A former President of National Union of voluntary paramilitary organisation, Man O' War Clubs in Higher Institutions of Nigeria, Ifeolu Adewumi, has revealed the reason the uniform of the outfit was changed from army green to brown khaki.
Adewunmi told Saturday PUNCH that the President, Major Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) who was the then General Officer Commanding, 2nd Mechanised Division at the Command's Office in Agodi, Ibadan, Oyo State, cut off military supplies to voluntary paramilitary organisation in 1981.
The 69-year-old academic said that as a member of the Man O' War Club, their main objective was never to run after politicians as they were always busy looking for ways to help communities in terms of security and provision of basic amenities.
Fast forward to 1981, when he came in contact with Buhari, Adewunmi said he went there with other Man O' war officers to see him and they had to wait for at least 20 minutes before he came out.
When Buhari finally came out, he asked them how many northerners were in their university.
Adewunmi stated that she responded that the University of Ife is a regional institution in the Western Region and there will be more people from here than from other tribes.
He said Buhari then asked him to come in two weeks time as he was preparing to hand over and another person would be in charge the next time he comes.
Two weeks later, Adewunmi, presently Professor of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering, said they headed back to the office and that was how they were warned never to appear before them dressed up in Man O' War uniform and that refusal to do so would mean that they were 'impersonators' and they would be treated as such.
He said, "As members of the Man O' War Club, we did community service in those days. That was the main objective and not to run after politicians or guard any big man as it is today. We looked for what to do in communities and we assisted in terms of security. Also, if there were no latrine, we built it; if there were no footbridges, we provided it. Our duties were purely about serving the community.
"Usually, soldiers from the Nigerian Army came to train us. They also took care of our camping materials, food, uniform and others. I recollect meeting General Buhari. That was in May 1981. I went there as the Commander-in-Chief of Man O' War club in UNIFE.
"I went there with other officers in the Man O' War. When we got there and filled the form to say that the commander-in-chief of Man O' War was there to see him, we waited for about 20 minutes and when he (Buhari) came out, he said, 'I was told that there is a C-in-C in the Office of a GOC, I think it should be the other way round.' Buhari is a very humorous person. I got the joke and I saluted him and got up. And he said, 'Now that we know who is in control, you can come into my office.'
"I went in and introduced everybody and requested logistics support for Man O' War. The next thing General Buhari asked was that. 'How many northerners are in your university?' I said, 'Sir, University of Ife is a regional institution in the Western Region, there will be more people from here than from other tribes. In ABU (Ahmadu Bello University), there will be more northerners than other tribes and in (University of Nigeria) Nsukka, there will be more Igbo there.'
"'Okay, okay, how many of you have joined the Army?' I mentioned a few people. He then asked how we managed (to get) our uniforms and I told him. He studied us and said, 'I am writing my handover notes. By the time you come in two weeks' time, you will meet the person in charge, he will tell you our decision'.
"Two weeks later, we went back and we met General Joshua Hananiah. He is late now. After retirement, he was appointed the Corp Marshal for the Federal Road Safety Corps. Then, he said, 'I have bad news for you. By the next time you come, we must not see you in Army uniform. If we see you in Army uniform, we will treat you as impersonators and you know what that means'.
"I tried to raise an objection but Hananiah said, 'Don't you know when a senior officer has given an instruction, you don't go against it? That is an order'. As the Commander-in-Chief for all Man O' War clubs in Nigeria, I told the other commanders to come over to Ife and told them not to use the Army green uniform anymore for our safety and that was why we changed the Man O' War uniform to brown khaki that you see today. That was how the military cut off supplies to Man O' War Clubs."