Sir, I sincerely congratulate the president-elect on your electoral victory on 25th February and your inauguration holding tomorrow as the 16th President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

As you have declared that competence and character would determine who will make it to your cabinet, and in line with your declaration to put together a government of national unity, it goes without saying you need all stakeholders in this country to proffer solution to the problems of national development. It is on this basis, I put forward this write-up. It is not about sentiment or ethnicity nor a proposal for consideration, it is only a personal piece of advice, one that is relevant and useful for your new government.

So much has come to the fore over the insecurity in the country and many Nigerians have condemned President Muhammadu Buhari over the efforts, he was putting in to proffer solution to it. One accusation over the other were being churned out on a daily basis, condemning the Ministry of Defence and Presidency.

Addressing insecurity is a complex issue that requires a comprehensive and sustained effort from the government. However, some concrete steps that could be taken to advance the government’s fight against Boko Haram and ISWAP, insurgency in the North-East, the banditry in the North-East and the North-Central states and kidnapping across the country as well as the IPOB in the Southeast, the notorious oil bunkers and the oil pipeline breakers in the South-South are competent Minister of Defence and massive investment in education and skills training. 

The government should invest in education and skills training programmes that equip the less privileged individuals with the skills they need to find employment and contribute to the economy. A competent Minister of Defence is also critical for reducing or even eliminating this menace in the country. In this regard, I would suggest Brigadier-General Lawal Jafaru Isa (Rtd) or Brigadier-General Muhammed Buba Marwa retired. These retired generals have in the past combined their military experience and intellectual capability to quench series of civil unrest as military governors or administrators. These two generals by their attributes, sheer courage and commitment to a just cause, have shown what they are worth. They have excelled in various responsibilities when it comes to bringing results and succour to the people. They are fearless on issues that touch on the destiny of Nigeria and Nigerians. Majority view them as men of action. The experience and intellectual prowess of these two generals qualifies them for the job in question. They are principled personalities needed to be deployed to and fully supported in handling the Ministry of Defence in this country. Their ability in the past to curtail series of civil unrest creditably well has proven that they are more capable in stewarding the affairs of the Defence ministry. The leadership acumen and experience of these two generals were robust enough in giving General Sani Abacha’s government a kind of boost it needed at that time.

Lagosians cannot forget in a hurry the era of General Marwa in Lagos State from August, 1996 to May, 1999. He was a dogged fighter. It was during his time that Lagosians could sleep with their two eyes closed. He curbed insecurity and stemmed the rising tide of violence and the activities of cultists in Lagos State University. His exemplary leadership earned him “Nigerian’s Man of the Year 1997” by Newswatch, Nigeria’s oldest and influential weekly magazine.

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As the current Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), General Marwa is fighting with vigour the illicit drug traffickers from all sides.

Nigerians can vividly remember the popular newspaper headlines at the time of General Lawal Jafaru Isa as military administrator. Some of the headlines read; “Fuel Miracle in Kaduna State”, “Bravo, Col. Lawal Isa”, “Military Officers Cheer Col. Isa for Improving their Image”, “Administrator of the Year”, “People’s Administrator”, “Col. Isa, the toast of the masses”, “Action Administrator” and a host of other affectionate epithets by the people nationwide. General Isa once said, “you do not fight ideas with weapons, you fight ideas with ideas…” He made this statement in an interview with Tell Magazine in 1996 when he was asked on how to deal with Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky. General Isa was Kaduna State military administrator from December 1993 to September, 1996. It was during his time that Kaduna was at its most volatile because of Zango Kataf riot in1992. His quick interventions and good leadership instincts ensured that the crisis did not escalate. One Ifeanyi Nwolisa wrote this about him: “I remembered meeting the Col. Isa as a boy’s brigade then in St. Michael’s Anglican Church. Col. Isa though a Muslim did not have a problem participating as a special guest of honour. That was good judgement because the move ensured that Christians began to trust him and had good faith in the government to defend all the citizens irrespective of religious background. The good intention of Col. Isa in unifying all residents in the state created a model for subsequent governors to follow, which is to act with urgency in any occurrence of even the slightest of crisis.”

For these reasons, a more appropriate place where these two generals armory of talents will be more beneficial to the country and the people in general is the Ministry of Defence. With any of these two retired generals at the helm of Defence ministry, a lot of pressure would be taken off the shoulders of the President-Elect.

As you are eager to turn things around quickly for the good of the country, you definitely need the services of these two generals, who are committed to the progress and development of the country. Nigerians hope and believe that in six months of your administration, they will be happy that they voted for the broom party because of the immediate impact of these generals in your cabinets.

• Tajudeen Omotunde writes via email: [email protected]