Friday, September 03, 2010

Coups are outmoded - Obasanjo



President Olusegun Obasanjo being ushered into the Burma Hall by Lieutenant General Joseph Henry Smith (left) Defense Minister and Major General P.A. Blay (right) Chief of Defense Staff

Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday September 3, 2010
General Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Wednesday afternoon at the Burma Hall in Accra gave a frank assessment of what he thinks about the role of the military in promoting constitutional democracy in modern times, saying no soldier should ever be allowed to overthrow a democratically elected government on the African continent.

He said the sudden unconstitutional deposition of democratically elected governments on the continent mostly led by the military have never brought the development that Africa needs so badly.

Referring to the leadership crises that hit Nigeria following the sudden death of his successor, President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua, the former President said “recently when we had a little leadership crises, certain influential personalities started calling me saying General, why don’t you ask your military to intervene. There are no men in Nigeria now. Look at what the politicians are doing.”

President Obasanjo was the guest of hounour at a panel discussion organized by the Ghana Military Academy (GMA) as part of activities marking the 50th anniversary celebration of the GMA.

The discussion which had the theme: “Turning out quality military leaders in the 21th Century: A re-appraisal of leadership training in the Ghana Armed Forces,” as moderated by Emmanuel Bombande of the West Africa Peace building Network (WANEP) with Professor Kofi Kumador of the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, Dr. Kwesi Aning, of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Center and Rear Admiral (Rtd.) JY Adoko as panel members.

The former Nigerian leader who himself once became President through coup d ├ętat underwent his basic officer military training in Ghana and it was an interesting reunion when he met his cadet day’s mates such as General Josuah Hamidu and a host of others on Wednesday.

At the well attended programme, Gen. Obasanjo stressed the need for exemplary leadership in the military said no soldier in active service should get involved in partisan politics saying “if you want to do politics then remove your uniform, go campaign and become democratically elected.”

“Do not take a gun in the middle of the night and incite your colleagues to over throw a democratically elected government. It does not serve anybody any good.”
“As the process of democratization deepens, leadership training must move more towards fighting the real threats to democracy and good governance which jeopardize national development in the 21st Century.”

He said rule of law, democracy and the quest for accelerated development has come to change the dynamics of how politics is done and it needed effective and quick-thinking leaders to deal with the challenges.

“As a leader you have to understand the world in which we live in today and the emerging challenges that come with it. Leadership is full of hazards but it is up to you to distinguish yourself by predicting the needs of your people and taking steps to provide them.”

He said leadership training in the military should be able to tackle new threats in democracy and development and declared that any leader who did not have a good successor is a failure.

He tasked military persons to develop basic communication skills and strengthen their human relations capacities for the public to appreciate their services better saying “the amount of training we get in the military cannot be compared anywhere.”

Commenting on Ghana’s military, President Obasanjo said “Ghana has a marvelous history in peace support operations which must be strengthened in accordance with the current complex missions that its security forces engage in.”

“As an alumnus of the Regular Officers Special Training School (ROSTS), the parent of the Military Academy, it is with a sense of nostalgia that I accept to come down to be involved in, as it were, the rechristening of my alma mater. Above all, it has always been a personal joy to come back to Ghana which I consider to be my second home.”

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