…As Military stops admission of combatant female cadets***
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has described ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo as the boss of bosses in the Nigerian political space.
Jonathan said any “politician who ignores Obasanjo does so at its own peril,” advising ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar to find a way of courting his former boss, if he (Atiku) must realise his presidential ambition.
He maintained that it would be impossible for Atiku to realise his presidential ambition on the platform of the All Progressives Congress.
According to Jonathan, Atiku’s chances of becoming President in 2019 would be bright if he contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party.
He, however, stressed that Atiku must do everything to get Obasanjo’s endorsement, who, he said, had the magic wand and remained respected home and abroad.
Jonathan was quoted as saying this in an interview he recently granted the Ovation Magazine, published by Dele Momodu.
“He (Atiku) can’t get the APC ticket. If Atiku gets our party (PDP) ticket, he would compete well,” Jonathan reportedly said.
“He’s always a passionate politician. But he would have to reach out to our boss, Baba OBJ, the boss of all bosses.
“We’ve all learnt at different times that you ignore OBJ at your own peril. OBJ has the magic wand, respected at home and abroad,” Jonathan said.
Atiku, who served as Vice-President during Obasanjo’s eight years administration, fell out with his former boss towards the end of the administration.
The rift was believed to have stemmed from Atiku’s antagonism to Obasanjo’s alleged third-term bid.
Atiku had recently said given the chance to lead the country, he would fight corruption even better than President Muhammadu Buhari, who enjoys public opinion as a man of integrity and hater of corruption.
Atiku lashed out at those he said were regurgitating corruption allegations against him, without bringing any proof forward.
He said, “It is sickening to continue to regurgitate allegations of corruption against me by people who have failed to come forward with a single shred of evidence of my misconduct while in office.
“Despite previous desperate efforts to link me with corruption, the William Jefferson trial in the United States ended in 2009 without indicting me or linking me to corrupt activities,” Atiku added.
In the meantime, in a major policy reversal, the Nigerian military is set to end the admission of female cadets into the combatant course of the Nigerian Defence Academy, The PUNCH has learnt.
A set of 20 females, nicknamed Jonathan Queens, were first admitted into the course in Nigeria’s premier military officer training institution during the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in 2011.
It was learnt that the recommendation to end the programme was made by the Armed Forces Council which was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari last week.
Buhari had also last week ratified the National Defence Policy 2017 (Revised); Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service Officers 2017.
Recommendation 19 of the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of the Armed Forces of Nigeria was sighted by one of our correspondents on Sunday.
It read, “Phase out the training of female regular combatant cadets.”
A serving general in the Nigerian Army told our correspondent that the military took the decision due to complaints from some unnamed northern Muslim leaders.
The general, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the issue, explained that there were various types of commissions in the Armed Forces namely: Regular Combatant Commission, Short Service Combatant Commission, Direct Regular Commission, Direct Short Service and Executive Commission.
He said, “It is only the Regular Combatant Commission that can give an officer the opportunity to aspire to head any of the services or rise to become the Chief of Defence Staff, while the others have limited career path. If the military is able to scrap this programme, women will never be able to head any of the arms of the Nigerian military.
“The northern Muslim leaders want to prevent a situation where one day, a woman will lead the army and give orders to men.”
Incidentally, it was reported in 2013 that of the first 20 female cadets, only one Muslim, Fatimah Saleh, enlisted. She had also stated that her “Arabic school teacher” had advised her against joining the army.
The general said those pushing for the scrapping of the programme had convince the President that women were not doing well in the programme.
He said, “When we started the training of female cadets in 2011, we never thought it would be successful. When the first set of women cadets graduated from the academy last year, women won three awards, including the best award in the navy category.
“A female cadet, C. Lord-Mallam, won the Navy Gold award which is the highest in the navy category. The Army Silver award, which is the second highest in the army, went to a female cadet, K. O Dayo-Karim. The Air Force Silver award was also won by a female cadet, O. S Ijelu.
“However, some northern conservatives were not happy about it because most of the female cadets are either Christians from the South and northern minority groups or Muslims from the South and Middle Belt.
“Dissatisfied with how things are turning out, the northern Muslim leaders lobbied the military authorities to stop the programme for women.”
The general described the recommendation as an attempt to reverse the gains of the past, adding that it was a setback in the push for gender equality.
He revealed that many of the female cadets were outperforming their male colleagues, adding that their achievements were being suppressed by the military hierarchy.
The general said, “I was informed that the women were trained just like the men were trained. They were not given any preferential treatment. Two of these female cadets beat their male counterparts to win placement at the United States Military Academy in West Point and they are doing well.
“It is unfortunate that while the western world and even other African nations are progressing, Nigeria is going backwards.”
In 2010, the then President, Goodluck Jonathan, had ordered the military to allow females interested in becoming combatant officers of the Nigerian armed forces to be admitted into the NDA for the first time ever.
The then Minister of Defence, Adetokunbo Kayode, had said other countries in Africa were “already doing it and they are not better than us.”
He had said, “Presently, we have female armoured tank drivers, female Para-troopers, jumpers, and so on. We want to have strong, virile armed forces devoid of discrimination.”
Expatiating on the new directive, the minister had said, “As you are all aware, the Nigerian Armed forces have always had opening for female officers. However, these have always been limited to non- combat duties, thereby limiting their career path irrespective of their competence or skill.