By Rev Solomon Semaka
For more than a decade, Jos and indeed the whole of Plateau State was embroiled in recurring crisis that refused to abate. Lives and property worth billions of naira were lost on the Plateau in the process. The city was ethnically and religiously profiled and visitors had to take caution not to go into the wrong section of the city. Killings and enforced disappearances were reported on a regular without an end in sight. The once serene and beautiful State and city of Jos had become a nightmare to visitors and businessmen as well as tourists. All efforts by the State and federal government to neutralise the situation failed; including the declaration of a state of emergency. All these challenges peaked before the appointment of the current Chief of Defense Staff, General Lucky Irabor and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Faruk Yahaya
Since assumption of office as the duo, they has never slowed down or waned in their resolve to tackle a number of Nigeria’s security challenges.
As both officers who served at the theatre command in the North East, they are well versed not just in the management of war but fully grounded both in operational and psychological tactics. The synergy existing between the military and other sister security and paramilitary institutions has been commendable under the reign of General Irabor as chief of Defense staff. Aside from prioritizing the professional training of officers and men of the Nigerian military, the chief of Defence Staff (CDS) has demonstrated that he is indeed an accomplished war commander by the kind of appointments he made within the Nigerian military formations across board in line with the collective vision of Mr President. Putting the right officers in the right postings is perhaps his greatest weapon in the fight against insecurity and terror in the country.
While appreciating and acknowledging the professional efforts of the CDS and his service chiefs. It is pertinent to acknowledge the support of Mr President to the fight against insecurity in Nigeria. For it is on his shoulders that that entire military and defense infrastructure rest. It goes without saying that the successes recorded so far in the war against terror both by the Air Force, Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Navy wouldn’t have been possible without his astute leadership style. We therefore pay special tribute to him for the peace we are enjoying in Plateau State and for the support the COAS has extended to the GOC 3 Division of the Nigerian Army ,Maj Gen Ibrahim Ali who doubles as the Theater Commander of Operation Safe Haven is currently enjoying.
The appointment of Major General Ibrahim Ali as the Grand Officer Commanding (GOC) Division 3, headquartered in Jos, Plateau State as the Commander of Operation Safe Haven, is one of such manifestly productive appointments that has endeared the people of Plateau and environs and indeed Nigerians to the current the administration commitment to security of lives and property.
The incumbent commander of the Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) has no doubt broken the jinks and ensured sustainable security and peace on the Plateau and environs within a short time on the saddle. Like Einstein would say, he climbed on the ‘shoulders’ of his predecessors and did what many thought was impossible due to the peculiar nature of the crisis. His sincere and professional commitment has brought to a drastic end in the protracted crisis that almost swallowed up the communities within Jos and environs.
Immediately upon assumption of duty as GOC division 3, Nigerian Army, Maj Gen Ibrahim Ali reached out to both the political, religious and traditional institutions on the Plateau to find a lasting solution to the prevailing insecurity prior to his appointment. The support gathered from the Nigerian Police and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps must actively be acknowledged and the collaboration commended. His diplomatic consultations did not just yield temporal fruits but have become a template for peace support operations in Nigeria as a whole. Nigerians are proud of the giant strides of the military and indeed commends the CDS anf his service chiefs for choosing the right Commanders to restore lasting peace across the country.
Not only has Major General Ibrahim Ali been an excellent Commander, but he has also proven himself to be an excellent administrator and a development enthusiast too. In the few days, he has held sway as the GOC 3 Division Nigerian Army, he has justified the position and confidence reposed in him and his soldiers by CDS and COAS. Despite the scarce resources available to the Nigerian military, the (OPSH)under Maj Gen Ibrahim Ali has remodelled the Maxwell Khobe Cantonment Main Entrance Gate and the Quarter Guard. Solar-powered street lights are installed to ensure the internal security of lives and property within environs. Currently, their is ongoing construction of Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association (NAOWA) 3 Division Chapter Secretariat. As if this is not enough, renovation of soldiers’ accommodation as well as the ongoing construction of the 3 Division Gymnasium Center and the Swimming Pool in line with the Chief of Defense Staff’s mandate to create sane and comfortable working conditions for men and officers of the Nigerian military.
General Ali knows the importance of peaceful coexistence and has worked to deepen his relationship with members of the host communities and indeed all the people under his command General Area of Responsibility. He has unlike anybody before him executed several projects under the Corporate Social Responsibility blueprint of the Nigerian Army. The Peace and Unity Walk which is supposed to bring everyone in Jos and its environs to exercise and develop positive energy as well as medical outreaches, and water supply to communities around the Maxwell Khobe Cantonment are just some of the many things the military has done to the ever grateful people on the Plateau and beyond. Constant engagement with youths, women and Civil Society Organizations has stood the command out in terms of results . The military is also known to be a great contributor to the educational and sports development activities within the General Area of Responsibility as education and sport are crucial to peace and youth development.
As the representative of the COAS, Maj Gen Ibrahim Ali has also distinguished himself as one officer that has maintained a very cordial, professional and apolitical relationship with the host state government. This is perhaps one of the reasons why he has achieved so much in a short time. Indeed General Ali has justified the confidence reposed in him by the military top brass and indeed Nigerians who have watched with admiration the gradual return of peace on the Plateau and elsewhere. The recent swift response of Operation Safe Haven to an attack on Bokos community merits a special mention here and is deserving of commendation. Proactive steps such as these are necessary if we must defeat terror and all forms of insecurity in the country.
As the 2023 general elections draw near, Nigerians are beginning to be worried about the security of their lives and property not just in Plateau State but everywhere across the nation. However based on the facts available on ground, Plateau and it’s environs will enjoy peaceful polls even as the relevant security agencies on ground have been working round the clock to thwart any attempt to breach peace. We must not forget that security is everybody’s business and must work hand in hand with him to provide credible intelligence. Reporting suspicious movements around our neighbourhoods are crucial if we want to continue enjoying the peace that has been recorded so far. As the 2023 general elections draw near, we must strive to desist from being used by selfish politicians to disrupt the peace and tranquillity on the Plateau and elsewhere. Let’s join hands together to restore the dignity of our country as we consolidate on the existing peace on the Plateau.
Solomon Semaka is a Civil Society and Mass Media Consultant, Convener of Save Nigeria Movement (SNM) and lives in Abuja