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African Military Officers Have a Responsibility to Effectively Address Africa's Security Challenges, Retired Nigerian General Says
Military officers play a critical role in addressing Africa's complex security challenges, Nigerian General Owoy Azazi (retired) stressed in his keynote speech during the January 27, 2009 opening ceremonies of a four-week military leadership
Military officers play a critical role in addressing Africa's complex security challenges, Nigerian General Owoy Azazi (retired) stressed in his keynote speech during the January 27, 2009 opening ceremonies of a four-week military leadership course hosted by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C.



In attendance were 56 military officers from 35 African nations.



"For those of you here, you have the opportunity to know 56 officers. Who you know actually matters," Azazi said, speaking from his experience as the former Chief of the Nigerian Defense Staff.



He touched upon the complex problems defining African security, including the eradication of hunger, gender equality, controlling HIV/AIDS and Malaria, providing comprehensive primary education, and reducing maternal mortality, among others.



According to Azazi, this complexity requires military officers and their governments to look beyond traditional solutions.



"There cannot be meaningful development without security and peace, " he stated,"(and) providing security for nations is the most important function of government."



Azazi also stressed the importance of proper conduct within African militaries. High ethical standards should be the norm and particular attention needs to be paid to strengthening the relationship between ethics and leadership.



According to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, the military officers who attended the seminar were primarily majors and lieutenant colonels chosen by their countries to attend based on their experience and leadership potential.



Strong leadership will contribute to establishing strong civil-military relations, another critical step towards a more secure and democratic Africa, said Azazi.



"Democracy is about the people's choice, not about who can get into power and enjoy the benefits," he said.



During a brief interview following his keynote address, Azazi stated that although military officers will not be able to answer all their questions over the next four weeks, they will learn more about effective leadership and will better understand how to successfully address the continent's complex security threats.





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