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‘I hate indiscipline’, new Commandant bemoans moral decadence at NDA

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•Says Academy reeks of indiscipline, drug abuse, parental nuisance
•Vows to expel culprits

Senator Iroegbu

The new Commandant of Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Maj-Gen. Jamil Sarham, has lamented about what he sees as the degrading standards in the quality of Cadets produced by the foremost military institution.

Sarham was the immediate General Commanding Officer (GOC) 6 Division Nigerian Army Port Harcourt who had a famous fallout with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.


Speaking on the deteriorating state of things in NDA, he warned that the academy, which is renowned as a factory to manufacture future military leaders, will be failing in its mandate if the prevailing level of indiscipline and morale decadence is allowed to continue

The 27th Commandant of NDA made these assertions on Friday in his maiden speech to the faculty, instructors and cadets of the institution where he declared war against indiscipline with a vow to expel anyone found wanting.

He listed several instances of indiscipline including sexual misconduct, absence without official leave, examination malpractices, abuse and unnecessary parental interventions thereby constituting nuisance to the Academy.

Against this backdrop, Sarham said he will be “unforgiving” in clearing the Academy of the bad eggs and restore it to its former glory.

He said: “Let me tell you my stand on discipline: I hate indiscipline. As a product of this same illustrious Academy, I would be tone deaf if I say I am not aware of some of the unsavoury things currently going on in NDA today. Things like cadets going on AWOL and re-jabbed, cadets engaging in examination malpractices, sexual misconduct, substance abuse, cadets fighting and disrespecting officers and parents interfering in disciplinary or academic issues.

“Such happenings, hitherto unheard of in the Academy, simply show that we must take a step back and ask ourselves, if really, we are developing the next crop of Nigeria’s military leaders in a manner that drives the importance of good character and discipline. We will be unforgiving for any dangerous and destructive behaviour from any cadet. An undisciplined cadet who presents a serious danger to self or others, or who substantially disrupts the learning environment, will be withdrawn. We may also engage in random drug testing to deal with issue of substance abuse.”

“My red line as Commandant, will be cadets who exhibit indiscipline and who do not treat my military and academic staff with respect and dignity. Such cadets will have a very short stay in NDA. We have rules, and I will demand that each and every cadet abides by those rules. My staff and I, will accept nothing less than a wholehearted devotion to turning out officers who are worthy of being called NDA graduates as well as officers and gentlemen. The privilege to call yourself NDA officer- cadets and later NDA graduates must be earned —because it is not a title simply given.”

For those who might have forgotten, Sarham volunteered to remind them what is the mission of NDA. Providing the answer, he said: “NDA’s mission is to educate, train and inspire the officer cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honour, Discipline and Country, and fully prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the nation as officers in the AFN.

“Under my watch, NDA founded 55 year ago, will remain true to this mission to produce educated and honourable men and women, by providing them with military training and the studies of a full first degree, with emphasis placed on the qualities of discipline, honour, integrity, and responsibility”.

According to him, it has become abundantly clear that recruiting and training quality cadets who can balance the four aspects of NDA training, is a vital prerequisite to the success of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) while reminding that the four aspects of NDA training are: military, academic, moral and discipline.

Speaking further, the new Commandant stressed that it is the responsibility of the military and academic faculty of the Academy, to detect mistakes, to attempt to correct them and to provide fair punishment including dismissal and withdrawal for cadets who do not respond to correction.

He continued: “You should correct those who are amenable to correction and weed out those you find incorrigible, those who refuse to imbibe the qualities of the officer-scholar. If you succeed in so doing, you would have made a great contribution to a foundation upon which the cadets of today can build for tomorrow. If you allow any sub-standard product to graduate, for whatever reason, you would have betrayed our trust, you would not have done your duty and possibly with disastrous consequences for our dear country later.

“This academy is a factory to manufacture future military leaders. And in this factory, you the military and academic staff are Quality Control. I want you to remember that as you continue to do the wonderful job you are currently doing in moulding these cadets.”

“But as the saying goes, many will be called, but few will be chosen. To succeed at NDA, you must forge a strong academic foundation and military discipline, because a disciplined life, academic success, physical fitness, moral rectitude, and an aptitude for leadership and responsibility will be the framework for future success as an officer. Our eyes will be upon you, to make sure that no sub-standard product escapes through the cracks. Should we find any of the necessary qualities of an officer and a gentleman missing in you, make no mistake about it, you will not graduate.”

“So now, just so that we are all clear and there is no ambiguity, what are my expectations in terms of cadet conduct? Strict military discipline should guide your every action during your time not only at NDA, but in every facet of your life. I expect cadets to conduct themselves as men and women of character at all times. Exemplary conduct both at, and away from the Academy reflects credit on the cadet, the Academy and the AFN. Conduct unbecoming of a cadet is any behaviour which compromises, or can reasonably be expected to compromise, the character of the cadet, or the name and reputation of the Academy. Unacceptable conduct of a cadet may result in dismissal or other disciplinary action on a case-by case basis.”

Sarham also had some words of caution to the parents who have made it a habit of interfering with the disciplinary decisions of NDA leadership.

He said: “With respect, during my tenure, as it used to be in the days of yore, no parent will be allowed to interfere in the well tried and well tested NDA disciplinary process involving any cadet- A process that has seen NDA for 55 years producing quality products. It is the cadet that should endeavour to rise to the well-known NDA standards but the academy will not lower its standards to subsidize any cadet’s misbehaviour. Each reported case of indiscipline will be treated objectively and with professional detachment and the appropriate sanction meted.

“The NDA Code of Conduct outlines the regulations governing the life of cadets in NDA and provide broad guideline for cadet standards and conduct as well as introduce both cadets and their parents to the complexities of military life. Parents must understand that compliance with the NDA Code is a condition of remaining a cadet. To the parents, I say, while we prepare your son or daughter to join the ranks of the prestigious officers of the AFN, please keep in mind that NDA is an Academy of personal experience, and each cadet is responsible for navigating much of it on his or her own. I assure the parents of the cadets that NDA will do more than just take care of them, we will mould them to become disciplined military leaders, and equip them with the skills that are vital for their long-term success. What we will not do however, is to lower NDA age-old standards to allow undisciplined cadets to escape through the cracks. I will also resist any attempt to interfere in purely disciplinary matters or attempts to put my staff under any pressure over cadet matters.”

“While I am excited to have the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and help the process move forward, as the new commandant of this Academy, let me proclaim this: I am declaring a war on indiscipline. I expect everyone under my jurisdiction, especially the cadets we are moulding to toe the line. If as a cadet you are not willing to live under NDA rules and regulations then you better leave. There is no place for you in this Academy and I mean business. The culture of impunity or a slap on the wrist for cadets that have committed serious offences must be replaced by a culture where only those cadets who abide by the rules graduate. Nobody’s hard work will be used to subsidize another person’s incompetence. Military discipline is what stands this academy’s products apart from those of conventional universities. By God’s grace it will not be under my tenure that substandard undisciplined cadets will graduate.”

NDA Commandant, Maj-Gen. Jamil Sarham

Read the full statement:

COMMANDANT NDA MAJOR-GENERAL J SARHAM’s MAIDEN SPEECH TO FACULTY, INSTRUCTORS AND CADETS 28 NOVEMBER 2019


PROTOCOL


INTRODUCTION

  1. It is a great honour for me to be here today at the Nigerian Defence Academy as the 27th Commandant of this great institution. I am excited, humbled, and honoured to be back at my alma mater, an alma mater I love and am very proud of. I am very thankful for the trust and confidence bestowed on me by my superiors by my appointment. I shall not betray that trust. NDA is one of the foundational keystones of our nation, and to join you here as the Commandant, to mould future military leaders for Nigeria, is a great privilege that comes with a heavy responsibility, a responsibility I intend to fully discharge.
  2. While many institutions have impressive graduates, few can claim to have a greater impact on our nation than the NDA. Counted among some of the finest alumni of this Academy are several Service Chiefs and international peacekeeping forces commanders. I for example would never have imagined, ladies and gentlemen, when I joined this same NDA at the age of 19, in January 1984, that someday I would be standing here as the Commandant; nor can you cadets here anticipate where you will be many years from now. A future Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, or Chief of Air Staff may very well be in this hall.
  3. This being my assumption speech, I decided to have an enlarged audience comprising all NDA stakeholders -Military Instructors, academic faculty members, support staff, and cadets. This is so that everybody knows where everybody stands. I have specific massages for each group, groups which together have played, and will continue to play, very important roles in ensuring that NDA accomplishes its mission.
  4. And what is the mission of NDA? Put Simply: NDA’s mission is to educate, train and inspire the officer cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honour, Discipline and Country, and fully prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the nation as officers in the AFN. Under my watch, NDA founded 55 year ago, will remain true to this mission to produce educated and honourable men and women, by providing them with military training and the studies of a full first degree, with emphasis placed on the qualities of discipline, honour, integrity, and responsibility.
  5. First, the Military Instructors and Academic Faculty. I deliberately put military instructors together with academic faculty because these two groups, with distinct roles, need to work collaboratively in order to get quality products out of this institution. The work of the two groups, are not by any means mutually exclusive but mutually reinforcing. Both are extraordinarily useful, one to develop the brain, the other to develop the brawn while both strive towards instilling discipline and moral character on the cadets. In line with the demands of modern warfare, and a move towards the modern officer being a soldier-scholar, NDA started running degree programmes for its cadets in 1984. Now, after 35 years of the great experiment, of balancing military and academic degree level training, from the feedback we are getting from the field, it has become abundantly clear that recruiting and training quality cadets who can balance the four aspects of NDA training, is a vital prerequisite to the success of the AFN. The four aspects of NDA training are military, academic, moral and discipline. At NDA, we do not, we cannot, have the luxury of choosing among these four aspects. We have to deal with them all – and you the military and academic faculties are a very important part of our plan to do so. Our products must exhibit, not only intellectual ability, but also give evidence that a potential officer has the discipline, persistence and stamina as well as perseverance and motivation to be an officer and a gentleman…a leader of men and, in whose hands the lives of many will be entrusted. While the responsibility is upon the Cadets to learn, it is the prime responsibility of the faculty to teach. It is your responsibility to know the cadets, learn their hopes and dreams and teach them the difference between a mistake and a lack of discipline. That is why you are here. That is why I am here. That is why everyone in this Academy is here. It is the responsibility of the military and academic faculty of the Academy, to detect mistakes, to attempt to correct them and to provide fair punishment including dismissal and withdrawal for cadets who do not respond to correction. You should correct those who are amenable to correction and weed out those you find incorrigible, those who refuse to imbibe the qualities of the officer-scholar. If you succeed in so doing, you would have made a great contribution to a foundation upon which the cadets of today can build for tomorrow. If you allow any sub-standard product to graduate, for whatever reason, you would have betrayed our trust, you would not have done your duty and possibly with disastrous consequences for our dear country later. This academy is a factory to manufacture future military leaders. And in this factory, you the military and academic staff are Quality Control. I want you to remember that as you continue to do the wonderful job you are currently doing in moulding these cadets.
  6. I now turn to the next group, the cadets. I know that life as a cadet has changed a lot since I last stepped out of this Academy as Second Lieutenant in 1987. But despite the changes which saw NDA being a degree awarding institution, one thing must be noted: NDA is still a military academy (as opposed to a Military University). There are certain things that should remain constant in any military academy no matter the age. Let me remind you what life as a cadet in a military academy is, or should be. Being a cadet at the Nigerian Defence Academy is more than simply being a university student. As a cadet, you receive world-class leadership development and education from the first day you arrive until the day you graduate. We will train you to become effective leaders in the AFN. Your leadership training will revolve around personal development, followership, and peer leadership with progressive leadership responsibilities beginning as a First Termer, with very little leadership responsibility maybe Parade State boy or Course Senior, which enables you to focus on your studies. Your leadership responsibilities will increase as you progress, maybe to become a Cdt Cpl or Cdt Sgt, until you become a final year cadet holding an appointment or not, responsible for other junior cadet. But in return for this training you must surrender your body and soul to military and academic instructors. You must be disciplined.
  7. NDA is highly selective, enrolling only the most promising young men and women with a high degree of extraordinary leadership potential. Those chosen are among the finest young people in Nigeria, and you should be proud to have been chosen. But as the saying goes, many will be called, but few will be chosen. To succeed at NDA, you must forge a strong academic foundation and military discipline, because a disciplined life, academic success, physical fitness, moral rectitude, and an aptitude for leadership and responsibility will be the framework for future success as an officer. Our eyes will be upon you, to make sure that no sub-standard product escapes through the cracks. Should we find any of the necessary qualities of an officer and a gentleman missing in you, make no mistake about it, you will not graduate.
  8. So now, just so that we are all clear and there is no ambiguity, what are my expectations in terms of cadet conduct? Strict military discipline should guide your every action during your time not only at NDA, but in every facet of your life. I expect cadets to conduct themselves as men and women of character at all times. Exemplary conduct both at, and away from the Academy reflects credit on the cadet, the Academy and the AFN. Conduct unbecoming of a cadet is any behaviour which compromises, or can reasonably be expected to compromise, the character of the cadet, or the name and reputation of the Academy. Unacceptable conduct of a cadet may result in dismissal or other disciplinary action on a case-by case basis.
  9. Which brings me to the very important issue of, discipline. Let me tell you my stand on discipline: I hate indiscipline. As a product of this same illustrious Academy, I would be tone deaf if I say I am not aware of some of the unsavoury things currently going on in NDA today. Things like cadets going on AWOL and re-jabbed, cadets engaging in examination malpractices, sexual misconduct, substance abuse, cadets fighting and disrespecting officers and parents interfering in disciplinary or academic issues. Such happenings, hitherto unheard of in the Academy, simply show that we must take a step back and ask ourselves, if really, we are developing the next crop of Nigeria’s military leaders in a manner that drives the importance of good character and discipline. We will be unforgiving for any dangerous and destructive behaviour from any cadet. An undisciplined cadet who presents a serious danger to self or others, or who substantially disrupts the learning environment, will be withdrawn. We may also engage in random drug testing to deal with issue of substance abuse. My red line as Commandant, will be cadets who exhibit indiscipline and who do not treat my military and academic staff with respect and dignity. Such cadets will have a very short stay in NDA. We have rules, and I will demand that each and every cadet abides by those rules. My staff and I, will accept nothing less than a wholehearted devotion to turning out officers who are worthy of being called NDA graduates as well as officers and gentlemen. The privilege to call yourself NDA officer- cadets and later NDA graduates must be earned —because it is not a title simply given.
  10. The next group I would like to address, even though they may not be here, but are nevertheless very important, is the parents of cadets. Times have indeed changed as in those days the only time that we see cadets’ parents was during Passing Out parades. But in line with the changing times, I need to engage with parents through both cadets and staff here. Cadets are challenged to successfully accomplish the academically, physically and morally demanding NDA training. While parents can be of great help to their sons or daughters through these challenging times at NDA, parents can also be a source of distraction to our mutually beneficial task of raising disciplined officers for the armed forces. Parents need to understand that when their wards, with the parents’ approval, decide to come to NDA, they are committing themselves to a life of discipline, regimentation, hard work, honesty and integrity. That decision is more than just a pursuit of higher education. They with their parents’ consent, have each chosen to serve their country as military officers. We do not take that decision lightly. At NDA, we support the AFN readiness by developing the leaders of character our armed forces need to fight and win our nation’s conflicts, leaders who are committed to the military and NDA values of duty, honour, and discipline. Each activity in the NDA training system builds toward a final outcome to assume officer leadership. Your sons and daughters will go through the most challenging leader development experience there is.
  11. They will receive top education, recognized nationally for excellence, along with robust and relevant military and physical training. But at the heart of everything we do is develop character and the moral-ethical attributes essential to good leadership, all of which is woven into every aspect of that 4-year experience. Naturally, some cadets will fall by the way side and NDA over the years has established strict and objective standards to first, detect those who are unable or refuse to uphold those standards; then to correct them by minor sanction; and should minor sanctions fail after multiple infractions, the sanction for the incorrigible ones is dismissal. So, when the commitment of a particular cadet is not complete, their stay at the Academy may be short in order not to let loose on the society and the AFN, an officer who would be a menace and a disgrace to the Academy. With respect, during my tenure, as it used to be in the days of yore, no parent will be allowed to interfere in the well tried and well tested NDA disciplinary process involving any cadet- A process that has seen NDA for 55 years producing quality products. It is the cadet that should endeavour to rise to the well-known NDA standards but the academy will not lower its standards to subsidize any cadet’s misbehaviour. Each reported case of indiscipline will be treated objectively and with professional detachment and the appropriate sanction meted. The NDA Code of Conduct outlines the regulations governing the life of cadets in NDA and provide broad guideline for cadet standards and conduct as well as introduce both cadets and their parents to the complexities of military life. Parents must understand that compliance with the NDA Code is a condition of remaining a cadet. To the parents, I say, while we prepare your son or daughter to join the ranks of the prestigious officers of the AFN, please keep in mind that NDA is an Academy of personal experience, and each cadet is responsible for navigating much of it on his or her own. I assure the parents of the cadets that NDA will do more than just take care of them, we will mould them to become disciplined military leaders, and equip them with the skills that are vital for their long-term success. What we will not do however, is to lower NDA age-old standards to allow undisciplined cadets to escape through the cracks. I will also resist any attempt to interfere in purely disciplinary matters or attempts to put my staff under any pressure over cadet matters.
  12. I will now turn inwards to myself as the Comdt of this great institution. The commandant plays a critical role in accomplishing the Academy’s mission of developing leaders of character. While I am excited to have the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and help the process move forward, as the new commandant of this Academy, let me proclaim this: I am declaring a war on indiscipline. I expect everyone under my jurisdiction, especially the cadets we are moulding to toe the line. If as a cadet you are not willing to live under NDA rules and regulations then you better leave. There is no place for you in this Academy and I mean business. The culture of impunity or a slap on the wrist for cadets that have committed serious offences must be replaced by a culture where only those cadets who abide by the rules graduate. Nobody’s hard work will be used to subsidize another person’s incompetence. Military discipline is what stands this academy’s products apart from those of conventional universities. By God’s grace it will not be under my tenure that substandard undisciplined cadets will graduate.
  13. I will be open to new ideas. Wherever I find myself, I have made it a priority at all levels to encourage thinking outside the box and to be open to new and innovative ways of operating. I find that it is the only way to be the best in a competitive world. I would like to hear from you. In order to keep NDA relevant and responsive, I need your input on where you think we can improve. Your voice matters.
  14. I intend to continue with the more than 55 years of tradition and build on that foundation left by my illustrious predecessors. If we create a positive change here and now, we may not see the effects of it until years down the road because it takes about 30 years to grow a general officer. Just remember that the quality of our products will be measured by their performance as disciplined officers and leaders of men to defend our dear country. Our Academy cannot be better than the cadets we produce. In the profession of arms, our ultimate goal is the model soldier-scholar, one who effectively blends the talents of an intellectual and a war fighter. Almost all military instructors here are products of this institution. I want you to ask yourselves, if this is the Academy of your fathers, the academy you attended. Surely you would want to make sure the younger generation you send into the officer corps is as good as you, and even better.
  15. I will insist on seeing outward signs of order and discipline. I expect cadets to salute officers and officers to salute in return – both in mutual confidence and respect. I want to see cadets march briskly, in squads taking steps. I want to see them jog, iron their uniforms and polish their shoes and belts. I encourage all staff to insist on good turn out and personal cleanliness. With the help of everybody, NDA training program will continue to develop well-educated leaders of character who embody the values of Honour, Courage, Integrity, Discipline and Selfless Service, are academically successful, and prepared for the leadership challenges of the 21st Century. It is pertinent that I acknowledge the current vibrancy of NDA Course Alumni groups which are springing up through WhatsApp groups. This is commendable. I consider such groups as a very good resource with which I will seek a cross fertilization of ideas to place NDA on a higher pedestal.
  16. Before I leave, NDA is guided by tradition. And in honour of all the past 26 Commandants on whose shoulders I stand today , from Brigadier M.R. Varma through to Major Generals Paul Tarfa, Lieutenant General Salihu Ibrahim, Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi and my immediate predecessor Major General A. Oyebade and all in between, I want to introduce one new tradition today: As the new commandant, I hereby grant amnesty to all cadets and condone all those who are on restriction or charged for minor , I repeat minor conduct offences. So, you all now have a clean slate in front of you, but it is your story to write. If you choose to follow the straight and narrow path on which my staff will put you, you will graduate to the pride of your parents. Conversely, if you choose to fall below NDA standards, we would have no hesitation in showing you the way out. The life of a cadet is one of self-denial, self-control, and strict discipline. Generations of cadets before you have discovered, it is possible not only to survive, but to thrive within these stone walls. I will paraphrase Napoleon Bonaparte and say to you, “ Every cadet carries a marshal’s baton in his pack “. I will also remind you of the words of the President and Commander in Chief . I will also remind you of the words of President and Commander in Chief during the graduation Passing out parade of Passing Out Parade of 63 Regular Course:
    “Therefore, as you step out of this noble institution, your character will determine how far you can go. Endeavour to be patriotic and exhibit the highest level of discipline and loyalty to one Nigeria. Above all you must strive to keep to the tenets of the profession by remaining apolitical. You are also required to exhibit the highest sense of integrity, patriotism and exemplary service to the nation and its people. Your parents, guardians and the nation in general have invested in you and it is payback time now. You are expected to serve this country selflessly with loyalty and integrity and set new records of gallantry in the defence of our dear nation as former cadets from this Academy have done and are still doing in various military campaigns within and outside our dear country.”
  17. Finally, I hereby direct that copies of this speech are made available to all who serve under me all staff and cadets. Just so that there is no ambiguity and there is no misunderstanding about the task at hand.
    I thank you all.


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