Three years after the last Armed Forces Council meeting in 2014, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday presided over the first council meeting since he came on board as a civilian president.
The meeting was symbolic because it took place at his main office at the Presidential, Villa, Abuja, which he had abandoned since he returned from his medical vacation in London, United Kingdom, following allegation of rodents taking over the office.
Recall that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu had explained that because of the invasion of rodents in President Buhari’s office, repair works by Julius Berger were ongoing.
The development forced the President to be using one of the smaller offices in the Villa for official engagements. Reacting to online media reports that Buhari had not used the office for 81 days, the President’s Personal Assistant on New Media/Engagement Unit, Bashir Ahmed, confirmed the resumption of work at the main office, through his twitter handle @BashirAhmaad.
This is in addition to release of photographs of Buhari presiding over the Armed Forces Council meeting at the main office, indicating that repair works had been completed by construction firm managing infrastructure works at the Villa, Julius Berger.
It was rumoured that the President was avoiding the main office to allow ‘spiritual cleansing’ which some had attributed to be the root cause of his ailment.
However, a statement issued by Col. T. U. Gusau, the Public Relations Officer to the Minister of Defence Mansur Dan-Ali, after the Armed Forces meeting stated that the meeting considered the ratifications of the National Defence Policy 2017 (Revised); Harmonized Terms and Conditions of Service Officers 2017 (Revised); and Harmonized Terms and Condition of Service Soldiers/Ratings/Airmen 2017 (Revised) amongst others. Col. Gusau explained that the ratifications were deemed necessary in view of contemporary security challenges and to enhance welfare, command, discipline and administration of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
According to the statement: “The Armed Forces Council was established by CAP A20 of Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and Section 4 of the Armed Forces Act to among other things be responsible under the general authourity of Mr President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces for command, discipline and administration of, and for all other matters related to the Armed Forces.
“The last Armed Forces Council Meeting was held on 17 July 2014 during the last administration and there was therefore the need to convene the Armed Forces Council Meeting in order to consider matters of great concern to the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“In line with the above, His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR inaugurated the Armed Forces Council today 9 November 2017 at the State House, Abuja to consider matters of great concern to the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Some of the matters considered include the ratifications of the National Defence Policy 2017 (Revised), Harmonized Terms and Conditions of Service Officers 2017 (Revised) and Harmonized Terms and Condition of Service Soldiers/Ratings/Airmen 2017 (Revised) amongst others.
“Considering several transformations in terms of development as well as security challenges that have taken place in Nigeria, it is believed that the ratification of these documents will enable the Armed Forces cope with the ever changing contemporary security challenges.
“It will also help to enhance welfare, command, discipline and administration of the Armed Forces as well as policy framework governing the conduct of security and defence in Nigeria.”
The meeting was attended by Dan-Ali; Chief of Defence Staff and service chiefs of the Army, Navy and Airforce.
It will be recalled that the last time the Armed Forces Council meeting held was in July 2014, under former President Goodluck Jonathan.