President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, that the last 12 years have been challenging for Nigeria considering the amount of security threats the country has witnessed under the period.
He spoke at the graduation ceremony of 247 students of the Senior Course 44 of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna State where he celebrated the sacrifices and successes of the Nigerian military in courageously defending the country.
Appraising the ongoing collaboration of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger Republic, Benin Republic and Chad in a multinational operation to combat the Boko Haram Insurgency in the Lake Chad region, the President said it has been productive, commendable and successful.
He said: “The synergy achieved in operating together must have been enhanced by an understanding of the doctrines of the cooperating forces.
‘‘This occasion provides me another opportunity to briefly reflect on the state of the Nigerian nation, particularly regarding national security. The last 12 years have been very challenging for our nation, considering the different security threats that have besieged the country.
‘‘Our government is poised to promote national security and development, as well as to remain committed to promoting a vision of a secure, safe, just, peaceful, prosperous and strong Nigeria.
‘‘We shall be employing all elements of our national power in ensuring security, a just society, peaceful coexistence, national unity and sustainable development while promoting our good standing internationally.’’
The President pledged that his government would continue to provide the needed support required to wipe out terrorists and insurgents ‘‘off the face of the earth.’’
He stated: ‘‘The Armed Forces of Nigeria are working tirelessly to enhance their combat effectiveness, operational capability and training necessary to eliminate the threats, in synergy with other institutions and nations.
‘‘The response of the Armed Forces of Nigeria to the Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, militancy, kidnapping as well as the activities of separatists and armed militias amongst others have been commendable.
‘‘This government will continue to provide the required guidance and support to ensure that the desired results are achieved.”
The President noted that most of the security challenges facing the world today were both asymmetric and trans-border in nature, involving mainly non-state actors in different regions and sub-regions of the world.
He added that the West African sub-region and indeed our beloved continent of Africa are not immune to these threats, adding: ‘‘We have witnessed recent terrorist attacks in Nigeria bearing the hallmark of national and trans-border insurgents trying to cause havoc in Nigeria as well as in neighbouring countries.
‘‘It will be part of your duty to confront these terrorists and insurgents and wipe them off the face of the earth and bring peace to our countries,’’ the President told the graduating students.
President Buhari described the specifics of their training which focused primarily on countering security threats as very important, adding that ‘‘combating these prevalent security threats effectively demands that African countries continue to work together at all levels; be it tactical, operational and strategic.’’
Buhari expressed delight that amongst the graduating students were international officers from sister African countries, saying he is confident they enjoyed the friendliness of the country during their stay.
Describing Nigeria as still one of the most hospitable and enjoyable countries to visit and stay, despite her diversity and challenges, the President enjoined the Course 44 fellows to keep fond memories of the over 40-year college, which prepares officers for tactical and operational level leadership, focusing on national security, joint planning processes, inter-agency cooperation and operations as well as multinational integration.
Further, he told the graduating students that their participation in the Course was a further testimony of national security aspirations to promote international peace, friendship and cooperation.
‘‘To the graduating students from Nigeria’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies, you have indeed justified the confidence reposed in you by your respective organizations. Congratulations!
‘‘We must specially commend the spouses of the graduands here for keeping the home front and without whose sacrifices there would have been no celebrations for many here today,’’ he said.
President Buhari also commended the Commandant and his team for transforming the graduating students into highly refined products and for the ongoing work to expand and upgrade the facilities of the College. This is to provide a conducive and amenable environment that is fit for purpose.
‘‘Your efforts are maintaining the status of the College as a mid-level military training institution of repute. I therefore commend the College Board as well as the Commandant and staff for these remarkable achievements.
‘‘This government will continue to support the College in its developmental strides. My administration will also continue to give priority to the training and welfare of officers and men of our Armed Forces.
‘‘You, the graduating students, should realize that the nation has made a lot of investment in your training up to this stage of your respective careers.
‘‘I am confident that you have been sufficiently groomed in character and learning to take up the challenges you will be confronted with hereafter.
‘‘For the Nigerian graduating students amongst you, the graduation today is a clarion call to duty in service to our country. Nigeria expects the very best from you in terms of loyalty, commitment to duty and service to your fatherland.
‘‘Therefore, you must endeavour to make honest and positive contributions in the discharge of the constitutional responsibilities of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, your strategic Ministries, Department and Agencies and be good ambassadors of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College,’’ the President said.
In his address of welcome, the Commandant of the College, Air Vice Marshall (AVM) Olurotimi Tuwase, explained that 111 army officers, 69 naval officers, 42 air force officers, 10 students from paramilitary organisations and Ministries, Department and Agencies as well as 15 international students completed the 48 weeks intensive training, leading to the award of Pass Staff Course (PSC).
AVM Tuwase added that the international students on the Senior Course 44 were from Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Chad, The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia.
The Commandant thanked the President for his unflinching support to the College, noting that students from the prestigious school have been sufficiently trained and equipped to cope with most challenges in their career, with the staff and leadership skills acquired in the College.
‘‘The College has laid a solid professional foundation for you to make informed decisions,’’ he said.
At the event, President Buhari presented PSC certificates and awards to select graduands as well as the best graduating students.
A statement issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity) informed that Major Sunday Olayinka Atomode, bagged three awards namely Minister of Defence Award for highest overall score, Chief of Defence Staff Award for the Department of Joint Studies and Chief of Army Staff Award for Department of Land Warfare.
Lt.-Cdr. Godwin Emeka Okutue won the Chief of Naval Staff Award for Department of Marine Warfare, Squadron Leader Peter Chika Echeazu bagged the Chief of Air Staff Award for Department of Air Warfare while the Commandant’s Award for best non-military student was awarded to CDIO AM Ajiamah, and Major Errol Donkoh from Ghana for best international student.