he large living room fell silent. You could hear a pin drop. It was eerie. As Chiga looked around the room, he noticed that everybody looked away, avoiding his eyes. He returned his glaze to the 60-inch Song LED Television suspended on the wall, and to the electoral returning officer reading the details of the election results. Only last week, during the campaign around the country, the turnout was overwhelmingly positive, indicating support. He was convinced that his track record during the first term would see him through. As head of government, Chiga was allpowerful. The armed forces, police, secret service, and other security agencies answered to him. Most importantly, he controlled the electoral body. After all, he appointed its head. In these parts, it was impossible to unseat an incumbent. Yet, the results being announced said that he lost by a slim margin. Was this a conspiracy? Was he outraged by the opposition? The results were suspect! That night was long. Party officials, strategists, lawyers, political jobbers, people of his ethic group, and hangers-on of all shades and sizes inundated him with advice to reject and contest the results. They even got around to getting the service chiefs’ loyalty and affirmation to go along with any line of action he decided to take. The elections were difficult. The economy was not doing well, and unemployment was high. Recovery was slow, and the people were impatient. The candidate for the other party was charismatic and a populist. In his heart, Chiga knew that the economy was turning around. He needed some time to complete the many projects he had started. He had put the country in a solid path to recovery. All he needed was one more term! He could crush possible protests and handle the judiciary. But at what cost? For what purpose? For ego? Power? Spoils of office? Leaders protect and provide for their people; they do not shoot or trample on them! It was 10 o’clock in the morning as President Chiga walked up to the lectern in the government office. He paused. Then looking into the cameras, he conceded defeat and congratulated his opponent. He did not take questions. The above excerpt, a passage from the book, Defining Persona: 16 Virtue that Transforms Societies written by Navy Captain George Nnadozie Alily (rtd), shows a mind that has penetrating foresight. It is necessary to declare an interest. I am a great
19 SEPTEMBER 2015
George Alily:The pleasure of his company admirer and devoted friend of the captain, whose superiors and friends love to call George. My association with him over the last 10 years is one of the joys of my own life. It’s not only that Alily deepens one’s understanding of the world, of its problems and possibilities, but that he is always such a good man to be with. No one that I have come across could be more fun than him, no one more appealing, with those impulses of gentleness and intellect so curiously intermingle in his vivid personality. He value friendships, precision and truth. I first met Alily sometime in 2005, when my then principal at Thisday: Mr. Adeyeye Joseph, directed me to fill in a story on the dumping of waste in the Lagos Lagoon. The encounter was most revealing about the then Commander of NNS Beecroft Apapa Lagos. George possesses a personality so appealing, a mind as richly endowed and informed, a heart so warm and understanding, a spirit so unconquerable. He has the precious gift of inspiring the courage of others. The way he efficiently and silently organised the legal battle against his compulsory retirement and 12 other Naval officers from the Nigeria Navy showed his limitless ability. The President of the National Industrial Court (NIC), Justice Babatunde Adejumo, ruled that “The compulsory retirements of the claimants through the letters each dated 9 March, 2007 are wrongful, Illegal, Unconstitutional, null and void as same were done in com-
plete violation and breach of the principles of natural justice”. Upon his exit from the Navy, he moved on with his life and set up Southgate Maritime Services Ltd., a company involved in the maritime risk management, training and consultancy. He has this to say about his retirement. “We must remember that right has a strength of its own. No end will justify wrong as a means; instead, wrong means will defeat the best of ends. There is a right and a wrong about the conduct of men and of nations that is not merely a matter of expediency and the man or the people who ceases to make justice its standard of conduct is lost. He once told me that “success is not the money one makes or the position that you occupy, but how your family turns out. If your family is a success you are a success.” Whenever he comes back from overseas, his usual refrain is “Sule, your book is ready.” Alily often says: “Use your mind to the fullest; discover the world through reading, study and travel; welcome new adventures. A staunch Catholic, but that has not affected our friendship. A forthnight ago when I went to collect the latest book that he brought back from the United States where he spent his summer vacation, he intoned: “Why did Jesus accept crucifixion and suffer and die for us? What was He doing for us, and by example telling all of us?” Faith, he explained, “Is a great living gift from God, intended to sustain our lives on earth, to guide us in our activities and to act as a source of solace and comfort.” His former boss and superior, Navy Captain Akin Adekoya (rtd), once described him as the best Chief of Naval Staff the Nigerian Navy never had. “A great many officer and men of the service will tell you that George was the grand hope of
He has the precious gift of inspiring the courage of others
the Nigerian Navy. He has everything. He is young, able, of high integrity, personally attractive, and modest. He has never been an exhibitionist or a prima donna. He is sanely progressive and wisely cautious. The military has been his life since he was 12 years old. Alily was born on September 20, 1960 at the Island Maternity Hospital on Lagos Island to the late Major Ohawady and Regina Alily. Following the outbreak of the Nigeria Civil War, his family relocated to their home town of Lorji in Aboh-Mbaise Imo State. He attended Lorji Community School for his primary education. From 1973 to 1978, he attended the Nigerian Military School, Kaduna for his Secondary education. In 1979, Alily proceeded to the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna. upon graduation in 1981, he underwent his midshipman sea training on board the NNS Aradu. He was a member of the star-studded 25th Regular course, which produced the current Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin, the immediate past Chief of Army staff Lt. Gen KTJ Minimah, the former Chief of Air Staff, Marshal Sola Amosun, the Chief of Defence Intelligence, Air Vice Marshal Monday Morgan to mention but a few. Alily hails from a warrior clan, while his late father was a major in the Nigerian Army, his eldest brother Felix Alily retired from the Army as a Brigadier-General. His first cousin, Major General Eugene Nwanguma, was once the General Officer Commanding 81 division, Lagos. He also attended Basic and Advanced electronics Intelligence course in Hamburg between 1985 1986. He was in the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, in 1989, and between 1989 and 1990, he underwent the officer long course at NNS Quorra, Lagos. He also attended the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Teshie- Accra from 1995 to 1996 and he was at the National War College, Abuja between September 2006 and August 2007. Before disengaging from the navy, Alily served as the former Naval Attache, Embassy of Nigeria in Washington DC, United State, with concurrent accreditation to Canada. He holds a Master’s degree in International Service, majoring in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from the American University in Washington DC. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration. He has held several appointments, ashore and afloat, including serving as the Navigating Officer onboard NNS ERINOMI deployed to Liberia during the ECOMOG operations in 1992, and was the Deputy Director of Research and Development, Defence Intelligence Agency. He commanded NNS KYANWA, an auxiliary ship demployed for maritime surveillance and law enforcement, between 2002 and 2004, and was the Commanding Officer of NNS Beecroft, Apapa, Lagos, the Nigerian Navy’s premier operational shore base between 2004 and 2005. He is a member of the Royal Institute of Navigation, London, a life member of the US Naval Institute, Annapolis and a fellow of the National War College, Nigeria. He also authored the book “Naval Diplomacy: A Critical Component of National Power” Alily is married to Mrs. Gracy Chizzy, a legal practitioner and their marriage is blessed with two sons. Sule writes from Lagos.
Saturday, September 19, 2015