By Zagazola Makama

Nobody is better placed to champion the cause of unity, peace and stability in the society than he who commands spiritual authority.

Riding on a high moral pedestal, such a leader possesses the capacity to mold the character under his moral influence into a force for good.

Spiritual leaders are like torch-bearers. Through their sobered preachments and pious disposition, they hold out the light in place of darkness, inspire hope in times of despair and provide moral compass for the people to navigate the truth.

It becomes concerning and indeed disappointing when such a moral or spiritual leader decides to turn his pulpit into a platform of misinformation, mischaracterisation and misrepresentation, for whatever reason.

It is even more dangerous when the object or subject of such misinformation, mischaracterisation and misrepresentation has to do with sensitive matters such as the defense and security of the country.

The video clip of a sermon by a revered Imam, Mallam Lawan Triumph surfaced over the weekend and not a few people were incensed by the content of what ought to have been a ‘sobered preachment’. For whatever reason, the good Imam veered off the spiritual upliftment of the congregants to pander to the highly inflammable Nigerian politics.

Not only was he trying to mix religion with politics, he went as far as diminishing the choice of Gen Chris Musa as Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff; not on account of his competence but for where he hails from and the religion he professes!

In the reckoning of the good Imam, Gen Musa’s pedigree as a thorough-bred military officer, who has distinguished himself with a track record of excellence, does not matter while considering him for appointment as Chief of Defence Staff. What is paramount, in his estimation, is where the General hails from (Zangon Kataf) and where he worships!

As a matter of fact, the good Imam made a lot of inflammable submissions in that sermon which we will not bother to rehash here. It is, however, apropos to remind him and those other clerics who show no restraint in inciting their audience with divisive rhetoric, that they are not living up to their calling.

Their calling is to be fair-minded, unbiased, selfless, tolerant and peaceful. It is not to stoke ethno-religious division, nor to make inciting statements capable of igniting ethnic or religious conflagration.

Pray tell, how is it fair to say that General Christopher Musa is not worthy to be the Chief of Defence Staff simply because he is a Christian from a minority ethnic group of Kataf? How did were Gen Musa (or any Service Chief for that matter) hail from or where he worships determine his experience, competence, capacity and readiness to discharge his duty in accordance with the expectations of the Nigerian people?

In the face of mounting internal security challenges assailing the country and the north in particular, does the good Imam really care about who will produce results, or he is more interested in provincialism? More importantly, who says that the CDS or the Service Chiefs must come from any particular region or religion?

In any case, the crux of my intervention with this article is to allay the fears of the Imam (and those who share his views) about the choice of Gen Chris Musa as Nigeria’s 18th Chief of Defence Staff.

As a Counterinsurgency Expert who has covered Nigerian military’s counter insurgency and anti-banditry operations across the Lake Chad region and the northwest region of Nigeria in the last decade, I believe I stand in good stead to tell the Imam more about Gen Musa.

Like a professional colleague aptly captured it, the history of battle between the insurgent Boko Haram/ISWAP and the five countries around the lake Chad region can never be completely written without the mention of General Christopher Musa.

A warrior in all ramifications and a defender of the good of our common humanity, Gen Musa is a courageous gentleman officer whose structure and name alone send cold chills down the spine of terrorists.

Winner of the prestigious Collins Powell Meritorious Award for Soldiering, Gen Musa became the Theatre Commander, North East Task Force Operation Hadin Kai, in 2021.

His time at the North_East was marked by the ruthless decimation of tens of high-profile terrorist commanders and hundreds of their foot soldiers by troops of the Nigerian Military. Working in active synergy with sister-services and other security agencies, the troops under his Command consistently dealt deadly blows to the terrorist groups in his areas of responsibility.

With a combination of kinetic and non kinetic approaches targeted at the adversaries, it was under his command that over a hundred thousand Boko Haram members and their families laid down their arms and voluntarily surrendered to the troops of the Nigerian military. The efforts of the military under his command also led to the return of more than 1.5 million IDPs taken refuge in Maiduguri, Borno State capital back to their ancestral homes.

He facilitated the reopening of federal roads in Borno State that were closed due to insecurity and ordered the dismantling of a roadblock set up by security to boost economic activities in the state as well as to ease the hardship being faced by commuters and transporters on the highway.

His legacies at the North-East theater of operation also include the excellent management of man and material which saw to exponential improvement of troops’ welfare and good relationship with the civil populace.

His trajectory in the military made former President Muhammadu Buhari to confirm him with the prestigious National Award in the category of Officers Of the Order of the Federal

At the end of his tour of duty at Operation Hadin Kai, Gen Musa was posted to Command the Infantry Corps, the position he held until his appointment as the Chief of Defence Staff.

What Nigerian Expect From Gen Chris Musa

It is the desire of every distinguished battle-tested General to command the entire Army one day if God so approves. But the God of General Musa rather chose another path for him, and which is that he should rather suprintend over the entire Armed Forces of Nigeria.


As the Chief of Defence Staff of a country where 34 out of 36 states are involved in one crisis or the other, only God can guide this General in this onerous task ahead of him. His ascension to the highest military rank in Nigeria is surely not by chance.

It is obviously the result of his track record of excellence. With the partnership and cooperation of the Service Chiefs, it is expected that the military under his superintendence will get on top of the current security challenges across the country and possibly contain them.

Residents of Plateau and Kaduna states respectively will be returned to their ancestral lands snatched from them by dare-devil bandits. That is ongoing because Nigerians have seen the new Army Chief, Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja, launch operation “Hakorin Damisa ” to take out daring bandits who have taken over more than 200 communities from residents.

Many internally displaced persons in Jos and environs know that they will soon return to their ancestral homes with this renewed zeal.

Above all, with the new GOC of 3 Division, Maj. Gen Abdulsalam Abubakar, who has already hit the ground running by relocating his Operational Headquarters to Mangu, it is expected that the terrorists will be rooted out soon and most residents will spend Christmas in their homes already taken over by foreign bandits.

He is going into the Plateau war theater from his wealth of experience as GOC 7 Division and former Commander Sector 3 Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) of the North-East war theater. The state will soon have a big sigh of relief.

In Kaduna State, the ongoing wave of onslaughts against criminals in their enclaves has already drawn significant praises from the residents for completely clearing the bandits terrorising commuters along the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway; so also the bandits tormenting Kuriga, Manini Chikun, Pole Wire, Birnin Gwari, Ungwan Namama, Kwalba, Rafin Dawa Dende,Ungwan Madaki, Buruku, Udawa, Doka, Maganda, Dogon Dawa, Sabon, Layi-Kuriga-Maganda-Farin Ruwa, Sabon Birni, Kuyelo,Farin Ruwa, Damba to Kangon Kadi, Labi,Udawa river Apewohe, Dakwala and Kunai villages among others.

The troops deployed in the areas artfully ensured that flashpoints within the Kaduna General area were also kept in check to prevent any form of dissent or criminal activities from any quarter.

The killings in Zamfara, Katsina and Niger states respectively will end and residents will return home. That is the expectation of people in Niger Shiroro, Birnin Gwari, Kuta and up to Sokoto.

In Kogi state, the sleeper cells of terrorists in Kogi, Okene Forest, Eyima, Okehi and Adavi, from where they are carrying out their heinous crimes, have been dislodged while 12 Brigade with two battalions with several FOBs are currently being mapped out to sustain the gains.

A lot of military watchers expect that some of the rusty conventional doctrines of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) will be deliberately tampered with to ensure new recruits understand right from the depot how to engage in asymmetric warfare, banditry and any other form of reinvented criminality.

The revered Imam, Malam Lawal Abubakar Triumph should be learned enough to know that Allah exalts whosoever He wishes, Muslim or Christian, to any position in the human society.

Malam should also know that the military's constitutional duty and responsibility is to protect the territorial integrity and secure the country from internal and external insurrection.

So constitutionally sacred and exceptional are the military's duties and responsibilities that whoever, Muslim or Christian, is adjudged most capable and competent to perform any task is assigned to do so without any bias whatsoever.

Gen. Christopher G Musa, who is exceptionally committed to the peace and security of Nigeria, was appointed CDS on the grounds of sheer credibility, capacity and competence, not on the grounds of his religion and region.

Zagazola Makama is a Counter-Insurgency expert and Security Analyst in the Lake Chad region