By Goodluck Jonathan*
It is a thing of joy to join you here once again, at the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), to review the passing out of the 60th Regular Course Cadets, which today include, 8 graduating Cadets from the Republic of Liberia. I am honoured to extend a special welcome to His Excellency, the President of Ivory Coast, Alassane Dramane Ouattara, who is not only here to witness this graduation, but also to be honoured with an honorary doctorate degree of this prestigious military institution.
M.r President, you are an exemplary leader, an African role model, whose commitment to social and economic change in Ivory Coast is quite remarkable. We urge you to keep up the good work. Your Excellency, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, since establishment in 1964, the NDA has played a leading and holistic role in the attainment of our aspiration to build a strong, safe, and secure country for all Nigerians.
By its consistency and thoroughness in the production of astutely trained, and highly disciplined Officers for our Armed Forces, the NDA deserves its global reputation of excellence, and its mandate of elite capacity development for the protection of our sovereignty. The NDA’s commitment to best practices, in military and intellectual development and as a centre of excellence for military training, being the pioneer military university in West Africa, has also earned the trust and confidence of sister countries, who have consistently sent their officers here for training.
For our graduating Officers, you commenced this momentous journey five years ago, full of hope and promise. Some of your course mates may have fallen by the way side, but you have relentlessly and gallantly, endured to this day. I congratulate each and everyone one of you, and your proud families, on the successful completion of your course. This is undoubtedly an astonishing moment that you will all remember, in the years to come. I am confident that you will take away from this institution, qualities that will enable you fulfill your dreams, and contribute your best to the specific services of your commission, and your Nation.
The parade we have just witnessed is a distinctive display of excellence, hard work, discipline and rigorous training. Today marks the end of your rigorous training in this academy and the beginning of your careers as Officers in the Armed Forces. Soon, you shall be Commissioned Officers, with important contributions to make to the realization of our national security objectives. You must brace up to join your colleagues in the ongoing efforts to protect and defend our nation from any threat whether domestic or internationally inspired.
The Nigerian Armed Forces have a world-acclaimed reputation for valour, resilience and loyal service. The highly coveted Presidential Commission you will be receiving requires you to uphold these core values. You must avoid any behaviour that will tarnish your honour and dignity as commissioned Officers. As you embark in building your careers in military service, your country expects the highest degree of faithfulness, loyalty, honesty and dedicated service. Thus, your commitment and loyalty to the Armed Forces, and your various Nations, must be unwavering and absolute.
Your commission today, is a passport for further service to humanity. Therefore, when on peacekeeping assignments around the world, nothing short of exemplary conduct, stout leadership and professionalism, will make the nations you represent proud. You must never compromise in adherence to the Rules of Engagement, which will be the key to your operational success. Every Nigerian Cadet here today, has an important role to play in the ongoing transformation process in the Armed Forces, an initiative, which the Federal Government will continue to support and expand, within available resources.
Let me reiterate that my administration is committed to ensuring equity, due process, merit and the rule of law. I note with satisfaction, the report that our young female cadets have continued to prove that they are second to none in training, and in adhering to military discipline. My dream in initiating the process of admission of female cadets into the Defence Academy was born out of my belief that, given the opportunity, our young sisters will do Nigeria proud. I feel fulfilled by my decision to permit regular combatant training for female cadets. I urge these amazons to keep working even harder than their male counterparts to meet the best standards of the academy and make our nation proud, as well as inspiring others to follow in their steps.
Over the decades, the NDA has evolved into a platform for building understanding and strengthening cooperation between the Armed Forces of Nigeria and those of sister African countries. This great institution, has also provided a genuine platform for young men and women from all parts of our country, to live, train and learn together in an environment devoid of discrimination, and harassment. We must ensure that this noble tradition is promoted, protected and defended. Let me use this opportunity to call on those individuals who cause disaffection and mayhem in our country, and in other parts of Africa, under whatever guise, to imbibe the values of peace, love and unity, which exist here in the NDA. I have no doubt, that in building a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria and Africa of our collective dream, the virtue of peace, love, unity and common purpose are most important.
I commend the Commandant and his team for creating the right environment for quality academic and military training and values to thrive in this institution. I have received encouraging reports on the performance and progress of the female cadets in the regular combatant course programme, since it started two years ago and we are proud of them, and of our pioneering initiative. It is worthy of note that as required by the National Universities Commission (NUC) guidelines, the next set of cadets, who will commence training in a few weeks, were admitted through the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
commend the Nigerian Defence Academy Council – the institution’s Governing Board – for complying with this directive, in order to align with the requirements for admission into degree awarding institutions in our country. I am also pleased that the NDA has embraced the Federal Government’s initiative on intensifying the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). This reinforces my confidence in the military’s vital role in accelerating our national technological development.
I congratulate the NDA in advance as it turns 50 years on 26 January 2014. This is, undoubtedly, a major milestone for this great institution, whose graduates have been pivotal in shaping the life of our Nation. I salute the founding fathers for their foresight in establishing this institution, which is even more relevant today for our national security and development. I also salute all those individuals, Nigerians and non-Nigerians, whose contributions helped steer the NDA on its lofty path, these fifty years. I wish the entire NDA community successful golden jubilee celebrations ahead. The Government will continue to work towards the completion of the Permanent Site, in order to enhance training in the institution.
In concluding, I would like to, once again, congratulate the Commandant and Staff of the Nigerian Defence Academy, for successfully delivering yet another set of graduate officers, and future leaders for our Armed Forces and the Armed Forces of the Republic of Liberia. I urge you to remain steadfast in your uncommon task. For our graduates, I urge you to strive to be the best in your vocation, and hence shining stars to the entire nation.
* Being excerpts from a speech delivered by President Goodluck Jonathan at the Passing Out Parade of Officer Cadets of the 60 Regular Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, on Saturday 14th September, 2013.