Colonel Charles Dalo Nengite who recently defeated 380 other postgraduate students to the top position at the U.S. War College (USAWC), Carlisle, Pennsylvania, bagged six awards for his outstanding performance in different courses, breaking a 38-year record in the process has been recognized by the Nigerian Army for his excellent performance.
Below are photos from his recognition ceremony by the Nigerian Army and Snippets of his Interview
The Nigerian Army awarded Col. Charles Nengite with the Chief of Army Staff Commendation Award on the 22nd of September 2016.
Snippets of his experience he shared in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES
How Did You Distinguish Yourself By Winning Six Awards and Emerging the Second Best Speaker For 2016?
I did not expect to perform so well partly because I had my apprehensions. But the system is designed to bring out the best in you and it is very fair and so with every task and course requirement I found myself doing very well. One thing I have to make clear is that the college discourages calling someone the best graduating student because in the college, competition is discouraged. Instead participants are encouraged to seek collaboration and team work.
The six awards and honours I won are the distinguished graduate award, the United States Army War College Commandant’s award for distinction in research for my strategy research project “Boko Haram”, establishing an intelligence fusion centre to combat the terrorists”. Others are a recognition award for my efforts at creating awareness for the Sexual Harassment and Response Program (SHARP) and the 2nd place award for the 2016 public speaking competition which is a very tough competition among the student body.
The honours include being the President, International Fellows and Vice President of the entire student body comprising 381 students. These are appointments with very demanding responsibilities. What makes the college awards and honours special was that there were very strict guidelines to win and the process was very transparent. Notable alumni are Dwight D Eisenhower (class of 1928), George S Patton (class of 1932), Ulysses S Grant 111 (class of 1934), and Omar Bradley (class of 1934). Others include Norman Schwarzkopf (class of 1973), President Muhammadu Buhari (class of 1980), and Abdul Fatah Al Sisi (class of 2006).
Do you think young Army officers will follow your footsteps and set records like yours in the future?
I am a product of the Nigerian Army educational system and I have never been outside the country before. My performance is a testimony that we have a robust and highly professional system that could produce better results. I truly believe that with the calibre and highly professional Nigerian Army leadership, more officers will perform better than we have seen so far.
What informed your interest in “I am Your Friend” As a topic?
I was given a topic about sexual assault in the United States Military by my faculty instructor. I interviewed some students and my student sponsor, Col. Tonri Brown was very helpful. After our research, we found that the word “friend” could be used as a prevention tool. So I coined a message from that word essentially because the word “friend” connotes the acceptable relationship status among colleagues in the work place. So the word f.r.i.e.n.d. means “Family of brothers and sisters in the military”; “Respect my privacy and gender”; “Inspire and enhance my career in the service”; “No one should take me for granted”; and “Do not cause me pain by your conduct or behaviour.” Therefore, if you are my friend, then stop unwanted sexual contacts in the military. The college was really happy with the concept and displayed it in the main hall of the college (Root hall). Thereafter I was given a recognition award for that and the concept has received a lot of positive reviews ever since.
At this time when Nigeria is faced with security challenges, what lesson have you brought home?
The greatest lesson I have brought home is the concept of critical thinking and judgement. Thinking critically about weighty, complex and biased issues calls for serious self-awareness and knowledge about the critical thinking model by Prof Steven Geras of the United States Army War College. So in a nutshell, I have been sent to learn critical thinking which the present chief of army staff has emphasized over and over again as the core requirement of strategic leaders. Recently, I was made a resource fellow at the National Defence College in Abuja to teach critical thinking and problem solving as part of the research package of the college on September 9. It is just the beginning. I believe very soon everyone will be onboard on this vital subject and very crucial requirement for strategic leadership.
What is your advice for your colleagues in the Army?
As professionals we must build on our frame of reference and improve our knowledge, skills and attributes. As strategic leaders, we should hone our conceptual, interpersonal and technical competencies. As an institution that is subject to civilian control, we must continue to remain relevant by being solution givers. This can only be done when we are on top of the game through wisdom, and resilience. We should take up any challenge as an opportunity to learn and show our patriotism.