By Odimegwu Onwumere
The Defence Headquarters had on August 6 2020 said that Nigerians have no reason to fear the United States of America’s alarm that the Islamic terrorist Al-Qaeda and ISIS are on a mission to settle in Southern Nigeria and that the Al-Qaeda elements were already in the north-western part of the country.
The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, while fielding newsmen with questions in Abuja, characterised the USA outcry as a mere alarm, adding that the Nigerian security agencies were on top of the situation and are equal to the task.
The Army added that Nigerians had no reason to entertain any fear. But it is very disturbing that such a wishful hope could be given to Nigerians by the Army when combined security agencies in Nigeria were finding it very difficult to suppress internal security challenges, let alone, fighting such dreadful terrorists’ organisations such as the Al-Qaeda and ISIS, which have been giving international powers, with all their modern technologies in information gathering, some headache to eradicate.
While the Army was making a boast of having the wherewithal to fight Al-Qaeda and ISIS, on Wednesday and Thursday (Aug. 5-6) alone, police said that no fewer than 21 persons were killed by supposedly Fulani militia in some villages in Zango Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State. Contrary to that figure by the police, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, a civil organisation in the area the shoddy incident happened, rebuffed police’s information and said that it was 33 persons that were killed, not 21 persons.
The killings have been a recurring decimal in a country with trained military and also police. Anyway, the later has been on the truculent index with records of inadequacies, therefore the military has taken the place of police whereas police, have literarily taken the place of Boys Scout or Man-O-War. Nigerians continue to watch Nigeria ebbing into some ill-natured state in the history of the country.
As at the time of writing this piece, no arrest was so far made in connection with the killings; just as many other incidents before this were swept under the carpet. In Southern Kaduna, the affected communities left to nurse their wound were given as Apyia’Shyim, A’Piako, Atak’Mawei, and Kibori, all in Atyap Chiefdom of Zangon Kataf LGA.
Governor Zulum of Borno state recently escaped attack by suspected terrorists (or was it soldiers?) Disturbed by that experience, the governor didn’t hide his displeasure over military formation in his state but especially in Baga, hence he was pushed to state that he might establish hunters to fight terrorism in the area. This statement is too big to explain that the Nigerian Army might have been reduced to a level where hunters come first in discerning minds when the issue of fighting insecurity is mentioned.
The inconsiderateness of Maj-Gen Enenche on insecurity in Nigeria is second to none, given his Greek Gift called hope for Nigerians against Al-Qaeda, ISIS in Nigeria. By that, one wonders if the Army had also enlisted as a political party in Nigeria because their officers’ words were always semblance with those of typical Nigerian politicians. For instance, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai had in July said that the insecurity situation that was replete in the country was under control.
The President, Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari on July 31 dashed the remnant hope Nigerians had on security challenges, when he said after performing Eid prayers in Abuja that his government had done its best on insecurity. This typically translates that this government had exhausted every strategies on insecurity, but here was one Maj-Gen Enenche giving Nigerians hope against Al-Qaeda, ISIS in Nigeria. Hooey!
Even the Daura in Katsina, the home town and state of Buhari, were always under attack. This is to say, but the list, that Nigeria is under lock in the hands of terrorists or whatever name they are given. Nigerians still experience killings, kidnappings, bandits, cattle rustling upon many assurances the Army had given that Nigeria was safe. Nigerians witnessed an attack on a United Nation aid helicopter in North-east Nigeria by terrorists in July in which 2 persons lost their lives, upon assurances by not only the COAS, but, also, the presidency, saying that insecurity in Nigeria had been arrested.
The truth is that the authorities such as the Army and presidency will never give up in their rather misleading tactics by saying that terrorists are always fighting back to prove a point that they are on ground whereas they have been defeated. You wonder who has been defeated! It was such an excuse that Buhari gave when terrorists attacked peace-loving Nigerians and U.N. humanitarian workers. Buhari saw the attack as desperation by Boko Haram in making sure the world believe they are still on ground.
Juxtaposing to that, Nigerians without a doubt read in the news when Buratai said that he had relocated to Katsina in order to push and make sure that the new Operation Sahel Sanity was a success in curbing the killings of residents in Katsina communities suspected to be the handiwork of bandits who have in the recent times been a thorn in the neck of residents in the entire North-west region. Upon that, Nigerians have not woken up each day (after the political relocation of Buratai?) without hearing any forms of killings of hapless citizens either by Boko Haram, Bandits or Fulani Herdsmen.
In all of this, it is believed that the Army had gone through over 40 different operations and exercises in the last 5 years to fight security challenges to a halt, yet success seems some miles away to be recorded. Many of such operations by the Army were code-named, yet there is no maneuver of relieve that security is about to be sustained. What is happening in Nigeria, security-wise, is a testament that Nigeria is operating a flawed system in which corruption has eaten subterranean into the fabrics of all sections, including the Army.
Nigerians have watched video clips of soldiers in the warfront in the North-east crying over lack of logistics which resulted to the Army hierarchy disciplining such soldiers by means of transfer or absolute court marshal. The most recent one was a report in which a frustrated soldier said was in the frontline of the fight against Boko Haram fighters was delayed ‘gate pass’ hence he shot his superior, killing him, before he was arrested. Similar story with soldiers is replete in Nigeria.
In other climes, it is the responsibility of the government and its agencies to be sincere in their dealings and relay what they are doing to the citizens in honesty, but this is yet to be the case in Nigeria. This is a country where the citizens have not seen what has not happened except good governance. No one is talking about the police here because if the Army which is well-fortified in war affairs is gasping for breath to show its expertise against insecurity, then police is a light feather weight.
It is pertinent to state that the Army has a lot of shortcomings in Nigeria even while posing as if all is well with them. The Ministry of Defence might not be telling the world what they do with their funding which has unequivocally led to unsuccessful outings in their operations but especially, such as the Operation Lafia Dole to Operation Tawase. One army Major-General once divulged in one his public presentations that the shortcomings the military recorded in each of their operations, they never kept quiet but discussed it and contributions had been made by good-spirited members of the council and by so doing, they had change in conduct of their affairs in the Ministry of Defence.
You can see what the Nigerian system has reduced the military to, while record has it that the defence sector has had larger of Nigeria’s budget, which was usually larger than education and health. It is essential to state that with the behaviour of the military in their fight with Boko Haram insurgents in the North-east, armed bandits in the North-west and North-central, they may not have the tramping methodology to fight Al-Qaeda, ISIS.
Nigeria may not have a military devoid of corruption and insecurity, military that is not divided between primordial, communal, civic, or religious lines. This is harmfully affecting socioeconomic development in the defence sector. These are the reasons Nigerians have to be afraid of Al-Qaeda, ISIS. Nigerians have every reason to be afraid because since independence, corruption has been endemic in Nigeria. Yes. There are predatory elites and today, christened cabals. These predators are just after self-enrichment, accumulating unnecessary wealth.
Well, this piece might not be intended to proffer solutions on what the Army should do to win the war against terrorists because they know what to do if they have not shown Nigerians through their various dwindling outcomes that they have been compromised. This piece is rather to unveil that with the many failed strategies in the fight against terrorists, the Army should stop deceiving Nigerians that they are on top gear to handle Al-Qaeda, ISIS which the USA a fortnight cried out are penetrating Nigeria and the rest of West Africa.
. Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers state