Alexander Sabundu Badeh, Nigeria’s former Chief of Defence Staff whose career spanned 38 years – at the twilight of which he led war efforts against Boko Haram Terrorism – died Tuesday, December 18.
He was 61.
The retired general died from wounds sustained after gunshots were fired at him, alongside his driver, as he was returning from his farm along Abuja-Keffi Road, the military said Tuesday evening.
Air Marshal Badeh was born on January 7, 1957, in Vimtim, or Vim for short, a little known Fali-speaking community in Mubi Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Nigeria’s North-east.
Vim, as well as other parts of Mubi, fell to Boko Haram in late 2014 when the community’s most illustrious son ever was Nigeria’s highest-ranking military officer.
The government later announced the recapture of Mubi – but the terrorists earlier renamed it Modinatul-Islam and caused massive displacements.
After his secondary school education, Mr Badeh gained admission to the Nigerian Defence Academy in January 1977 starting his career as a member of 21 Regular Course and was commissioned a Pilot Officer on July 3, 1979, when at the 301 Flying Training School, he first flew on Bulldog Primary Trainer aircraft.
Between 1981 and 1982, he was at the Vance Air Force Base in the United States for the undergraduate pilot training. He later attended the junior staff course at Armed Forces Command and Staff College in 1988.
Between 1995 and 1996, he attended the senior staff course at the same institution. In 2005, he was at the National War College Nigeria as a member of Course 14 and graduated in August 2006. He attended Safety International Institute at Teterboro in New York for a course in Simulator Recurrence.
In 2008, he was promoted to the rank of Air Vice Marshal, after he had served as the Commander of the Presidential Air Fleet (2002-2004) under the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency.
Before his appointment as the 18th Chief of Air Staff by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012, he had served as the Chief of Policy and Plans at the Air Force Headquarters.
As the Chief of Air Staff, most remarkably, he promoted R and D collaborations with various Nigerian universities and initiated Optimising Local Engineering, bringing together PhD and Master’s degree holders in the Force to develop indigenous weapon systems.
He later became the Chief of Defence Staff in April 2014, serving until July 2015 when he was fired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He reached the highest level attainable in the military. And it was not absolutely about a matter of personal achievements – at least he drove local content.
But as a wartime military commander, his show was dismal. Boko Haram took swathes of Nigeria’s territory, including his hometown, and killed thousands of people under what seemed to be a free reign of terror with the military under Mr Badeh unable to account for funds meant to prosecute the devastating war.
Mr Badeh, before his death, was among top ex-service men standing trial for corruptly enriching themselves from the funds that should have been freed up for resources to combat Boko Haram. In one of his mansions, $1 million was found according to anti-graft EFCC operatives.
In 2016, he spent days in Kuje Prison where he was remanded. As he struggled to meet his bail conditions, enduring poor conditions in the prison, he was reported to have rejected the food served him.
What he had to endure was reminiscent of what men and women on the frontline facing Boko Haram fires in the North-eastern jungles have continued to complain about. They blame their chiefs, of which Mr Badeh was one, for a few years.
Mr Badeh’s killing on the outskirts of Nigeria’s capital has triggered renewed conversations among Nigerians about the security situation in the country. Many opine it was the diversion of funds by people in positions of public responsibility, as Mr Badeh once was, that contributed to the state of insecurity in the country.