Page 59 - Cormorant 2019
P. 59

  PAGE 57
  Our afternoon at the NARC involved a Q&A with several high ranking Nigerian Army officers and academics from the think-tank function of the NARC. A visit to the Nigerian Army Museum offered a rich insight into the genesis of the modern day Nigerian military. Surprisingly, the Royal Navy played a formative role when Lt Glover selected eighteen men from the Hausa tribe to undertake punitive operations in the Lagos hinterland...almost a Nigerian Royal Marine cadre.
Day four dawned bright but we were up before the sun. Our trip today would be to the BMATT training location at Jaji, the Nigerian Army School of Infantry. It took four hours to drive non-stop from central Abuja to Jaji. The main Abuja to Kaduna highway is one of the world’s most dangerous stretches of road, thanks to a spate of kidnappings. Consequently, we were escorted by 12 armed Marines and a helicopter. After four bone-shaking hours in the mini bus were
all happy to alight at Jaji and listen to several briefs on the School of Infantry and the BMATT mission, currently being undertaken by 2 LANCS. The Nigerian soldiers undertaking training would be the next unit to deploy to the North East and face Boko Haram.
We then headed to a DfID project within Kaduna City. This delivered training in areas such as hospitality, carpentry, IT and office skills. Some graduates
from the centre (locally known as the Mafita Project) spoke of the benefits of attending the courses. Some had found employment, though not all, and we were acutely aware that the number of places available was vastly outstripped by the proportion
of unemployed youth. Lunch was taken in the Governor’s Residence, an oasis of calm amid the hubbub of Kaduna; the highlight was undoubtedly seeing several tame giant tortoises lumbering around the gardens munching fallen mangos. We made our way back to Abuja via the second largest monolith in the world. Zuma rock is dwarfed only by Uluru in the Australian desert. Interestingly, the third largest monolith is Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de
Janeiro in Brazil... we win, Brazil RSE!
The final day started at the High Commission, discussing issues such as corruption, ethno-religious tensions and how to unite the country, with a panel drawn from the legal profession and academia. To round off a day of civic engagement we visited a local pottery. The owner,
Steven, credited his success and
anglophile outlook to the dedication
of his British teacher. A fish
barbeque was served for lunch,
following which many of the group
vowed not to eat another catfish
for a long time!
Our abiding memories of Nigeria
will be of a country rich in culture, history and blessed with significant resources. There is frustration that
a country with such potential should be fragile, and in some estimates close
to failure. It was an unforgettable opportunity in a nation that is central to British Defence Engagement efforts in the region.

   57   58   59   60   61