13 June 2016
It was yet another occasion for Nigeria to shine last weekend when a Colonel Charles Nengite beat 380 other post-graduate students to the top positions at the United States War College (USAWC), Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Some of the prominent servicemen who had gone through USAWC in the past were President Muhammadu Buhari, Collin Powell, Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton and Norman Schwarzkopf.
In one of several letters conveying his choice for the various awards, the Commandant of the college, Major-General William Rapp described Nengite’s performance as arguably “one of the best; if not the best performance by any foreigner in the 38-year history of the international fellows program at the USAWC’’.
Major-General Rapp also said at the graduation that Nigeria should be proud of Colonel Nengite and his compatriot in the Masters of Strategic Studies class, Colonel Timothy Shipi, whom he added performed brilliantly.
At the graduation of the 2015 class, Colonel Nengite bagged six awards for outstanding performance in different courses.
He earned the Distinguished Graduate award reserved for the top five fellows in his class of 381 and also the Commandant’s award for distinction in research.
Nengite also received the USAWC recognition award for innovation in SHARP – Sexual Harassment and Response Programme, having articulated what was adjudged a seminal paper – “I am your friend campaign’’ – strategy under the SHARP.
SHARP is considered of significant importance to the U.S. Army.
Colonel Nengite also received the 2nd best speaker award in the speaking competition in the 2016 class made up of 302 Americans and 79 other nationals of 73 other countries.
Nigeria’s former Minister of Information, Frank Nweke II, who was a special guest at the ceremony, said he felt so much elated about the achievements of the colonels that while the flags of the nations of the course participants were hoisted at the same height in the hall, Nigeria’s distinctive green-and-white flag “towered above the others in my mind’s eye’’.
He said: “around the world, Nigerians have and continue to excel in scholarship, research, innovation and pioneered inventions in almost every field of human endeavour, but back home, the absence of the right resources constrain the expression and manifestation of their geniuses.
“This must change in order for us to keep our best people at home and to compete globally.
“I consider it extremely disrespectful for the political class to suggest that any group of people in our nation is backward or lack the capacity to compete and must be propped up at all times. I do not believe that any group is more endowed than the other.
“The performance of Nengite and Gakji Shipi, both from opposite ends of our country bear me out.’’
Nweke added that “many nations have mobilised their citizens around a clear national development philosophy which shaped their development trajectories with great success. Nigeria cannot be different.’’
Chief of Staff of the United States Army, General Mark Milley, who presided over the ceremony, told the audience that graduands of the College proceed to occupy strategic leadership positions that require keen intellect and strength of character.
The USAWC was founded in 1901 to specifically cater to the strategic leadership training needs of the United States military.