1. I am honoured to be here at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College for the Graduation Ceremony of Senior Course 45.
2. The Command and Staff College is a bastion of learning and practice that opens the door of promise and future advance to mid-level officers of the Armed Forces. It prepares them for higher responsibility while ensuring the standardization of staff duties and functions throughout our Nigerian Armed Forces.
3. For the over 40 years since its establishment, this College has kept faith with excellence in military instruction and preparedness of our officer corps. You, the participants of Senior Course 45, have kept loyal to this outstanding tradition. We are proud of you for how far you have come. But much like our very nation, you still have far to go and more to prove.
4. On behalf of a grateful nation, I commend you for the service you have provided and for the greater contributions that await you in the future.
5. The Armed Forces Command and Staff College has been essential to the Armed Forces of Nigeria, especially in the professionalism and unwavering defence of our national interests exhibited by graduates of this College.
6. This Graduation is certainly an important milestone for the 291 officers graduating today. You have withstood the rigor of 48 challenging weeks of instruction and work. Again, I say to you, “congratulations.”
7. Because of its global renown, this College attracts officers from the armed forces of numerous friendly states.
8. Graduating today are students from Asia and our sister Africa nations.
9. Notwithstanding the demands of your training, I hope you have enjoyed our customary Nigerian friendliness as well because Nigeria is one of the most hospitable countries you can find. We have opened our arms like friends and brothers to you.
10. Your attendance at this College is testimony to our profound belief that national security is not solely achieved through muscle and might but also in building friendships and alliances based on cooperation, justice, good governance and mutual respect. As you return home, remember that you also have a home in Nigeria. May the ties of brotherhood and peaceful accord always bind our respective nations.
11. To the graduating students from Nigeria’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies, you have warranted the confidence of your respective organizations. The knowledge gained here will prove invaluable in our mission to harmonize all aspects of government policy and programs toward the twin goals of national security and national prosperity. Congratulations to you!
12. I also commend the spouses and families of all the graduates. Without your understanding and support, today’s celebration would not be possible.
13. At this moment, please permit me to offer a few comments about the world and the challenges we face.
14. We live in a moment of flux. Geopolitical change is afoot. Old alliances and assumptions are being tested as new ones are being shaped. Trade and global economic activity are fast yet fragile and easily disrupted by war, weather or pandemic.
15. Underlying it all is the often unspoken but urgent competition for precious resources. Water, food, gold, oil and other items have all been placed in contest.
16. In too many instances, the contest turns violent. Areas that should blossom into economic prosperity and hope become factories of pillage and oppression.
17. In Africa, this condition is perhaps our greatest challenge and harshest injustice.
18. Your role combating this grave evil is crucial. For we call on you to defend not only our land and resources but our people and their democratic existence.
19. The serious national security challenges we face today are asymmetric and trans-national. Expanding non-state actors stalk our continent, searching for nations to plunder and people to oppress. Everyday these malign actors hold sway over even an inch of African territory takes us a day farther away from our intended and best destiny.
20. I mention these things because I know your training here was not the stuff of abstract or classical instruction. Your training was sculpted to fit the imperatives of our times.
21. This new generation of threats demands that African countries work together as never before. In this regard, the multinational collaboration of Nigeria, Cameroun, the Niger Republic and Chad to bring peace to Lake Chad region is an example that must be improved by all means and replicated wherever necessary.
22. We must also be brave enough to reform military doctrine and practice. We do not face a conventional army on the traditional field of battle.
23. No, we contend against mobile, elusive irregular forces that disdain the normal rules of warfare.
24. We must adjust accordingly to subdue the menace. This shall require a change in mindset, in strategy, in tactics in equipment and in gear.
25. But our strategic objective – the democratic tranquility and prosperity of our nation – shall never change.
26. As Commander-in-Chief, I have given myself the following charge: to deploy the entire machinery of state power to ensure security of our people and property in a just and democratic society.
27. Under my predecessor, the Armed Forces worked tirelessly toward necessary reforms to enhance combat effectiveness and operational capability. We must now pick up the pace.
28. My government will provide the necessary support.
29. This College is doing its part by upgrading facilities to provide an environment fit for purpose. The College’s curricula has been sharpened to focus on the critical knowledge and skills officers will need to face contemporary national security challenges. These efforts sustain the College as a military training institution of excellent reputation. I, therefore, commend the College Board as well as the Commandant and staff for their achievements. My government will continue to support the College by giving due priority to the training and welfare of our Armed Forces.
30. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let me now return to the graduates we honour today. I leave you with a charge much like the one I gave myself. Your nation has invested much in your training. Much faith has been placed upon your broad shoulders. Our collective safety rests in your hands.
31. We believe in you because we know you possess the sufficiency of character and skill to see us through.
32. Your graduation today is a call to greater duty for the nation you love. May you stand brave and unwavering in the discharge of your constitutional responsibilities and may you always do honour to the sterling name of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College.
33. On this note, I again congratulate the Commandant and his team. I also congratulate your families and share in their pride at your successful completion of the Senior Staff Course.
34. And may I finally say this. Your career will be one of a series of challenges to face and to conquer. There will be times that seem daunting.
35. Remember that you are not alone.
36. Storms will come but they shall also clear.
37. Remember the faith, love and gratitude of an entire nation are with you. You are the strong line of defence for over 200 million souls.
38. My friends, my dear officers, you are the best of us, and we are with you.
39. Thus, let us join in singular purpose so that we shall go down in history as ushering our beloved country to its rightful place of peace, prosperity and justice.
40. Thank you all for listening and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.