CG Musa: A Patriotic Military General that Defers to Civil Authority
By Abdulsalam Mahmud
The military high command under the leadership of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Christopher Musa has once again pledged loyalty to the “constitutional authority” of President Bola Tinubu, saying that it will not be distracted from its roles that are well defined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
In a recent statement, the Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General Tukur Gusau, said the military frown upon unpatriotic, wicked online reports, and an attempt to distract the military from performing its constitutional responsibilities.
“We wish to state unequivocally that the military is happy and better under democracy and will not get involved in any act to sabotage the hard-earned democracy in our country,” the statement added.
General Musa has been in the news lately not only as the CDS but also by the position of Committee of Defence Chiefs of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) of which he is the Chairman over the coup in Niger Republic.
Meanwhile, when the news broke in June, exactly two months ago, that the immediate-past Service Chiefs were asked to proceed on voluntary leave by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, I was unperturbed. The presidential directive, ordinarily is one that should not send shivers down anyone’s spine.
The thing is, no sooner than a new President and Commander-in-Chief assumes office, Service Chiefs and Heads of most security agencies are given the boot. That is the tradition.
It didn’t start with the Tinubu Presidency. A Successor’s capacity to deliver is one thing that many people worry about, whenever there is a change of guard at any organization or even a nation.
However, the one that recently took place at the Defence Headquarters, DHQ, that saw General Leo Irabor passing over the leadership baton to Gen. Christopher Gwabim Musa, was one that was roundly hailed, for many reasons.
Both Irabor and Musa are among the finest generals that the Nigerian military has produced in recent years. They are celebrated military brass. Intellectually-sound, the two consummate senior officers are surprisingly down-to-earth.
Nobody will controvert the fact that when General Irabor assumed office as CDS in January 2021, Nigeria had not almost turned into another Somalia or perhaps, an Afghanistan, no thanks to ferocious insecurity.
But it is gratifying to note that though security threats still persist in several parts of the country, the Nigerian military, under Gen. Irabor as its Head, was actively involved and more engaged in the business of tackling terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, economic saboteurs and other criminal elements.
Irabor, as the 16th Defence Chief of Nigeria, launched innovative policies and programmes towards boosting the capacity of the military. The highpoint of Gen. Irabor’s leadership at the DHQ is forging partnership collaborations with relevant stakeholders in the country, and even foreign militaries like the California National. Guard, among others.
Gen. Musa, on one hand, is also a general of no mean repute. The newly-decorated Defence Chief is a winner of the prestigious Collins Powell Meritorious Award for Soldiering. Before his appointment as CDS, the Kaduna State-born Army General was the Theatre Commander, Operation Hadin Kai, where he led officers and troops to record significant combat strides against terrorists of Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP.
One region in the North East that can be described as the cradle of the ISWAP-Boko Haram insurgency is Lake Chad. Fighters of the two terrorist sects consider the Lake Chad axis as their impregnable fortress. But during the reign of Gen. CG Musa as Theatre Commander, troops of the Nigerian Army took the fight to the two insurgents’ sects, which saw many terror criminals flee as a result of the ferocious onslaughts of military troops, at the axis.
Hit by several air interdictions launched by the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, alpha jets, helicopter gunships, and Super Tucanos, the Lake Chad region, especially where terrorists have their enclaves located, was liberated just a few months after Gen. Musa took over the mantle of leadership at the Theatre Command.
It is apt to posit that the North East region, entirely, is no longer a haven for terrorists. The hitherto ‘notorious axis’ is gradually regaining its lost glory as a hub for thriving socio-economic activities, not only for Nigerians in the region, but indigenes of neighboring African countries like Chad, Cameroun and Niger Republic.
Aside from neutralizing hundreds of Boko Haram and ISWAP members, gallant troops under the Commandership of Gen. Musa – then as Theatre Commander – and the collaboration of the Multi-National Joint Task Force, MNJTF, recovered massive cache(s) of lethal firearms and ammunition from insurgents, between June 2021 and mid 2023.
Similarly, no fewer than 100,000 Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists and their families surrendered to troops of Operation Hadin Kai in the North-East, between September 2021 to May this year. This remarkable success, no doubt was made possible by the military’s intensified offensive and onslaught against insurgents in the region, at a time Gen. Musa held sway as Theatre Commander
Thanks to the courageous and purposeful leadership of Gen. Musa, several Chibok girls who went missing after Boko Haram invaded their school in 2014, have been rescued by troops. Their rescue, which happened between last year and now, followed aggressive military operations in Sambisa Forest, Mandara Mountain, and the Lake Chad area. Efforts to ensure that the rest of the girls are also freed through the ongoing Operation Lake and Desert Sanity have been intensified, following a marching operational order Gen. CG Musa gave to troops, sometime in July 2022.
Between June 2021 and May 2023, combat activities in Operation Hadin Kai Theatre, Commanded by Gen. Musa, resulted in the neutralization of no fewer than 1,800 terrorists, including their high-profile Commanders and Amirs.
It is also pertinent to highlight the fact that, as the Commander of Operation Hadin Kai, Maj. Gen. Christopher Musa, significantly accelerated the amnesty programme for repentant Boko Haram terrorists.
The aforementioned strides of Gen. Musa, definitely assisted in waning the combat power and strength of ISWAP and Boko Haram. By the time Gen. Musa’s stint at the Theatre Command was over, reports have it that over 1.5 million IDPs who had taken refuge in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, returned back to their ancestral homes.
Again, Gen. CG Musa, at the Theatre Command, was instrumental to the reopening of federal roads in Borno State, earlier closed due to insecurity. He also ordered the dismantling of roadblocks across the North East, so as to revamp economic activities in the region, as well as to ease the hardship being faced by commuters and transporters on Borno, Yobe and Adamawa highways.
Towards ensuring that the physical and mental wellbeing of troops in the North East are boosted, Gen. Musa adequately catered for the welfare of troops prosecuting the counter-insurgency war in Borno and other parts of the troubled region. He aggressively nurtured a mutually-beneficial civil-military relationship between residents of the North East and troops, which made the former to even take ownership of the anti-insurgency war.
As CDS, Gen. Musa has already shown that he means business with tackling Nigeria’s security woes. The quintessential military officer knows that the stakes are high, and won’t like to disappoint teeming Nigerians. Barely two weeks ago, he unveiled his strategic leadership philosophy as Head of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
General Chris Musa is a strong believer of civilian control of the military, a doctrine that places ultimate responsibility for a country’s strategic decision-making in the hands of the civilian political leadership, rather than professional military officers.
As the forum Chairman of ECOWAS Defence Chiefs, General Musa believes in civilian oversight over militaries, going by their resolutions taken after that of regional political leaders over the crisis in Niger.
The oversight in democratic governments, puts the power to take military action in the hands of a civilian leader or legislative agency which further demonstrates a healthy respect for democratic values and good governance
Also, he has been engaging with critical sectors towards proffering lasting solutions to the country’s insecurity, since he was appointed CDS. It is only a matter of time for the desired results many citizens anticipate, to begin manifesting. Meanwhile, Nigerians of all religious, ideological and political creeds should be prepared to lend the brand new Defence Chief their invaluable supports. He direly needs it to actualize his grand vision for the Nigerian military.