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WANTED: A MILITARY SCHOOL IN SOUTH-EAST

By NBF News

It is indeed gratifying to observe the importance and benefits of democracy in our society. In fact I opine that we owe immense gratitude to those who propounded the principles of democracy and insisted that the latter should be practised in preference to totalitarianism, fascism, oligarchy and all other obnoxious system of governments associated with extreme exercise of brute force.

Nigerian before May 29, 1999 was for many years (except the tokenistic 4 year administration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari) under the firm grip of the juntas who relished in sadistic, flagrant abuse and degradation of harmless and often innocent citizens without qualms.

I am, however, not oblivious of equally persuasive contention that we are yet to fully explore the democratic credos as once canvassed by Dr. Chudi Nwike, a former Deputy Governor of Anambra State, what we have today according to the Medical Doctor turned Politician 'is a civilian administration'. One can also argue forcefully that violence and degrading treatment that pervaded during the dark ages of the nation's political era are still immanent today like the case of brutalization of Ms Uzoma Okere by the military at Lagos, the killing of Okada Driver by a Navy and numerous cases of extra judicial killings of innocent citizens by the police, the difference between the two situations is that in democracy one could at least get justice notwithstanding the prohibitive cost and delay.

Today, an aggrieved victim of such brutality could fight for justice and the judge delivers same without fear. Ms. Okere for example has got damages of about 100 million naira in her favour. Now compare the same situation with the murder of Dele Giwa or the decapitation of Gideon Akaluka and the parading of his head hung on a pole before the watchful eyes of the security people. Justice has eluded the victims mentioned above.

The military no doubt in apparent appreciation of the fact that the music of brutality has indeed changed tune and has decided to adjust with the dynamic of life and also changed the dance steps probably as a fallout of the globally condemned and unconscionable ill treatment of Ms. Okere. The military recently therefore organized a conference at Owerri as part of the conscious effort to promote and improve on the cordiality and amity between the soldiers and the civilians.

One of the participants at the occasion in his own contribution called on the military authorities to establish a military school in the South Eastern part of Nigeria. I read the media account of his contribution and I commended this anonymous contributor as an agent of equity and fairness. A cursory enquiry from a friend, a retired but not tired Colonel revealed that some of the military schools and their locations are as follows

•Ã'igeria Defence Academy - Zaria Kaduna State.

•National Defence College (Formerly National War College) Abuja.

• School Of Artillery - Kotongora - Niger State

• School Of Armour - Bauchi
• School Of Infantry - Jaji Kaduna State
•Armed Forces Command & Staff College Jaji Kaduna

•Depot Of Nigerian Army (The Home For Training & Infantry) - Zaria Kaduna

•Air Force Training School - Zaria Kaduna State.

The list is inexhaustible. The bottom line is that none of these schools is located in the South East.

There is need at this juncture to pause and refer to the historical background of this country. This nation was governed during the colonial era as Northern and Southern Protectorates and has separate administrators. In 1914, Lord Lugard amalgamated the two protectorates and named it Nigeria. When the nation gained

independence in 1960, Nigeria was balkanized into three divisive and competing regions namely Eastern Region, Northern Region and Western Region. Today, the country is further divided even though unofficially into six geo political zones.

The question, therefore, that will agitate any discerning mind replete with sense of justice, equity and fairness is why a particular geo political zone has monopolized all the schools for our military formations.

I recall that during the regime of the dark goggled dictator, the Late General Sanni Abacha, our brothers in the North complained about the sole location of Nigerian Law School in Lagos and called for its decentralization.

This was quickly acceded to and a Law School was established in Abuja. Today, in the spirit of decentralization, equity and fairness, there are other Law Schools at Enugu, Kano, Lagos and Abuja which remains the Headquarters. There is also unconfirmed report of the plan to establish another Law School at Bayelsa State.

The decentralisation of the Law School has improved the admission of Law students from the North which hitherto was at abysmal level. It is therefore my position that the decentralization or location of the military schools in the South East and other geo political zones where none exists will improve the cordial relationship between the military and the zone as it will ensure improved admission of their sons and daughters into the school and guarantee sense of belonging.

It is unfortunate that since the end of the civil war and the consequent decimation of many officers from the South East, some military men serving in the South East still live in the illusion of the war, senseless dissipation of arrogance and conquest thereby engendering mutual suspicion between the military and the people. The time to correct this anomaly is now.

Mr Anyadubalu, a lawyer and columnist writes from Lagos.