Birds of the same feather flock together. So it is with Brigadier Gen. Clifford Wanda and wife, Brigadier Gen. Cecilia Akagu. They are Nigeria’s first military couple to be same ranked as army generals. In an interview with a Punch correspondent, the military couple go down memory lane, sharing their experiences, relationship, principles and achievements. This is their story…
Wanda started off as a boy soldier in the Nigerian Military School in 1974. Impassioned by his foster father’s profession he too fell in love with the military profession so much so that his elementary education was in a military school. By 1986, he had been commissioned in the Nigerian Army as a Lieutenant medical doctor. His medical profile also includes- ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) consultant, an ENT surgeon and a Fellow of the West African College of Surgeons and the National Post-Graduate Medical College.
Despite the reservations from the rest of the family, the spirit of adventure urged him on to go for the profession, regardless of the evident risks involved.
On the other hand, Cecelia stormed on the recruitment processes by chance and as fate would have it, she was found fit for the job. The Kogi state amazon recalls a zero case of shying away from the hardcore army training. As a pace setter, she is recognized as the first female finance officer and at the moment, the Director of Army Accounts Inspectorate, Ojo.
The power military couple met in 1990 during a training,
“We were course mates, so to say, even though she was a Second Lieutenant and I was a Lieutenant. We met during the course and the relationship started from there.” – Wanda
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Going further on he explains that amongst other attributes, the ones that attracted him the most to Cecilia was her composure, confidence and fear of God. Cecilia would always pray when Wanda was away at the war front on an assignment. The military couple have 2 biological children and other adopted ones too.
Having two captains in a boat is not always fun. Cecilia admits to earlier challenges in their communication, since she herself was an authoritative personality. Thus, Wanda often called her ‘small man’ and ‘Margaret Thatcher.’
” I later realized that anytime I showed such qualities, I was not getting anything (positive) from him. So, I advised myself that even though I’m a soldier, I am a woman too. I decided to humble myself and that was the end of the fights.” – Cecilia
Contrary to general notion, Wanda, described as a gentleman by his wife, disagrees that soldiers are not “utterly” aggressive. Having the Bible as their standard for the “home front” Wanda sees no need to exercise brutality in his family; instead love and understanding rules.
When asked if it was a problem saluting his wife as stipulated by the army principles that once your wife is on the same rank with you, she is your senior by a step. He said this, “I don’t mind saluting her because she is wearing one rank higher as the mother of the house.”
As they expect their first grand child, Brigadier Gen. Clifford Wanda and Brigadier Gen. Cecilia Akagu, are not just models for being the first top ranked military couple but they also serve as models for all couples who battle with striking a balance between gender roles, social positions and matrimonial roles.