BURATAI’S STATEMENT AND THE WAR AGAINST INSURGENCY IN NIGERIA
Some years ago, I was one of 20 young men from Benue State shortlisted to join the Nigerian army’s short service course. While in the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna, I witnessed firsthand the many shenanigans that happens within the Nigerian military as an institution. Admit it or not, the typical Nigerian culture of “man know man” is prevalent in the military as it concerns recruitment/enlistment, postings and promotions. I immediately realized the Nigerian military is not for an ‘activist’ like me and any motivation I had to fight for Nigeria died.
Two days ago, the Nigerian Army Chief; Tukur Buratai blamed Nigerian soldiers for setbacks in the fight against the Boko Haram sect in Nigeria’s Northeast. He said army commanders and soldiers are not disciplined and lacked commitment towards the battle against Boko Haram. Although many Nigerians are bashing Buratai for this statement, I’d say he is right and spot on! Why so? Because many of Nigeria’s army officers and men were enlisted, posted and promoted without due process due to interference by elites, both political, traditional and military. Again, many of today’s army officers and men are on the job for the salaries – and not to fight. An army man that doesn’t want to fight, is that one an army man?
In one week, the ‘technically-defeated’ Boko Haram terrorist group overran FOUR Nigerian army military bases killing many of our dear soldiers and destroying/or carting away hardwares/equipments. Another reason (apart from the indiscipline of soldiers) responsible for the setback in the fight against Boko Haram is the lack of equipment. The Defence Industries Corporation (DICON) in Kaduna was established to produce weapons and ammunitions for the Nigerian army but today, the DICON produces only furnitues and stationeries – and Nigeria has to constantly buy from other countries who may decide not to sell to us. The fight against insurgency is not Sumo wrestling and Nigerian soldiers cannot fight it with their bare hands. Compare the arms, weapons and ammunitions the Boko Haram uses with Nigerian soldiers and you won’t be surprise why our soldiers run away from battles against Boko Haram. Yes, run!
Bad leadership, both civilian and military, is ultimately responsible for the setbacks. Teeming Buharideens who have the ears of President Muhammadu Buhari must stop lying to Mr. President that Boko Haram only now attacks soft targets (markets, churches, mosques, etc) because army bases are hard targets. A sect that frequently attacks army bases, kill tens of our dear soldiers and destroys and/or carts away Nigerian military hardwares/equipment cannot be wished away or be said to have been technically defeated. One of the reasons Nigerians voted Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as president in 2015 was because we believed that as a retired army general, he would successfully overrun the Boko Haram. But daily, it is proving difficult.
Lieutenant Colonel Ibrahim Sakaba, Commander of the 157 Task Force Battalion in Melete, Borno State was killed along with many of his men by Boko Haram when the sect attacked their base. Before his death, he consistently complained about poor military hardware and acute shortage of welfare supplies to his men but nothing was done. Clearly, our leaders are not serious about defeating Boko Haram, particularly as we are not putting in the money needed to prosecute this non-conventional war. Add to this the fact that there are not enough troops on ground in the Northeast to combat Boko Haram. As at December 2018, there are only 38,000 soldiers in the Northeast and this number is not enough. Sideeq Shehu, a retired Airfore officer, suggests that Nigeria needs at least 200,000 troops on ground in the Northeast. This means that more Nigerians, in an exercise free from influences by elites, must be recruited into the army immediately because the battle of the soul of Nigeria rages on.
© Chad Otsapa