came 2015 and the APC experiment. Abimbola Adelakun with her versatile pen wrote a classic in The PUNCH of January 8, 2015, entitled: “Where is Mrs Buhari?” and reference the botched 2011 parley with the General’s wife:

“For a man who preaches “change” and desires to rule a country made up of men and women in almost equal halves, I wonder why he finds the anomaly of an ‘invisible wife’ wholesome.
Interestingly, this is not the first time that Mrs Aisha Buhari would be left behind in her husband’s aspiration.

“In 2003, she was not prominent when he lost to Olusegun Obasanjo’s ‘moonslide.’ Four years later, not much had changed though one could argue that his biggest opponent, Umaru Yar’Adua, did not ‘use’ his wife to campaign either. In 2011, when the presidential election was on, I asked one of Buhari’s closest aides where Mrs Buhari was and why she was practically unseen in her husband’s various campaign efforts.

“My query sprang from his image: If you are being termed an ogre, furnish reasons why you could not be one. His wife standing side-by-side with him would, I told the aide, soften his unimpressible image.
“This Buhari’s aide agreed with me that his wife would be strategically invaluable for his persona. He said she was coming to Lagos at that time and he would arrange press interviews to introduce her to the public.

“The aide called shortly after to say Buhari was not sold to the idea. The aide was apologetic while explaining why Buhari did not want his wife displayed like a ware even in the heat of campaigns. He said Buhari himself could be rather reticent; then, I should consider the religious factor, and that the General was too disciplined for such and several etceteras. I wished him the best and left it at that. By then, Patience Jonathan was criss-crossing the country and canvassing votes for her husband in her peculiar ways. Even though she was being mocked for her lack of sophistication, she was winning some hearts because of her confidence.”

She went on to hazard why Buhari would not want his wife to be seen:
“There are several reasons one can adduce for Buhari and his wife’s photo hide-and-seek. One, the culture of lovey-dovey is simply not him. Like the Igbo proverb that says a man cannot learn to be left-handed in old age, I wager that this is a left-handedness that Buhari has not learnt and is probably a far harder lesson than removing his cap during a church service.
“Two, he probably thinks being seen with a woman will detract from his famed militarist discipline and Spartan image. He has done a lot of bending just to project himself as a non-Islamic fundamentalist pan Nigerian statesman but the woman aspect just does not resonate well with him – yet.
“Third, the religion and culture Buhari has known all his life do gift a second-class citizen status to women.”

The APC strategy room at this point must have convinced him the wife could no longer be in the background. She was allowed to mount the podium in Abeokuta. That was coincidentally strategic. She launched out on the soil that razed Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, the radical woman who first drove a car in the county and led a revolt that made an Alake to flee the throne. It was the place where Funmilayo trained Sawaba Gambo.

In her three and a half years as wife of the president, Mrs Buhari has shown she is in the mould of a Gambo Sawaba. In a sorry season in our land when we don’t have a Gani Fawehinmi, when many of the voices that railed against injustices in years past are either mute or incoherent, Mrs Buhari has somewhat become the conscience of the nation in her interjections on national issues.
For those don’t know, Gambo Sawaba was a fearless woman of the North with whom Aisha shares some traits.

After Gambo lost her parents in 1943, her education stopped and she was forced into an early marriage at 13 but separated from her husband over irreconcilable differences.
Gambo joined politics when she was 17. A branch of NEPU was formed in Sawaba’s Zaria but meetings had to be held in secret for the safety of all involved. Gambo Sawaba joined this party and quickly rose to become the women leader in the branch.

Eventually she would leave Zaria for Abeokuta where she was to meet Funmilayo Kuti. Mrs Kuti had become Gambo’s role model after the latter read about some of the former’s exploits in Abeokuta, especially Funmilayo Kuti’s struggle for the rights of women in tax related matters which culminated in the brief exile of Oba Ladapo Ademola.

When Gambo returned to Zaria, during a political lecture, many of the attendants (most of whom were male) refused to speak out for fear of political victimisation, Gambo climbed unto the rostrum to speak, challenging everyone present. On that same day and a NEPU leader, Alhaji Gambo Sawaba, was to speak at that event, he was so impressed with her that he gave her a nickname, Sawabiya, which means the redeemer. Later on, the name was shortened to the more masculine version, Sawaba. And it stuck. Thus, Hajaratu Amarteifo became Gambo Sawaba.

Gambo made a name for herself when at a political lecture in Zaria, she climbed a podium and spoke out in a room full of men. She campaigned against underage marriages and forced labour. She also advocated for western education in the North.
She also organised several meetings with women who were not allowed to attend political activities because of their gender.

As a result, Gambo was arrested at age 20 alongside 200 other women for not obtaining a permit before the assembly. They were sentenced to one month imprisonment each.
The vibrant woman was sent to jail 16 times in her lifetime and she was often brutalised by the police. Despite low education and coming from the northern part of Nigeria where women are least encouraged and their education neglected, Gambo struggled through all these obstacles to emerge as a dynamic, independent political activist, helping to educate many people.
Her (Hajia Buhari) latest outing was at the national women leadership summit organised by Project 4+4 for Buhari & Osinbajo 2019, a political group.

She spoke against two men who have dominated a government which emerged through the votes of over 15 million people.
“Our votes were 15.4 million in the last elections and after that only for us to be dominated by two people… this is totally unacceptable,” she said.
“If 15.4 million people can bring in a government and only for the government to be dominated by two people or three people, where are the men of Nigeria? Where are the Nigerian men? What are you doing? Instead of them to come together and fight them, they keep visiting them one after the other, licking their shoes (I’m sorry to use those words).”

Quite reminiscent of her interview with BBC Hausa two years ago where she said Buhari’s government had been hijacked by only a “few people.”
Her words: “The president does not know 45 out of 50 of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years… some people are sitting down in their homes folding their arms only for them to be called to come and head an agency or a ministerial position.”
Aisha Buhari asked “Where are the men?” Maybe she should have asked “Where are the APC men?” She needed not ask though as the men she was asking after were no longer men but sissies. The man she called out at the event, Mr Babafemi Ojudu, who was said to have tried stopping her from bursting out, was a fire-eating man in the days of Abacha.

The transformation of yesterday’s men was what made the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, to look at Chief Bisi Akande straight in the face at Senator Abraham Adesanya’s 10th anniversary lecture in Lagos months back and declare “Chief Akande, when we arrived at a point where people like you cannot speak truth to power because of APC card, there is problem in the land.”
Mrs Buhari should make no mistake about what defines a man. It is not the third leg they work with in the “ozer” room. The artificial of that can now be picked on the shelf for a fee. What makes a man is the strength of conviction, the ability to speak the truth, no matter whose ox is gored and raise your voice when sinful silence is convenient. That quality is in short supply in what she erroneously called “men,” especially the ones that populate the ruling party today. In such a situation, Mrs Aisha Buhari is the man standing.

It reminds of this popular Yoruba singer, Odolaye Aremu, who sang about a powerful woman called Amina Abiodun, the Iyalode of Ibadan, who died on Saturday. She was a strong woman who struggled for the same space with Lamidi Adedibu and Arisekola Alao. She once cracked a hard one at an encounter with Chief Adisa Akinloye, Chief Richard Akinjide and Dr Omololu Olunloyo. I will not recount it but the two living will remember it.

Odolaye got to a point and said what was under Amina was masculine. Some women are men! And in a land where men are no longer men, some women will always be men.
If the maiden of Arewa now resolves to remain in purdah despite Aisha Buhari, it’s a sad story.

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Nigerian Military And The Act Of Victory



Gen. Gabriel Abayomi Olonisakin

Gen. Gabriel Abayomi Olonisakin

By Richards Murphy

Sun Tzu, the Chinese war veteran, strategist and tactician of world repute, throbs military leaders with this enriching warfare philosophy. Its catchy phrase prescribes thus; “What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.”

I know some Nigerians would be surprised at what prodded me to begin the exploration of this piece with this enthralling wisdom of Gen. Sun Tzu. It’s because Sun Tzu remains the most coveted encyclopedia of war shrewdness ever exposed to mankind.

Tzu was somewhat magical, if not prodigiously extraordinary in thoughts and actions. No frustrations or setback of the enemy ever dissolved his resolve and determination to win. It is the innate inclination of a soldier.

Of course, many of us have read the military exploits and adventures of this great Chinese military celeb. All over the world, craggy military officers, who aim at victories in battles, imbibe his wisdom and style in combats. They are inspired by his combat wits, tenacity and valor. They strive to emulate him.

And for three years and more, Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Gabriel Abayomi Olonisakin knows, he is not just the super engine room of President Muhammadu Buhari’s counter-terrorism war in the country. But the march to terminate the reign of Boko Haram terrorism is an assignment, which must be won and splendidly.

His mien all the times, tells me, the CDS cum military strategist is less concerned by setbacks in the counter-insurgency operations. But he is a thousand times concerned with extracting the victory from terrorists, at the cost of anything.
It is indubitable that anywhere wars are fought; there are countless entrapping impediments and challenges, which can cancel even an already won victory. But careful deployment of uncommon wisdom and the utilization of every resource at your disposal earn you the victories.

And I believe, there is no military rendezvous in warfare, which victory comes easy and smooth. Despite Sun Tzu’s versatility in warfare and acclaimed expertise, not all his victories came on platter gold. To be candid to myself, I have a passion for this warrior. What he never consented was a weakened spirit at the battlefront.

At all times and in all circumstances, he was confident victory would descend at dawn undeniably and kept cracking the hardest of nuts. And truly, he got the results in his favour.

But in the course of the usually stiff struggles peculiar to the trenches, I don’t want to believe there were no depressing moments’ or the unexpected never happened, such as troops vehicle accident or death on the warfront. But Tzu’s sheer determination and the courage to succeed kept the candle burning to a victorious end.

I see a facsimile of this resilience in Gen. Olonisakin. When any of his troops is mowed down in battle by enemy forces, it gives him sleepless nights. But it has never enfeebled his determination to the point of surrendering to the enemies of his troops and the nation. Instead, it spurs more grandeur planning and deafening confrontations of the enemies more vehemently.

Throughout the time, I keenly observed the actions and dispositions of the CDS in the engagement of Boko Haram insurgents; no challenge or setback in the prosecution of the war has slackened his pace and focus even for a minute. This is reason the Nigerian military has sustained the winning streaks against terrorists. Insurgents attacks on military formations has now bubbled by a personal revenge in the hearts of troops.

That’s the lesson taught troops by the archetypal Gen. Olonisakin. As a true and inveterate Military General, coordinating and leading counter-terrorism operations in Nigeria deemed one of the world’s most difficult wars has been his passion to end a glorious career.

The CDS has conditioned the minds of his troops to have their eyes fixated on victory; and only victory, at all times, regardless of any obstacle. The CDS knows the whiff of victory is what keeps an Army or a troop going in a battle.

I am glad they have not deviated from this path of glory. And troops have lived it and appear even better at their most tormenting moments; which outsiders like me fear a possible retreat. This is the victorious side of our military, unknown to many of us.

I have observed consistently that whenever Boko Haram terrorists roar against our troops, with such gusto, reenacting their triumphant past, the insurgents deployed for the missions hardly escape unscathed.

We may not know. But many of us have not heard the voice and braggadocio of Boko Haram factional leader, Abubakar Shekau for a long time now. The last time I heard about him was six or so, months ago, when he led his rebellious sect members in tempting Nigerian troops.

The insurgents were not only munched en mass by Nigerian troops, but their Kingpin, Shekau quite possibly escaped with severe injuries. Some reports claim, Shekau has hoed himself in the Cameroonian caves and mountains recuperating. It’s possible he must have died in the course of treatment.

The only factional Boko Haram leader still flexing feeble might is the Musab Al Barnewi faction. But I am sure, fragrance of his day of reckoning have polluted everywhere in the Northeast. I know his waterloo is also near.

And it is one conviction, which has persistently obsessed Gen. Olonisakin. He knows he can do it; the troops are confident that Al Barnewi cannot escape their swords, no matter the hardness of the bulwark he erects around himself.

With ground and air troops at his effective command and control, the CDS is pretty sure, the enemies have; but little chances of survival. Only time is the dividing factor, which he also knows would soon decide in the favor of Nigerian troops and Nigerians. The CDS like the veteran Tzu is aware, “What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations.”

Like Sun Tzu, the CDS knows too perfectly that; “When torrential water tosses boulders, it is because of its momentum. When the strike of a hawk breaks the body of its prey, it is because of timing.”

I appeal to Nigerians to look beyond the outward when assessing our military. We are bound to see the treasures embedded in them which are envied by the world. We must be proud of our possession and our military assets in these troops.

The military gentleman and unstinting professional officer, Gen. Olonishakin is eager to handover to Nigerians the crown and medal victory over Boko Haram terrorism. I read his lips and feel the yearning of a leader who wishes to accomplish this feat as his parting gift to Nigerians before his retirement.

Gen. Olonisakin knows he has an edge over the terrorists, by leading three arms of the Nigerian military. But the insurgents can only dream of repressing or even defeating the Nigerian military.

It’s clear to me, coordinating the security operations across the country, the CDS adheres to Tzu’s caution that “Management of many is the same as management of few. It is a matter of organization.” We shall keep praying for their success fervently.

Murphy is a security consultant based in Calabar.

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