For many, Abalti Barracks in Lagos would be remembered for two main events: the attack on Fela’s shrine in the 1980s and the attack on the Nigeria Police Force Area C, in most recent times.
That image of Abalti Barracks, it was learnt, has gone with history. Today, the military base is a very quiet environment in the busy Ojuelegba area in Lagos.
When the hierarchy of the Nigerian Army arrived at the barracks recently, they were amazed at the transformation going on within the complex.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, and his entourage met the officers and men whose morale had been lifted at the Nigerian Army Ordnance Corps in the barracks as they commissioned new structures that would boost welfare and ensure job satisfaction for the personnel of the corps.
It is naturally the expectation of any person that soldiers, who are mainly responsible for the overall protection of the nation from foreign aggression, would be provided with befitting accommodation that would enable them to concentrate on the defence of the country. But for a long time in the past, it was not the case for men of the Nigerian Army Ordnance Corps in the barracks, as they had to manage under some colonial structures and buildings not good enough to ensure job satisfaction.
Indeed, the Abalti Barracks, which housed the Nigerian Army Ordnance Corps Headquarters, has removed the toga of conflict for which it was earlier known and has put on a friendlier outfit, especially with the erection of new buildings that have given the barracks an excellent and more receptive look.
The buildings include some transit accommodation, particularly, the Colonel Nebo hall, which had been in a dilapidated state until the present leadership of the corps decided to tackle the problems of dilapidated structures in the corps.
The commander of the Nigerian Army Ordnance Corps, Major General Joel Unuigbe, told Daily Sun that the the corps had the Chief of Army Staff to thank for the erection of the new structures arising at the corps headquarters and the reconstruction of other buildings. He confirmed that the corps had never had it so good, noting that the Army Chief had constantly reached out to the corps in terms of welfare.
He explained that the transformation started with his predecessor who presented the Army Chief with a request for the construction of an ultramodern Nigerian Army Ordnance Corps Headquarters
He said the project was completed within a short time after it was approved and that at the time of commissioning, General Buratai observed the dilapidated Colonel Nebo Hall located in front of the new office complex and called for its reconstruction to enable it stay in sync with the new structure in the complex.
General Unuigbe said General Buratai never stopped, as he continued to express his special affection for the corps with the approval of the construction of an 18×1 bedroom flat for transit accommodation, and another six units of two bedroom flats located behind the corps headquarters.
Structures springing up inside what many know today as Abalti Barracks, it was learnt, is in line with General Buratai’s vision of creating a conducive working and living environment for the force’s personnel. It was also to help them to professionally discharge their statutory responsibility of protecting the country against external attacks
Indeed, the new transit accommodation, General Unuigbe said, will greatly improve the comfort of officers, thereby enhancing their capability to perform their constitutional role.
Apart from the transit accommodation, three modern explosive store houses and an administrative building for 7 Base Ordnance Depot of the corps and other sheds for ammunition at the 7 Division’s area of responsibilities.
The essence of these ammunition silos, it was learnt, was to enhance the capacity of the corps at providing logistics for personnel fighting in the North East.
General Unuigbe said the corps has benefitted immensely from the large heart of General Buratai, especially in training where several members of the corps have been trained abroad and many more are in various developed countries where they are being trained as specialists in ordnance matters.
He said: “On capacity development, the corps has benefitted immensely from overseas training more than any time in her recent history as several NAOC officers have been trained while others are currently in different developed countries on various ordnance courses.”
General Buratai was happy that his vision for the force was being achieved and for the first time he was witnessing this at the Nigerian Army Ordnance Corps headquarters.
He commended the corps and its leadership for keying into this vision, but called on officers and men of NAOC to exhibit absolute loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari especially as the election draws near.
General Buratai warned that Nigerian Army personnel must do everything within their powers to ensure the success of February 2019 elections and the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria.
Buratai who was represented by Chief of Logisitics Nigerian Army, Major General Enobong Udoh said: “The coming weeks and months in the transition process will surely demand for absolute loyalty, commitment to duty, vigilance and steadfastness on our part. For this reason, all hands must be on deck to ensure the success of elections for the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria.
“Let me reiterate the resolve of the Nigerian Army to upholding professionalism, excellent civil military relationship and adherence to rule of law in the course of our engagements.”
He lamented the dilapidated nature of some barracks across the country, sayng the situation was unfortunate.
“But over the years you can see the state of dilapidation and state of decay in the barracks. The soldiers are staying in very bad accommodation, it is unfortunate but these are just the measures that we are taking to address the situation and we will continue to solicit for more support from government.”
The Chief of Army Staff said the present Army administration was looking inward to find solutions to the infrastructure decay in the barracks and assured soldiers and officers of the present administration’s commitment to improve the welfare of their families at all times.
He said that the Nigerian Army had made tremendous achievements in its operations around the six geo-political zones, adding that the Nigerian Army would continue to provide aid to the civil authorities to enhance a stable environment which is necessary for good governance to thrive.
The Army Chief said the force has resolved to address infrastructure decay across Nigerian Army formations, schools and barracks, pointing out that the provision of adequate and befitting accommodation was aimed at improving personnel welfare.
He said that the launch of Exercise Egwu Eke III was to reassure Nigerians of the responsiveness and resolve of the force in collaboration with other security and paramilitary agencies to providing adequate security and safety, even as the 2019 election draws near.