By Taneemou al-Gambari
The Nigerian military have in recent times been engaged, more than ever in the history of this country, in the muddy waters of Nigeria’s dirty politics. The military have as their statutory responsibility, protection of country’s territorial integrity and against any foreign aggression. Unfortunately, the Nigerian military’s responsibilities have been reduced to petty works of vigilantes and local court judges.
They are now deployed to contain civil unrests, polling units, campaign rallies and police checkpoints. These army officers who were seen as men of repute and envied the world over owing to their gallantry have now turned to laughing stock of citizens and subjected to international ridicule. Soldiers now, like some kind of police or civil defence corps engage in treatment of cases like settlement of domestic disputes, two-fighting and even handsets theft, thereby rendering police redundant. Police and their civil defence counterparts now collaborate and sometimes even compete with the soldiers on N20 extortion at checkpoints.
It is still inconceivable that these soldiers who helped made name for themselves and the country as a result of their display of high professionalism in the past now happily present themselves as puppets to those “executhieves” for the latter’s selfish political gains. The recent audio being circulated of one Brigadier General Alli Momoh and some ministers strategising the rigging of Ekiti and Ondo states gubernatorial elections in favour of the Nigeria’s ruling party is, to say the least, heartpiercing. The said rigging session which was said to be recorded and unearthed by one Captain Sagir Koli speaks volume about the depth of the military’s involment politics of image denting dimension. Men and officers of the Nigerian army have by that exemplified show of shame proved the allegation that they have since thrown professionalism to the dogs. Among the consequences of soldiers allowing themselves to be misused by evil plotting politicians is that they easily forget the regimentary rigours of military discipline they passed through at the depot and academy. But for the riffles they flaunt and the fashion parade khaki they wear, there is no practical difference between them and the “bloody civilians” in the town. On hearing gunshots kilometres away, they jettison their riffles, undress for mufti and run helter skelter crying like babies possessed by demons of fear. True, ask the IDPs in Maiduguri and Yola. A rag-tag group of untrained hit and run rebels have gained control of substantial area of the Northeast large enough the size of Belgium and keeps advancing to major towns in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states apparently to enlarge their “caliphate”. Sad as it sounds, locals say most of the weapons the insurgents regale around with are courtesy of the runaway soldiers. Worthy of study however, is the claim by the runway soldiers that they are lacking in equipment of proportionate dimension to those of the insurgents. They say while they are given AK47 riffles with ammunitions not enough to sustain an hour engagement, the insurgents attack armed to the teeth with machine guns, submachine guns and rocket propelled grenades. All these and other winds of corruption allegations blowing from office windows of top military chiefs for misappropriating funds meant for military armament constitute greater challenges, more than ever to the Nigerian armed forces. That name which the Nigerian military made for themselves and the country in the past must be redeemed. For the country to sustain its “Giant of Africa” status, it must match its population advantages with a robust defense system alongside other development indices. The allegations of our armed forces being ill-equipped must be thoroughly investigated and those officers whose hands are soiled be made to face laws’ wrath to serve as deterrent for aspirants. Here, the need to have a change of leadership in Nigeria becomes a necessity. It is necessary because the present Commander-in-Chief cannot investigate, talk more about punish corrupt military chiefs who are his “partners in progress”. Under his command, corruption is not only legalised but also celebrated
The Challenges Before Nigerian Military
By Taneemou al-Gambari