Pride of the nation

Written by   on   Jan 25, 2017 / 55 Comments

Times without number, I dreamt of it; I saw myself commanding troops. I practiced the command, following the manner in which previous heads of state usually gave their January 1st and October 1st speeches. I also played grownup army with my mum’s old National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) uniform [yes, she kept it as a memoir]. “I want to join the army”, I blurted out one day but my parents would never hear of it.


As though it were by sheer providence, I was posted to the divisional headquarters of the Nigerian army in Jos, Plateau state for my NYSC. I interpreted it as God’s unseen hand steering me to my place of destiny. I interacted with military personnel from all cadres, an experience I still cherish. I approached my mum again. This time I was willing to compromise, to bargain for what I really wanted. If not the army, I would enroll into the Navy to assuage her fears of being deployed to the North East but she remained resolute in her resolve and I finally let it go.


You see, for all my life, I have always loved and respected the entire military/defense. However, a recent occurrence threatened my age long romance. I travelled from the oil rich Port Harcourt to Awka over the weekend for a funeral. As we traversed, we met checkpoints at every 100m. An infuriating experience indeed! The checkpoints had a mix of Police and the Army an intercalation of some sort.
While the policemen would quickly carry out their routine checks and off we went, the soldiers with their stern faces and more sophisticated ammo will bark, “Clear well!” With the tenacity in their voices, one would assume they just got intelligence report that bombs were being transported with the urgent need to intercept it.


After passing about four check points, the pattern became clear. The driver would clear off the road as commanded, kneel and beg them. The soldiers would look away, pretending to be oblivious of their presence. Being terrified of the men, the driver would squeeze out 100 naira and give them. The fear of soldiers they say is the beginning of wisdom. The thought of being made to frog jump, lie in the gutter or being battered duly guided the driver. I watched repeatedly at this sad exchange. I reflected on how the Nigerian Army had for years been regarded as the Pride of the Nation. She was the last institution to remain untainted and a symbol of discipline.


I stared in the faces of these ‘new’ military men on the roads, searching for remorse, patriotism or whatever I could grapple with my hands, but blank faces stared back at me. Unflinching, they flagged down vehicles; boldly demanding money.
This experience threatened to shatter whatever fragile hope I had in Nigeria as an institution. The questions that (I) beg to be answered are: “where did we get it wrong? Could it be from the brevity of the training of these soldiers at Depot [six months, I hear it is]? Or, could it be from (a fault in) our Federal Character [the practice of insisting that certain number of people must be enrolled from certain geopolitical zones]?” Further probing may perhaps, reveal the level of indiscipline and corruption among the military instructors; an allegation I hope remains one. For how can the blind lead the blind? I do not want to believe that these military personnel are not well motivated. Even if that were to be the case, where is the morality of contentment and patriotism? Have the words ‘selfless’, ‘loyal’, ‘determined’ and ‘disciplined’ been deleted from the military training vocabulary?


I would love to see an army where honour, sacrifice and discipline will be celebrated once again. Not one where men of the officers’ cadre send soldiers out to extort from those they have sworn to protect- an army that will persevere as men of valour, not a corrupt one. I want the army I fell in love with; the one which is the pride of the nation.

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Comments (55)

Jul 30, 2017

n

This is a beautiful article written with uncommon lucidity and brilliance. The Nigerian army has served humanity with admirable devotion and dedication in peace keeping operations across the globe as a disciplined force. We hope that the army can and should replicate that in their service within Nigeria. 'Bad eggs' in their midst should be shown the way out. Well done Chizy.

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Mar 01, 2017

Eze Joshua. C

Corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of all sectors & institutions in Nigeria. I don't how we can start fighting this menace in our country. I believe we can reduce it and not completely eradicate it. Good write-up...

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Feb 15, 2017

Chinedu Francis

I love America because they respect the rules of law. A place were a common man can sue even the president to court and still win the case. But for the Nigerian Army,they seems to be above the law and they are so much feared rather than being respected!

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Feb 16, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

To be fair on the NA, they called after this article was published and promised to address it ASAP.


Feb 14, 2017

kevin Ezeoke

This is a brilliant exposition Keep it up dear Nigerian army is a sad story Too many motley of cases in court for their flagrant violations of fundamental rights of the citizenry.Bravo my dear chizzy for mirroring these institutional ills perpetrated by these military men in a clear and understandable manner

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Feb 16, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

Thank you Kevin


Feb 06, 2017

Esther

this is a beautiful piece dear,keep it up

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

Thanks dearie


Feb 06, 2017

Berti Ozumba

Beautiful piece . Happy to see one of the ills of our society being dissected by our amazing youth. Keep it up.

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

Thankyou Sir. We can only hope for a better Nigeria..


Feb 05, 2017

ruthy

Brilliantly written & on point. Still your fan Chizzy! I desperately long for that country(army & all) that I'll be truly proud of!

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

Thanks Barbie. One day, we'll celebrate that. Until then, let's keep making impact in our little way


Feb 05, 2017

Ruthy

Always on point & brilliantly written! Kudos!! There was a country... can we have it back?

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

You can decide to take it back.. The violent taketh it by force. lol


Feb 05, 2017

chinelo

Dear Strawberry, You have once again penned it down in a clear picture. Yes we too hope to see ur Army. Well done!

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

Thanks Nelo.


Feb 03, 2017

Scad

Not surprised at all. The whole country is sick. Nice piece Chizzy.

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Feb 02, 2017

BelaChris

You, Chizzy, are capable of devotion, public devotion, to justice. You mean what you say &every day that passes, you mean it more. You have a beautiful mind! "I would love to see an army...." One I can proudly honour.

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

Thanks BelaChris. It takes passion to birth change.


Feb 02, 2017

Emmanuel Gerald

There was a country, we called our own! I hope she's still there.... Chizzy you've always made me proud... Dissecting the despicable menace, incompetence, corruption, nepotism, and indiscipline in the Military to mention but a few, in your piece is worth applauding not to imagine the passion you nursed from that tender age. Thanks again for your breathtaking piece. Keep up!

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Feb 02, 2017

Nelo

you nailed it....I hope to see ur dream army.

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Feb 02, 2017

Chike

You have just said it the way it is....For how long shall we continue in this manner? It is really sad that citizens have to go through this and the govt pretends not take notice. The govt is yet to truly show us that 'Change Begins with Me' by leading by example. However, there is always light the end of the tunnel...For us to see the light we have to keep moving.

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

Well in this case, the Army has noticed and promised a disciplinary action


Feb 02, 2017

Engr. Darlington

I share same thought with the Writer. Recent happenings in my country Nigeria has called for questioning of the Army Leadership. Lo and behold we have had so many cases of people being brutally battered by the Nigerian Military, this has to stop. The Pride we use to have for our Military Officers is no more.. I hope things will get better soon

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

The writer shares same view with you too dear.


Feb 02, 2017

Amara Esq.

Lovely piece! The thought of the NEW Nigerian Army leaves me with shivers. I read not long ago of an encounter a lady had with an army officer at a check point after the airport, as you are approaching Onitsha. The officer by the name Suleiman Olamilekan, said she gossiped about him to her friend and asked her to alight from the vehicle, kneel down and apologise. Her refusal to apologise for what she knew nothing of, landed her some strokes with an iron rod. She was badly injured on her laps. This awful act is not only dehumanizing but also a violation of her fundamental human right! With things going to this, I sincerely wonder where this country is headed. God help Nigeria, God help the Nigerian Army!

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odiinye

It was indeed a sad occurrence. however, I know that disciplinary action has been taken against the soldier. Thanks for sharing the story


Feb 02, 2017

Nnamdi

I never have any good impression of the Nigerian Army and the word "Bloody Civilian" irritates me so much. They feel like we owe them our lives like every other professions do not contribute to progress of the nation. I hope we get to see the Military you once fell in love with, the one which is "the pride of the nation".

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

I really don't know what to say right now. lol


Feb 01, 2017

Chuwaa

Kudos Chizzy, In this age of easy access to information, it's time we really speakout. Thanks for speaking out, one day the authorities will succumb. Similar experiences abound. A lady was molested enroute Onitsha from same PH last week by those uncouth, overzealous and poorly trained soldiers. What we see at the bottom is a reflection of what obtains at the top. The army became corrupt when nepotism was brazenly used to promote lower officers over and above senior colleagues.

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

Yea, I heard about the incidence. However, the soldier involved is currently in detention. Thanks for dropping by


Feb 01, 2017

Emmanuel Charles

Bravo. Nice piece. We talked about this few weeks back, never knew u'r already on it to pen it into lovely piece as this. I could feel your passion and desire to be and for a change. Thumb up.

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

Yea... All talks have never helped anyone


Feb 01, 2017

OSAYANDE

Not just a good work of art. You paint pictures with your words. Concerning Nigeria, the time where justice and righteousness will reign will come.

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

Thank you Osayande


Feb 01, 2017

Chukwukadibia Ude

You wrote from your heart. Where did we get it wrong? Training time or the demands of Federal Character Commission ? First, the military has lost its respect. It has become a destination for those who are tagged 'after all trials'. Many people go into it because there are no jobs. Secondly, I think our understanding of the call and responsibility of military is poor. A special part of governance that requires firmness, service and selflessness has been filled with mostly men and women who thrown out from the fires of frustration. Instead of working with the might of military, they work with the tone of frustration. Where firmness is required, what we see is instability. Your dreams about an excellent military is 100% possible and will start when men and women with a divine touch of safety, peace, love and devotion are allowed to display the glory in security, understanding, caring for people and the consistent compassion for the protection of the people. Like Francis Adoh pointed out, it's not only the military although they are meant to stand out. It's a general virus. It must start with accepting that we have missed the mark, followed by making a return to the Ultimate Presence from which understanding flows. Thank you for this.

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Feb 07, 2017

Anoynomous

I agree with you 100% Chuks. The army has become where people enter because they are sure of pension and a roof over their heads


Feb 01, 2017

austine philips

Where did we get it wrong?.....This Question keeps hunting me. It is high we started to face the reality that our nation requires an urgent surgical operation if not we are heading for doom. Oh! There Was A Country!

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Feb 01, 2017

Francis Adoh

Well Said And Articulated. I Love The Question You Asked " Where Did We Get It Wrong" These Observations Are Seen In Almost Every Sector Of Our Present Day Nigeria, Not Only The Military. Though I Understand How You Feel, For The Fact That The Military Supposed To Be The Last Institution To Be Corrupted. At least Amidst Every Other Department That Corruption Thrive, The Military Supposed To Stand Out. But Until The Rhetorical Question is Answered, Then Solution To The Prevailing Evil Will Emerge. Thanks Dear CHIZZY God Bless You.

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

Thank you Francis. I believe the solution will emerge soon enough especially when we become more vocal in community policing


Feb 01, 2017

Francis Adoh

Well Said And Articulated. I Love The Question You Asked " Where Did We Get It Wrong" These Observations Are Seen In Almost Every Sector Of Our Present Day Nigeria, Not Only The Military. Though I Understand How You Feel, For The Fact That The Military Supposed To Be The Last Institution To Be Corrupted. At least Amidst Every Other Department That Corruption Thrive, The Military Supposed To Stand Out. But Until The Rhetorical Question is Answered, Then Solution To The Prevailing Evil Will Emerge. Thanks Dear CHIZZY God Bless You.

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Feb 01, 2017

Vin

Ultimately nepotism and the lack of patriotism is to blame. Gone are the days when young men joined the army because they were patriotic and recruitment was strictly by merit, without considering what part of the nation one came from.

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

Exactly!! We need patriotic people in the Army. Not just the army but Nigerians need to be patriotic.


Feb 01, 2017

Greg

well seen, observed n written. the country problems are numerous to mention, I yearn for the provision of one to one matching n severe policies n stated specific engraved punishment for illegal activities for Nigeria citizens. Tanks Chizzy

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Feb 01, 2017

Mercy

I look forward to when things will get back to its original intent again. Nigeria and her institution will be better again. Proud of you Chizzy, welldone, good job.

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

Thank you mercy.


Feb 01, 2017

Rev ALADI chinenye felix

Chizzy keep it on

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Feb 01, 2017

Anonymous

Hmn! The problem of Nigeria is very complicated. Each time I think of it, the illumination of my hope for the country grows deam; yet I find it difficult to either belong to a failing nation or deny being her citizen. Evil is obviously becoming a norm. I charge the righteous to stop hiding and praying endlessly but rise to take up responsibilities in places in order to shine the light of Jesus Christ if any change must take place. Nice points and well articulated Chizzy, keep it up.

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

Dear Annon, rightly said. If all the Christians in Nigeria can take up responsibilities indeed Nigeria will be a great place.


Feb 01, 2017

Ekyhills!

Couldn't have been more aptly put! Sometimes it's overwhelming the load of work that is needed to be done in this country! It's depressing, God help us, buh then again we need to help ourselves more......

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

I agree with you Ekyhills. However, if we all decide to do our bit one day at a time, we'll gradually get there. Thank you so much


Feb 01, 2017

Success O.

Little foxes they say spoil the vine. Its just like yesterday. One solid, impact full and evergreen year of national service @ HQ 3 Division. Its a systemic problem and it hurts to see such in our dear nation. I perfectly do understand how you feel. But to be fair, it's not just the military, this idea of corruption has rippled down almost every sector of the economy.. Lets keep praying for our own Jerusalem "Nigeria" as well as contributing our little quota in seeing that we share in the joys of a better tomorrow.. Nice piece Lolo

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Feb 07, 2017

chizzy Odilinye

Yes dear. I agree that it's not just the military but the point is that they should never number among the corrupt. Indeed serving in 3 div was very impactful.


Feb 01, 2017

Toby Nwazor

I can understand how you must have felt. I have been on the road and the frequency of these military check points have become an eye sore. Though in my experience the soldiers themselves rarely ask for or collect whatever it is the other law enforcement officers ask for, but it sure looks real bad when I see them (though rarely) do it. I love this.

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Feb 07, 2017

Chizzy Odilinye

Thank you Toby


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