The Minister of Defence, retired Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, says understanding of history by military personnel is important in the planning and execution of military operations.
Magashi stated this at the maiden Annual Nigerian Army Military History Seminar, organised by the Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC) on Tuesday in Abuja.
The minister was represented by the Coordinator, Peace Support Operations, Ministry of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Sani Mohammed.
Magashi said it was important for an organisation to have a credible platform for the collation of its history and activities to obtain useful lessons and avoid pitfalls of the past.
He commended the Nigerian Army for the establishment of the Military History Institute under NARC to document its past legacies.
Magashi said the institute would provide the analytical tools for the development of functional homegrown doctrine for professional efficiency.
According to him, the Nigerian army has a very rich history spanning over 158 years dating back to 1863.
“Some of the activities of Nigerian army cut across the participation in peace support operations in the advancement of its foreign policy down to the various internal security operations such as counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism conducted to keep Nigeria as a nation.
“The contributions of the military to nation-building are also invaluable and worthy of documentation.
“The historical memories generated by these operations are evergreen and needs to be documented.’’
The minister said that the seminar would be used to relish past memories and draw useful lessons to solve present challenges and guide future activities.
The Director-General, NARC, retired Maj.-Gen. Garba Wahab, said that the seminar was in recognition of the importance of history to individual lives, organisations and communities as well as future planning.
Wahab noted that history was not given the prominence it deserved in Nigeria, adding that the subject was even removed from primary and secondary curriculum at some point.
He said that effort must be made to go back to the drawing board by giving more prominence to history.
According to him, it is believed that we have learnt from what happened in Nigeria like the civil war and the Metasine crisis, and their causative factors.
“Military men are required to understand military history because planning for war, battle or any event begins with understanding the particular event and come up with a strategy and plan on what to do.
And like I said, if you don’t take what happened in the past, analyse it critically and bring out lesson, Tu will continue to live in the past,” he said.