By Henry Oladele
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Monday in Lagos advised army personnel to remain apolitical, neutral and professional as the 2019 General Elections approach.
The COAS spoke at the opening ceremony of the Nigerian Army College of Logistics (NACOL) 18th Annual Conflict Management Seminar held at the college in Lagos.
The COAS was represented by the Chief of Army Standard and Evaluation, Maj.-Gen. Adekunle Shodunke.
“As the 2019 general elections approach, commanders at all levels must continue to provide requisite leadership for their men and officers.
“Commanders must also ensure that their personnel are continually reminded of the need to remain apolitical, uphold the tenets of military professionalism and being guided by the provision of the constitution.
“Let me assure Nigerians that the army will continue to uphold the tenets of democracy, comply with the rules of engagement and code of conduct during any military assistance to civil authority,” he said.
He said that the army would continue to play its role on resolving the herdsmen and farmers’ conflict and put in place measures for safe return of displaced farmers to their homes and farmland.
The COAS said that the seminar would broaden the officers’ understanding of remote and immediate causes of various conflicts in the country.
“This year’s seminar with the theme: “Building Nigerian Army Capacity for Responsive Conflict Management” is most appropriate in the prevailing security situation.
“An understanding of remote and immediate causes of the various conflicts in the country, their impacts on the society are precursors to resolving such conflicts and preventing further recurrences.
“It is my hope that the communique that will be reached at the end of the seminar will impact positively on building capacity in the army for responsive conflict management at all levels,” he said.
He said that the army under his watch had employed several conflict management techniques through mediation and town hall meetings among aggrieved parties to resolve disagreement.
Buratai also said that the army would continue to employ alternative conflict resolution techniques to resolve and manage conflicts among aggrieved parties to facilitate peaceful co-existence.
He appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari for his assurances and encouragement of the efforts by the armed forces in combating prevailing security threats facing the nation.
Earlier, the NACOL Commandant, Maj.-Gen. Richard Duru, in his welcome address, said that the seminar was to broaden the knowledge of the students on ways of managing conflicts.
“The two-day seminar will consist essentially of presentation of papers on various topics and the resource persons are very unique,” he said.
He also said the college was driving a transformation agenda in line with the COAS vision and direction.
“Transformation of NACOL began with the upgrade of infrastructure in the college, remodelling of NACOL students hostel and so on,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that not less than 30 students are participating in the seminar.
NAN also reports that both serving and retired military officers were present at the opening ceremony.