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What are Dan Ali’s achievements?

What are Dan Ali’s achievements?
December 25
09:30 2018


When in November 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari named retired Brig.Gen Mansur Dan Ali as his defence minister I was somewhat at a loss. I was at a loss for two reasons. One was the fact that the name does not ring a bell in complex military operations or counterinsurgency operations, and two was also the fact that Nigeria was in a precarious security situation with the Boko Haram insurgents gaining more and more grounds in northeast Nigeria. I doubted it was a good choice. And three years down the line that position hasn’t changed, but further enhanced.

In my curiosity, I carried out covert research on the personality of the defence minister and his contributions to lasting peace in Nigeria. And guess what? My research bounced because there was nothing spectacular throughout his career that spanned 29 years. In the interim, here was the few I was able to scope about our defence minister.

“Dan Ali was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Nigerian Army in 1984 through the Short Service Commission at the Nigerian Defence Academy. Dan-Ali served in different command and staff capacities, some of which include commanding the Nigerian contingent supporting the United Nations Africa Hybrid Mission in Sudan. Dan Ali was on the Directing Staff of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji from 2003 -2005 and was Chief Instructor (CI) at the Nigerian Defence Academy in 2010. He was also Acting Director Military Training before getting posted to the Ministry of Defence’s Logistics Department as Deputy Director. He retired from the Nigerian Army on August 30, 2013.”


I was therefore not surprised by the way he has carried on with his duty as the defence minister. I dare say since the inception of democratic rule in Nigeria in 1999, Mansur Dan Ali is the most out of tune defence minister that the country has produced. I stand to be corrected. Else, how does one explain the manner he has carried on since 2015? How could one also justify the rampant killings in his home state of Zamfara? I would draw a hasty conclude here.

And the conclusion is that it is one thing to know what is expected of you and it is another thing to have the capacity to deliver. In the case of the defence minister, I think it’s a mixture not knowing what to do and also not having the intellectual ability to perform in the critical security sector. This is at variance with other climes where the defence minister manages all branches of the Armed Forces to maintain a modern, competent, and professional military force for the protection of the national territory.

But the case of Nigeria has been different. So much so that one is tempted to ask what are Dan Ali’s achievements since he assumed political leadership of the Defence ministry? Has he demonstrated a commitment to the entrenchment of peace in all parts of the country? Has he carried on with so much vigour that speaks volume of the sensitive office he occupies? Has he risen above sentiments in the discharge of his responsibilities as defence minister? Has he been able to galvanize the various services of the armed forces into greater productivity? The answers are resounding no.


As despicable as this might sound, it is the stark reality on the ground and further emphasizes why it is necessary to always put round pegs in round holes in sensitive government positions. I make bold to say that Mansur Dan-Ali is a square peg in a round hole hence the lack of a clear-cut policy direction from the defence ministry as regards the various security challenges confronting the country.

The best that can be ascribed to him is the issuance of press statements on casualty figures either in North East Nigeria and even in his home state of Zamfara. This is what the office of the minister of defence has been reduced to. I dare say that as one that is conversant with the operations of the military, if not for the efforts of the Chief of Defence Staff and other service chiefs, that decided to take initiatives, Nigeria would have long been consumed.

I also know that since 2015, not one strategic policy directive has emanated from the Office of the Defence Minister. So much so that it is not a norm for the defence minister to order the service chiefs to relocate to the battlefront as if that what is needed to achieve victory. But again, this is understandable because you cannot give what you don’t have.

Also, looking at the critical area of equipping the Armed Forces with the needed weaponry which falls under the purview of the defence minister, what has he done? I recall sometime in November when the People’s Democratic Party accused the minister of defence of using monies meant for arms procurement for other purposes. The PDP also accused Mansur Dan-Ali of being insensitive to the plight of the soldiers waging war against Boko Haram in the North-East.


And only recently, a group, Security Watch International, accused the Minister of Defence, of influencing the deployment of military checkpoints around his house in Zamfara State in the face of raging banditry in the state. The group stated that the minister was only concerned about his personal security hence the deployment of checkpoints around his house while the state was on fire.

If this is not a shame, I don’t know what to call it. It just goes a long way to state the obvious. And the obvious is that Mansur Dan-Ali has done little or nothing as Nigeria’s defence minister. So much so that I dare ask: What are Dan-Ali’s achievements?

Ijeh is a security analyst based in Lagos.


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