Nigeria’s current most senior military officer is fat. No, he is not just overweight. He is obese. Air Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh is the most out-of-shape military officer I have ever seen in my life. In fact, he is probably the fattest person in Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
Phew! The man is fat. Badeh is so fat he surely cannot tie his own shoe laces. Badeh is so fat the circumference of his waist is almost the size of the equator. Badeh is so fat he cannot see his own feet or genitals when standing upright. My friends, Badeh is fat. The man is so fat you could cut two pre-tummy tuck Diepreye Alamieyesigha out of him. Badeh is so fat when he takes off the girdle, his gut drops to just below his knees. Boy, the man is grotesquely fat.
I know the paragraph above reads like series of those old “mama jokes,” but have you seen the man who now heads the Nigerian military lately? All jokes apart, no one can convince me that Badeh has walked past a gym in the past ten years. No one can tell me that Badeh can sleep on the floor and rise to his feet without supporting himself with somebody or something. No one can tell me that Badeh can do one single correct sit-up or one single correct push-up. And definitely, no one can tell me that the man can jog (not even to run) downhill for 100 meters. Certainly, this man does not even own a pair of running shoes! How on earth would he lace those shoes if he had them? Yet, this is the man heading Nigeria’s military?
The shame is not mine. And it is not that of ordinary Nigerians. The shame is that of the Air Force that has promoted this mediocre performer through the ranks all these years. It is, above all, the shame of the man who appointed Badeh to this top-level job. Didn’t Jonathan meet him before appointing him? Didn’t it strike Jonathan as odd that a military officer looked so chubby? If this man was half the size he is today and he was a Captain in the military service of ANY truly disciplined force – Air Force, Navy, Army or Police – he would have never made the rank of Major before being summarily dismissed. This man is the epitome of professional laxity in the military. This man, in his current state of rotund-ness, should not even lead the Boys’ Scouts organization. And I am not being facetious. How can you be 56 years old and be this fat as a military officer?
The military is synonymous with discipline: the discipline to obey orders of those appointed over you; the discipline to control your temper when provoked by civilians, and the discipline to get up early in the morning, even in the rain, to exercise. That discipline comes into play when you are at the table, eating and drinking. You ought to know when to say “no” to another morsel of pounded yam or another bottle of beer. As a leader, as an officer in particular, how do you stand before a subordinate officer whom you are about to recommend for court martial and preach discipline when you are so grossly out of shape. Military leaders lead from the front; how can you lead from the front when you cannot even keep pace with a formation of subordinates going for a five-kilometer run? This is a shame on the entire Nigerian military.
There are military leaders who are unable to run or do particular types of exercises due to injuries. I can live with those. But there are no military officers who are unable to conduct exercises because they are fat. Only in Nigeria would you find such shameless officers. As an Air Force officer, how could Badeh hope to ever fit into a single-pilot fighter jet? And if he manages to squeeze in one such aircraft, how would he retrieve a bombing run map if he accidentally drops one on the floor of the aircraft? The man is just too fat to bend over in such narrow confines. Any time you have a military officer who cannot fit into the seat of a regular, economy commercial aircraft, you have a problem. This guy will always only fit in a First Class seat.
Some have argued that Jonathan hired him because of his tribe. I am not even going to dignify such assertions with a counter-argument. I am sure he is not the only one from his tribe who is in the Air Force. If Jonathan must appoint from Badeh’s tribe, he most certainly could have found someone else. If Jonathan must hire Badeh, he could have retired him and made him defense minister; in which case, people like me would not have had any reason to complain. Others have argued that he was appointed because he was the most brilliant officer in the entire Nigerian military. Now, that is the most fatuous argument ever made in defense of an obese military officer. Wasn’t Badeh the one in charge of the Nigerian Air Force last December 2nd when Boko Haram fighters charged the Air Force base outside Maiduguri destroying three aircraft and some vehicles? What does it say of his leadership prowess when one of the military bases under his command is overrun effortlessly by Boko Haram? Who was (or should have been) responsible for overall force protection in the Air Force on December 2nd 2013 when Boko Haram humiliated the Force? Why then have we appointed this same guy to now head the entire Nigerian military?
I know the tone of this piece is a bit harsh (and some might argue indecorous) on the new Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), but the military of any country is just too important to be handled with levity. It is an obscene bastardization of the military to have somebody whose “wear and appearance” in uniform…in any capacity, let alone that of the CDS… is so unprofessional. What example does it now say to all members of the Nigerian military who are undisciplined and have the propensity to grow fat? That they could expect to be rewarded with promotion like Badeh’s case? Even Idi Amin was not this fat.
Abeg Jonathan, fire this guy today!
By Abiodun Ladepo
Los Angeles, California, USA
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters