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Gowon reiterates importance of leadership, decision making in conflict times

By Linus Aleke, Abuja

The wartime Head of State in Nigeria, General Yakubu Gowon (Rtd), has reiterated the importance of leadership and decision-making in times of conflict.

Nigeria’s former Head of State, reaffirmed the importance of quality leadership, and decision-making in times of conflict, while, reflecting on his experiences as Head of State during the Nigerian – Biafran war.

General Gowon, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the Army War College Nigeria (AWCN), Fifth Edition of the Nigerian Civil War (NCW) Symposium, in Abuja, yesterday, also, emphasized the enduring significance of the Nigerian Civil War.

The Army War College Nigeria (AWCN), in a statement, said the symposium is an integral part of Module Six military history of the AWCN curriculum, which provides a platform for presentations and discussions on the Nigerian Civil War.

Held at the TY Buratai Auditorium in Asokoro Abuja, the theme for the symposium was “The Dynamics of Leadership and Decision Making During the Nigerian Civil War: Lessons for Operational Level Commanders.”

Speaking at the academic event, the former Head of State, said: “The Nigerian Civil War remains a crucial part of our history, with profound lessons for us all. As someone who served as Head of State during this unstable period, I can attest to the complexities and challenges we faced. Reflecting on those experiences, I am reminded of the critical importance of leadership and decision-making in times of conflict”.

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General Gowon, also highlighted key lessons from the war, such as the importance of unity, and ethical leadership.

He stressed that these lessons are not confined to the past but are essential for enhancing current and future military operations.

The wartime leader, encouraged participants, particularly operational-level commanders, to internalize these lessons, fostering a sense of duty, patriotism, and commitment to national unity and peace.

The Chief Host, and Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja, underscored the critical role of leadership at all levels of warfare, especially at the operational level.

Represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans (Army), Major General Abdulsalam Ibrahim, the COAS said: “The operational level leader must be adept in operational art. With advancements in military science and technology, there was a misconception to downplay the study of military history and the development of operational art. However, experiences have shown that the outcome of warfare is determined by intangible factors such as leadership, intellect, morale, and courage”.

General Lagbaja, said that leadership is the first pillar of his command philosophy, which is “To Transform the Nigerian Army into a Well-Trained, Equipped and Highly Motivated Force Towards Achieving Our Constitutional Responsibilities Within a Joint Environment”.

He expressed confidence that the symposium would significantly contribute to developing leadership qualities in participants and enhance the successes of Nigerian troops in various theatres of operation.

The COAS, expressed profound gratitude to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for his unwavering guidance and support to the Nigerian Army, attributing the recorded successes to this invaluable backing.

He noted that the achievements of the Nigerian Army in various operations would not have been possible without the President’s continued support.

The Commandant of AWCN, Major General Ishaya Maina, highlighted the symposium’s inclusion in the Military History module to learn from the past.

He said, “The symposium provides an avenue to academically dissect the tactical, operational, and strategic activities of the Nigerian Civil War for better comprehension of battlefield events and outcomes. This brings out useful lessons that could assist in addressing contemporary security threats facing the nation”.

Major General Maina noted the deliberate choice of the theme, aligning with the leadership pillar of the Chief of Army Staff’s Command Philosophy.

He praised the calibre of resource persons, the experienced panel of discussants, and the distinguished audience for their contributions.

The symposium featured a lecture on “The Dynamics of Leadership and Decision-Making in the Nigerian Civil War: Lessons for Operational Level Commanders,” delivered by Professor Shedrack Gaya Best, Vice Chancellor of Plateau State University (Bokkos).

Professor Best’s lecture provided in-depth insights into the critical aspects of leadership and decision-making during the Civil War, offering valuable lessons for current and future military leaders.

In his vote of thanks, the Deputy Commandant and Director of Studies AWCN Brigadier General Aminu Umar expressed heartfelt gratitude to all who contributed to the success of the event.

General Umar applauded the SGOH, the Chief Host, the guest speakers and resource persons for sharing their knowledge and insights, acknowledging the effort and preparation invested in the symposium.

The College’s statement concluded that the event ended with the presentation of souvenirs to the distinguished guests and speakers, symbolizing the appreciation of their contributions.

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