BY YAKUBU GARBA
Commodore Emmanuel Kabirat Jekada (retd), who is the present Chairman of the Kaduna State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is a quintessential brilliance of studied hard work in military service and a consummate academic. Having served the Air Force for 30 years, excluding the three years he trained as a pilot cadet, the retired Air Force officer remains one of the nation’s best that has demonstrated excellence in both military and academic endeavours in service to the fatherland. Throughout his years in service, Jekada displayed an unprecedented versatility that placed him far above his equals.
After retiring from the military, he was active in joining forces with others in attaining victory for the APC in 2015 polls through assisting to expand and broaden the frontiers of triumph for the then General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) and Malam Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai. Concentrating on the southern axis of Kaduna state where he hails from, he was at the vanguards of mobilising electorates to ensure victory for his party.
The political affinity between Jekada and President Muhammadu Buhari did not start today. It goes back to the 1980s when the path of the duo crossed during a military operation in Chad. Impressed by the modesty and principled disposition of the Katsina-born General, it never took long for Jekada to have a soft spot for Buhari who was later to emerge as Head of State on December 31, 1983.
With return of democracy in May 1999, and the decision by Buhari to join active politics shortly after, Jekada kept a close tap on his role model and supported him through the ballot in the years to follow. After retirement, the heavily decorated Air Force officer was later to join the Buhari Train and worked for the success of both General Buhari and Malam el-Rufai during the 2015 polls.
After the successful merger of political parties that created the APC ahead of the 2015 polls, Jekada played frontal roles in mobilising the electorate in the southern axis of Kaduna state and worked with others to draw large membership for the party in 2015 and ensure success of the party.
The retired officer was not only appointed the Deputy Coordinator of the APC Presidential Campaign for 2015 in Kaduna state, he also served as member of the publicity committee that developed media strategies in swinging victory for the party at both the presidential and governorship polls.
Realising that Southern Kaduna had become a strong foot of the PDP, the retired Air Commodore was one of the elders of the APC that worked behind-the-scene to ensure victory of General Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. In demonstrating his unalloyed support and loyalty to the APC, he was among the vanguards that organised the visit of Buhari to Southern Kaduna to meet with the electorate during campaigns in order to seek ways of resolving some of the issues confronting the zone.
As a cerebral officer of the Nigerian Air Force, Jekada did not only believe in the sincerity of the APC presidential candidate in 2015, he declared that the forthrightness of Buhari and his moral standing was capable of introducing positive new orientations to Nigerians for national rebirth.
Considering the then profile of the PDP in Kaduna state, the retired officer played leading roles in convincing the people of Kaduna state, especially his zone, to vote out the PDP that had become insensitive to the yearnings of the people, following the incessant killings in parts of the state.
His election as Chairman of APC, Kaduna state reveals the level of support and commendation he enjoys from supporters of the party in all parts of the state. The rising performance profile of the APC in Kaduna State, especially in the southern axis, has been attained through strategic thinking deployed by the APC boss in calling his people to rally behind the APC. The electoral victory of the APC in Kauru, Kagarko and Sanga during the 2019 polls demonstrates the new political paradigm being enjoyed by the APC. As Chairman of the APC, Jekada, whose footprints in military career and political engagement have placed him far above his peers, remains a beacon of inspiration.
Described as a leader of men and astute politician who is committed to providing dividends of democracy to the people of Kaduna state, Jekada was born on November 28, 1956 in Madakiya, near Kafanchan in Kaduna State. He got enrolled at the St Paul’s Catholic School, Madakiya, from 1963-1969. After his primary education, he headed for the Basawa Teacher’s College, Zaria, where he obtained Grade II Teacher’s certificate in 1974. After completing his studies, he joined the Nigerian Air Force as a potential pilot and member of the Cadet’s Military Training Course 2 (CMTC) in 1977. Commissioned as regular combatant officer with the rank of Pilot Officer in 1980, the hard working Jekada was later to peak his academic laurels by obtaining a PhD in international Relations and Strategic Studies at St Clements University TURK & Caicos Islands British West Indies London Graduation Centre. Before this, he obtained Masters in International Relations and Strategic Studies. From 1991-1993, Jekada was at the University of Jos where he obtained Advanced Diploma in Public Administration, and thereafter headed to the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, for a Post-Graduate Diploma in Management from 1998-1999. He later obtained Masters of Business Administration and Management (MBA) in 2000 in the same university.
Apart from demonstrating excellence in academic, the retired military officer also displayed equal competence in all military trainings/courses he was involved in. After completing his Primary Flying Training School at the NAF Base in Kaduna in 1978, he attended the Technical Training School, Kecsler Air Force Base in Mississippi in the United States of America where he acquired Air Traffic Control (ATC) Specialist Certificate and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Rating in 1979. He later attained Air Traffic Control Licence (Military) in 1980 at the Kano International Airport-on-the-job training (OJT).
At the Armed Forces Command & Staff College Jaji, Kaduna State, he obtained Pjsc (passed junior staff college) in 1989 and Psc (Passed Staff College) in 1996. He was at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS) Kuru, near Jos, for his mni (member, National Institute, 2008). Apart from attending seminar on ‘Operational readiness and essential pillars of credible national defence systems,’ the retired officer also attended NAF administrative seminar, among other seminars and workshops.
Throughout his three decades of military career, he attended courses on disaster management, including courses detailing basic life support and aid; disaster management seminar at the Department of State, USA, Search and Rescue Administrators’ course, among others.
The trajectory of Jekada in his military promotion reveals him as a man whose excellence was recognised through his dint of hard work and dedication to duties. After his enlistment as potential Pilot Cadet in 1977, he was later to be commissioned as Pilot Officer (Regular Combatant in 1980. He became a Flight Lieutenant in 1986 and steadily rose to the rank of Squadron Leader in 1991. He was promoted to Wing Commander (1996); Group Captain (2001) and Air Commodore in 2006. He retired from the Nigeria Air Force in 2010, 30 years after he was commissioned as pilot officer.
As an officer with leadership qualities, Jekada has held several positions in the military and they include: Administrative Officer (AO) Air Traffic Squadron, Flying Training School Kano (1981); Officer Commanding (OC) Air Traffic Services Wing (ATS) Instructor Air Traffic Control/Meteorology (Met) 301 Flying School, Kaduna (1994-1995); Commander, NAF Station Maiduguri (1999-2000); Administrative Officer (AO) to the Chief of Air Staff NAF HQ Abuja (1998-1999); Deputy Director, Relief and Disaster Management, Defence Headquarters (DHQ) Abuja (2005-2006); Director, Research and Rescue, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Abuja, and Directing Staff , National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS) Kuru from 2009 till his retirement.
He also attended military operations that included Operation Sea Dog in Calabar (1980); Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) Peace Keeping Force in Chad (1981); Assigned military operational exercises of Tactical Air Command (TAC) in Makurdi/Maiduguri (1982-1989) and Operation Takute Expe JOPEX in Lagos (2004).
Throughout his military career that spans over 30 years, Jekada has been honoured with many military awards, among them are: Distinction Pass in Flying Officers to Flight Lieutenant Promotion Examination (1982); Recipient of the Time News Leadership Merit Award for Excellent Responses to National Disaster in Nigeria (2007) and Special Letter of Commendation for Hard Work and Sense of Honesty from NIPPS, Kuru (2009).
Apart from decorations received from the military with Force Service Star (FSS), Meritorious Service Star (MSS) and Distinguished Service Star (DSS), Air Commodore Jekada is a member of several professional associations that include Associate, Institute of Personnel Management (AIPM); Associate, Institute of Chartered Administration (ACIA); Fellow, Institute of Professional Financial Managers London (FIPFM); Member, National Institute of International Affairs (MNIIA) and Member, institute of Management Consultants (MIMC).
The Distinguished Air Force officer has written and published cerebral articles on issues relating to his military career that includes, the ‘Role of Air Power in the Maintenance of Regional Peace and Security: A case study of Nigerian Air Force operations in Liberia (1990 -1996); Effective Search and Rescue Organisation for the Nigerian Aviation Industry (MBA project, ATBU Bauchi); Proliferation of Small Arms and Ethnic Conflicts in Nigeria: Implications For National Security (Ph.D. dissertation, St Clements University, London (2006) and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) In Nigeria: An Examination of Present Strategy and executive Proceedings (mni project, NIPPS 2008).
It is incontrovertible that Air commodore Jekada has not only left indelible footprints on the sands of his military career, but he is poised in pressing the buttons for a stronger platform that will enable the APC to provide dividends of democracy for the electorate.
Garba wrote this piece from Kawo- Kaduna.