29 June 2014

Nigeria: The Military and Nigeria's Defence


The military high command owes the nation a duty in ensuring that the Armed Forces are properly trained, well equipped and duly organized to meet the constitutional dictates of protecting the sovereignty of Nigeria.

Revelations about the Nigerian military, in the face of the security challenges, calls for serious concern, given the need for an all-time preparedness of the Armed Forces to defend the territorial integrity of the country against external aggressions. Reports abound of obsolete equipment, lack of modern technology and arsenal as well as ill-motivation and a near-zero welfare package for security personnel. In a 21st century world, this is a matter of grave security implications, as the Boko Haram insurgency has revealed.

Could the reports, truly, be the state of the Nigerian military? As if to confirm the appalling situation, the Presidential Fact-finding Committee on the abduction of the Chibok girls, in submitting their report to President Goodluck Jonathan according a media report indicted the military for the kidnap of the girls. The committee headed by Brig. Gen. Ibahim Sambo, came down heavily on the military for not responding to intelligence report before the attack on Chibok.

The Nigerian military is described, by international defence experts and analysts, as: "A large, complex organization; it contains a number of contradictions, incongruities and internal disjunction. The largest, most capable military in West Africa, with major foreign deployments under ECOWAS and the AU, as well as extensive UN peace keeping commitments. However, chronic under-resourcing has led to low operational readiness, lack of training and relatively poor conditions of service. These problems, along with endemic corruption, have made the Nigerian military somewhat of a hollow giant resting on its reputation - more capable than any other force in the sub-region, but considerably less capable that it should be with tens of thousands of troops and a large stock of major weapon systems and other equipments."

In the face of the present security challenges against the background of the military performance, this Newspaper, agrees no less, with the summation of the defence experts. The Nigerian military is a contradiction of what it should and ought to be. With a population of about 170 million people, what is the personnel strength of the Army, Navy and the Airforce? Is their armory or arsenal in tune with modern equipment and technology? Within what time-frame can the military mobilize a contingent of the army to battle or scramble jet-fighters in defence of the airspace or navigate warships to protect our territorial waters? In short, how prepared is the military in defence of Nigeria?

We agree that modern warfare does not demand large assembly of men but a highly compact and technologically oriented personnel backed by cutting-edge technology. Is the Nigerian military abreast with present-day realities? It is on this note, we wish to draw the attention of the Federal Government to the fact that since 2011, the yearly security budgets have been on an average of N900 billion. That translates to a whopping N3.6 trillion in the four years. With these heavy investments on security, the Jonathan's administration has no excuse in not giving Nigerians a modern-day combat-ready military; except otherwise, the endemic corruption ate up the defence budgets.

Therefore, the reports of an ill-equipped, poorly-trained and poorly-motivated military, as the reason for the inability to crush the Boko Haram insurgency, is not only an indictment on the administration; it calls for immediate action to overhaul the military with a view to repositioning it for an up-to-date national defence mechanism. If we can not win the war against Boko Haram insurgency, what is the fate of the country in the event of external aggression? Let us not forget that other countries are keeping abreast of the situation reports in Nigeria. We never can tell which country will become an aggressor tomorrow.

While we do not hold the media reports as sacrosanct, we, however, see iota of facts in them. For instance, the mutiny in Maimalari Barracks, Maiduguri, against the GOC 7-Division, was by personnel who alleged betrayal, non-payment of allowances and the use of obsolete equipments in prosecuting the war against Boko Haram. What else does that portend? Though we wish to admonish the media to be circumspect in their reports of military operations because of its larger security implications, the military high command owes the nation a duty in ensuring that the Armed Forces are properly trained, well equipped and duly organized to meet the constitutional dictates of protecting the sovereignty of Nigeria.

Besides, we want to call on the national assembly to live up to its responsibility; do an audit to ascertain the true state of the military as well as the judicious use or otherwise of the defence budgets in the past four years. The reports, thus far, on the state of the Nigerian military demand nothing but the truth. This should be the moment of truth.

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