Understanding General Dambazau At 62
''Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.'' --Mahatma Gandhi
I will start this piece by ingeminating the story of a young man who wanted to travel to the city, but needed to have the foreknowledge of what life is all about. In his curiosity, he went to his mentor and asked: ''O mentor, what is life all about?'' His mentor looked at him and answered: ''Young man, life is like a mountain.'' In his perplexity, the young man left for the city. Many years later, he returned to his mentor so that he could tell him the meaning of that elusive comparism. After much pleading, his mentor decided to open up by explaining to him what he meant by saying life is like a mountain.
He stated: ''Life is an adventure which you must dare. Life is a challenge which you must meet. Life is a sorrow which you must overcome. Life is a duty which you must perform. Life is a struggle which you must grow from it. Life is a mystery which you must unfold. Life is a journey which you must complete. Life is a game which you must play. Life is a gift which you must appreciate. Life is a goal which you must achieve. Life is a puzzle which you must solve. Life is an opportunity which you must utilize. Life is a song which you must sing and finally, life is a promise which you must fulfill.
It was William Barclay that once said: ''There are two great days in a person's life- the day we are born and the day we discovered why.'' It is on this note that I humbly introduce the chief celebrant, retired Lieutenant General Abdurahman Bellow Dambazau CFR; a man who successfully completed the first chapter of his journey and has started a new page in total obedience to the will of God Almighty.
Born on March 14, 1954, General Dambazau rose through the rank and file of the Nigerian Army where he served as Chief of Army Staff and retired in 2010. Upon retirement, he started a new life in the academic world, but because life is sometimes what happens to us while we are busy making other plans, today, General Dambazau is Nigeria's Minister of Interior!
Sworn-in as Interior Minister on November 11, 2015, by President Muhammadu Buhari, General Dambazau immediately rolled up his sleeves to effectively meet the challenges governance has put on his shoulders. And in less than six months, there are records on ground to justify the change mantra of the Buhari Administration. For Instance, the Interior Ministry entered in to the biggest partnership between it and the Lagos State Government which led to the procurement and launching of internal security hardware worth N4.8 billion. The Ministry this year organized the largest counter-terrorism training for officials and members of the Nigerian Police Force. The Minister has changed the orientation of the Nigerian Police from one that is rights violator to one that is a respecter of human rights of the citizens in the course of carrying out their duties.
Also, within these short periods, the Minister professionalized the operations of the Federal Fire Service (FFS). It can be noted that before now, the duties of the service are been performed by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), while the FFS which has the fire mandate is left redundant. He has also ordered strict adherence to the nation’s National Fire Code in public and private buildings so as to mitigate the incessant fire outbreaks in the country. In the same vein, the Minister has personally visited some sites like Nnewi in Anambra State which recently experienced fire outbreak to commiserate with victims of the inferno and assured them of Federal Government's support and plans to prevent future occurrence.
The Minister has also instilled discipline in the activities of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). Under the new rule, any member of the corps that misuse or abused the fire arms allotted to him or her while on duty would be severely dealt with according to the new directive. To complement the efforts of the Buhari Administration in economic diversification, the Minister recently authorized the deployment of 5, 000 officials of the NSCDC to various mining sites in the country. They are known as the Solid Minerals Defenders Armed Squad and their mandate is to curb illegal mining activities that often lead to inhuman treatments and environmental degradation across the federation.
Similarly, the Minister also ordered the deployment of another 5, 000 NSCDC officials to the North East to equilibrate the efforts of the army by winning the peace in the region because according to him, ''Winning the war against terrorism is important as winning the peace after the war is over.'' In lieu of this, the representatives of the various foreign governments in the country have pledged to support Nigeria in its bid to return civil life and authority to the North East.
Within these few periods, the Minister also ordered the reopening of the moribund farm centers managed and operated by the Nigerian Prison Service (NPS). Also, in collaboration with the British Minister of Justice, Jeremy Wright, General AB Dambazau has finalized the process of mutual exchange of prisoners between Nigeria and the United Kingdom so that thousands of Nigerians languishing in foreign prisons could be repatriated home to complete their jail terms.
The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has equally been strengthened to effectively secure our border posts as well as stop the entrance of illegal migrants as well as small and light weapons in to the country. This can be seen in the deployment of advanced Information and Communication Technology tools to the most porous borders posts in the country. Similar advanced technologies are up and running at the Illela border post in Sokoto State as well as the NIS headquarters as pilot project.
Nonetheless, just as the former United States President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt once stated: ''The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man or party or nation. It must be a peace which rests on the collaborative efforts of the whole world.'' Hence, in line with the above aphorism, the Minister while in Cameroon entered in to a tripartite agreement between Nigeria, Cameroon and the United Nations Commissions on Human Rights and Maritime Piracy to develop multilateral strategies for collaborative actions, information sharing and improved border security to check the inflows of small arms and light weapons, drugs, illegal migration, human trafficking and movement of terrorist groups across borders.
The Minister has also set machinery in motion for the relocation of over 60, 000 Nigerian refugees in Cameroon. For Example, while at the Minawao and Maruoa refugee camps in Cameroon, the Minister on behalf of the Federal Government donated food and other valuable items to Nigerians in those camps.
As part of the multinational strategy against insurgency and other internal security challenges faced by the nation, the Minister in a follow up to earlier visits by President Muhammadu Buhari to member countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission recently signed another agreement with the Government of Benin Republic on regional security collaboration especially in the areas of tackling cross border crimes, cyber attacks, terrorism and trafficking of arms, drugs and humans.
Another offshoot of the three-day visits by the Minister to Benin Republic was the mutual agreement between the two nations to setting up a standing committee which will involve government, community leaders of boundary communities to resolving conflicts whenever there erupt. Others include; reactivation of the mixed joint border patrol and intensifying multinational collaboration on information and intelligence sharing as well as sensitizing citizens of both nations on the need to travel with valid documents while at the same time ensuring that pastoralists travelling across borders do not carry arms and other dangerous weapons which are contrary to ECOWAS principles and objectives.
In the periods under review, the Minister introduced so many far reaching policies and reforms which if well supported by all stakeholders will not only make Nigeria a safe haven for investments but will also make the country one of the safest places to live on planet earth.
Finally, I want to end with a quote from Jarrod Kintz for the Minister when he said: ''The year you were born only mark your entry in to the world, other years where you prove your worth are the ones worth celebrating.'' It is on this latitude that I humbly say ''Happy birthday'' to a retired General but not tired Public Servant.
Comrade Edwin Uhara is a Journalist and Public Affairs Commentator.....He writes from Enugu