Source: Sun news online
Photo: Sun News Publishing
For Colonel Clement Temidayo Olukoju, who graduated in August from the National Defence College (NDC), as second best in the order of merit and was first to win the only award from the Brazilian Government on best project on science and technology, there is nothing challenging and risky in the military like attending the course in the college.
Olukoju told Daily Sun in Abuja, that initially, when he was shortlisted for the course, he was reluctant about participating in view of the risk of failing and retiring as a Colonel. However, he said he had no choice but to summon the courage and be determined to excel since this was a major requirement for all senior military officers, who aspired to attain that rank of a general or its equivalent in other services.
He observed that attending select foreign courses or the prestigious National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Jos, Plateau State, appeared to be better alternatives to the NDC, which was most challenging and risky. He said the rule was clear that any officer, who failed the course, would never taste that top rank in the military as the officer risked retiring at the rank with which he attended the NDC.
Before Olukoju was shortlisted for the course, he was Commander, 55 Signals Command, Nigerian Army, Apapa, Lagos. Although he was hopeful to attend an oversea course, which was earlier available to him as a quick and easy alternative, he was, however, shocked when the alternative slipped off his hands and he was shortlisted for the supposed most challenging and risky NDC course.
As a good Christian, he was timely to remember from the Holy Bible that, all things work together for good to them that love God. He immediately became thankful to God for placing it upon the heart of the Chief of Army Staff, who approved his participation in a course that would aid his career fulfillment.
Having been at the college in Abuja for close to one year, the Colonel is now full of experiences and excitements of self-actualisation as he explained that this was about the highest of military courses as the college was a place for building strategic leaders to handle sensitive national issues:
“This course is meant for training of strategic leaders in any country, in any armed forces of a country. When it is your turn to be selected for such training, you are selected. Those selections are from all the services, including some strategic departments in the country.
“We had participants from the army, navy, air force, sister African countries as well as some ministries, departments and agencies. Selection is based on merit. There is a process for selection, which each service often conducts. When you go through those screenings, you are selected, then you come for the course.
“Defence College is a place where you train strategic leaders of every nation. You are trained on various courses like national security and statecrafts. You know much about your country, strategically, you will now be able to be placed in such a way that you can contribute to the development of the nation in whichever appointment that you are given. That is the essence of the course. To build you to be able to face those challenges that would require you to contribute your own quota to the development of the nation.
“The course is loaded, very challenging and needs determination and zeal for you to pass through it. This is one of the requirements for you to earn the rank of a brigadier-general. You either go through this or NIPPS. The Nigerian Army has given me the opportunity to attend the course and in my redeployment, it is expected, that based on the experiences I have gathered on the course and the training I have acquired, I should be able to surmount any challenges in terms of national security.
“I am now better positioned to give the right advice in enhancing national-building.
You are opportuned to learn about the in and out of this nation, economically, security wise, statecraft these are areas where you are taught. We had eminent resource persons that came to lecture us and we conducted exercises that would put us in the right frame of mind when we are given such assignments in the future.
“This was the most challenging aspect of my career in terms of all the courses that I have attended. I have had the opportunity to be in five universities in my life but this is the most challenging because this is where you know your purpose for joining the military more.
“I feel fulfilled more than ever before. Not assuming I did not go for the course, I would not say I am fulfilled to be in the military. Now that I have done the course, I give thanks to the Chief of Army Staff for giving us the opportunity to do the course because if we were not selected, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to attend the course. Even if you retire, what you have learnt here will be useful to you to contribute to nation- building if opportunities are there.”
Since the colonel proceeded to the NDC despite his initial anxiety, he took no chances so as not to jeopardise his chances of becoming a general. His commitment to study earned him the second in the order of merit. He won the Minister of Defence’s award, while his counterpart, who came first, won the President and Commander-In-Chief’s award. The third won the Chief of Defence Staff’s award out of 128 participants that graduated from the course.
Apart from this award, Olukoju was given awards by the Brazilian Government and the college for presenting the best paper in Science and Technology: “Nigerian Space Programme: Challenges and Prospects,” and would give a copy to the National Agency in charge of space development to study the recommendations to see how to enrich the nation’s space programmes.
Olukoju said that he joined the Nigerian Army in 1984 as a member the 35th Regular Course in the Nigerian Defence Academy and was commissioned in 1986 as a second lieutenant into the Corps of Signals. He became a lieutenant in 1988 and in 1992, became a captain, 1997 became a major, in 2002, a lieutenant colonel, in 2007, a colonel, and hopefully, with his successful completion of this NDC course, he said he was on his way to becoming a brigadier-general in 2012.
By UBONG UKPONG, Abuja