Former Head of State, Gen. Gowon, COAS, Others Highlight Enduring Lessons of Nigerian Civil War at Army War College Symposium Course 8/2024 Participants

The Dynamics of Leadership and Decision Making During the Nigerian Civil War: Lessons for Operational Level Commanders of the Nigerian Army. This theme for the symposium organised by the Army War College Nigeria (AWCN) for participants of COURSE 8/2024 was extensively discussed. 

The Special Guest of Honour, a former Head of State,  His Excellency, General Yakubu Gowon, GCFR emphasized the enduring significance of the Nigerian Civil War. 

General Gowon 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. 

Reflecting on his experiences as Head of State during the unrestrained period, General Gowon said, the Nigerian Civil War remains a crucial part of Nigeria history, with profound lessons for 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." 

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

While declaring the Fifth Edition of the Army College Nigeria Symposium on the Nigerian Civil War 2024 open and delivering his keynote address the Chief Host, Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja, ably represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans (Army) Major General Abdulsalam Ibrahim underscored the critical role of leadership at all levels of warfare, especially at the operational level. 

The Army Chief said the operational level leader must be adept in operational art. He noted thst with advancements in military science and technology, there was a misconception to downplay the study of military history and 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."

Lt General Lagbaja emphasized 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.

Lieutenant General Lagbaja highlighted that the achievements of the Nigerian Army in various operations would not have been possible without the President's continued support.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Commandant of AWCN, Major General Ishaya Maina, highlighted the symposium's inclusion in the Military History module to learn from the past. 

He stated that, "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 caliber of resource persons, the experienced panel of discussants, and the distinguished audience for their contributions.

Professor Shedrack Gaya Best, Vice Chancellor of Plateau State University (Bokkos) presented his lecture in line with the theme of the symposium “The Dynamics of Leadership and Decision-Making in the Nigerian Civil War: Lessons for Operational Level Commanders,"

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. He thanked 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.

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