A former instructor at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Major Mohammed Galma (retd), has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to look into what he described as “alarming withdrawals” recorded in the academy.
In an interview with Daily Trust, Major Galma, who was an instructor at the academy, lamented over the number of cadets who withdrew from NDA at the just concluded Passing out Parade of 260 cadets from the 68th Regular Course Army, Air Force and Navy.
He noted that some of the cadets may not measure up academically, but combatant militarily, the cadet can be excellent.
“If you give emphasis on the academics as a military institution for training officers, the Nigerian military is in for it.”
He stressed that the practice of promoting 2nd Lieutenants to the next rank months after their commissioning is partly responsible for the casualties the military is facing in the war zone and the number of desertions.
He said, “I know there are many reasons why a person is withdrawn including indiscipline, desertion as well as the psychology of the cadets because not many can withstand the rigours one passes through to become an officer and that is why I keep emphasizing this to parents that if their wards have been found unfit medically, they should not force them to go to the academy.”
“Initially military training was two and half years for regular courses, so it is my opinion that the cadets that do not measure up can go without getting the degree, later they were commissioned as second lieutenants and sent to the field instead of withdrawing them because they have been trained, they know how to handle weapons and all drill and allowing them to roam around with bandits all over the place.
“The aim of the academy is to produce officers, now if you study Biology and finish, you will be sent to the field, maybe Birnin Gwari or Borno, and is it the biology that will help them in the bush or the military training that they have acquired?”
Major Galma who was posted to NDA in June 1981 as an instructor Staff Officer, said he had been in many selection boards.
The retired military officer who was the Administrative Officer for almost 32 regular up to 35 regular added, “The system before was not a university one, every state was expected to produce at least 50 candidates to come for the interview, and out of the 50 candidates, only 15 were eventually selected into the NDA.”
He said, “When NDA became a university, there were so many suggestions on what courses to run, which one is going to be a principal aim, academic or military; and I must say, I was highly impressed since I started watching this cadet doing drill, how they are able to make it because I wonder how they find time do combine military training and academics.”
He called for a thorough investigation into the large number of withdrawals at the academy in order for it to be corrected to tackle the state of insecurity in the country saying, “If over 500 cadets started the 68th Regular course and only 260 are being commissioned, it is an attrition that needs to be promptly corrected.”