“Buhari’s presence at COAS burial would’ve boosted Morale” – Ex-military spokesman

Although former military spokesperson, Brigadier General Saliu Usman, said President Muhammadu Buhari’s absence at the burial of top military officials can be excused for cogent reasons, his presence could have boosted the morale of Nigerians and its gallant troops.

Usman made this known during a Channels TV programme, Politics Today, aired on Sunday. Ten people including the Chief of Army Staff, Ibrahim Attahiru died in a plane crash on Friday, while on an official trip to Kaduna state. They were laid to rest in a grand burial ceremony on Saturday.

President Buhari who doubles as the Commander in Chief of the armed forces and his vice, Yemi Osinbajo, were missing at the event, an action that has generated widespread criticism. Many argued that the absence of the President or his Vice sends a strong message of nonchalance to the gallant troops and its capable of demoralising them.

However, speaking on this during a Channels TV programme monitored by POLITICS NIGERIA, Usman said Mr Buhari’s absence can be excused because of cogent reasons.

“First and foremost, what I want you to understand is that even though there were credible information as to why that was so, but first and foremost, the Chief of Army staff and Senior Military Officers, Crews, and the pilots were given National burial.”

“And I understand that definitely their national burial wouldn’t have taken place without the instances and the approval of the president and commander-in-chief who can delegate authority, but I know at a trying moment like that, it will go a long way to get people a sense of belonging and boost morale,” the former military spokesperson said.

He, however, continued that sometimes people could be indisposed and they cannot attend events like that.

“I was made to understand actually. That the president usually before he goes out, there should be a proper arrangement in terms of security minimum of 24 hours. And unfortunately this time around it wasn’t so and basically that was the essence but I believe there could be more explanation,” Usman said.

He also believed there must have been a communication between the people and the government saying that the burial was done with the best of intention.

“I am so sure for the president to have appointed him Chief of Army Staff, he must have held him in close to his heart.”

He acknowledged that the President’s presence would have gone a long way to send a wonderful signal to men of the Nigerian Army

“… I know that the federal government was fully represented right from the members of the executive Council, the secretary to the government there. Well, I know that even this evening, the President’s wife was with the wife of the late chief of Army staff and the vice president’s wife too.”

“So basically, these are some of the issues. I think, the most important thing is you guys should investigate and find out exactly what happened and why? But at the same time, again, people should be forthcoming with information so that people will not misunderstand certain things as they happen,” Usman told the anchor.

Speaking further, the former military publicist said Nigerians should immortalise the deceased officers beyond the burial outing.

“We should rally round together to ensure that these Gallant chief of Army staff, his principal officers also that lost their lives in the cause of national Duty, you know, are immortalised,” Usman said.

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