“The Army should not be the fall guy in the rot, occasioned by many years of neglect In the country. The military like ordinary Nigerian is also a victim of the level of decadence and its associated vices over the years and it can’t be rectified overnight”
BEING THE TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE COALITION OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS, ON THE STATE OF THE NATION AND THE LATEST CALL FOR THE SACK OF SERVICE CHIEFS.
Gentlemen of the Press,
Our Coalition, a conglomerate of 16 Civil Society organisations, view as uncharitable, the latest call by a fraction of the Northern Elders and some politicians, for the sack of Service Chiefs in the wake of the recent nationwide protests by some young Nigerians, demanding an end to the extra judicial killings of the Special Anti Robbery Squad SARS, of the Nigerian Police and an end, to police Brutality in the country.
We view the latest call, as another highly partisan position and a clear attempt at politicising an otherwise unfortunate situation, a moment that demands national cohesion. The present moment, judging by the events of the past few weeks, which has witnessed series of attack on Nigeria’s territorial integrity and successful resistance by our armed forces, particularly the Nigerian army, ordinarily should attract concerns and sympathy rather than this politically motivated call.
We wonder why this so called elders and their collaborating politicians, are choosing a youth protest against the conduct of the Police, to make the selfish demand while the people of the Northeast and other critical stakeholders are working with government stakeholders, to find an enduring end to insurgency and other criminalities in the country.
Furthermore, we view this call as an attempt at demoralising the nation’s armed forces and its leadership who are currently engaged in tackling series of insurgencies and internal security challenges, many of which are politically motivated, by some self-serving politicians and their sympathisers.
We are really dismayed, over the inability of these elders, to acknowledge the efforts and landmark achievements that have been made by the Nigerian military in the fight against insurgency, and other form of banditry across the nation, over the past few month.
The call for the removal of Service Chiefs at this defining moment in our history leaves much to be desired. Let not forget that the Boko Haram insurgents are lurking around waiting to strike. If we lowered our guard by acceding to the call of those who want the Service Chiefs removed, it may spell doom.
The senator representing Borno North, Ali Ndume, has said times without number that the military lacks the required and modern equipment needed to prosecute the war against the insurgents. He also explained that the budget of the army is inadequate. He also talks about the manpower. The military is overstretched already. Sen Ndume is the chairman of senate committee on the Army. So he’s conversant with the plight of the Nigerian army. What of motivation? The army budget is too small compare to other countries that are not even facing Nigerian situation (fighting insurgency, banditry, cattle rustling & kidnapping) on the continent.
If we are reforming the police which is the standing force for the internal security and calling for the sack of Service Chiefs at the same time. Is that not an anarchy? We have to be careful here not to play into the hands of those who want to wreck the ship of the defense of the country. The army is already overstretched, if we allow fifth columnist and agent of destabilization to have their way, it may spell doom for the country.
The #EndSARS protests across the country is symptomatic of the evils bedeviling our governance structure in the country. Even the governor of Lagos, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his Delta counterpart, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa admitted that much when they met with the protesters in Lagos and Asaba that there’s need to listen to the youths.
The EndSARS campaign is just a trigger of the crisis in education, healthcare, lack of infrastructure, unemployment and underemployment in Nigeria.
The Army should not be the fall guy in the rot, occasioned by many years of neglect In the country. The military like ordinary Nigerian is also a victim of the level of decadence and its associated vices over the years and it can’t be rectified overnight.
The level of decadence in our polity will take awhile to be fine tune. The incessant calls for the removal of Service Chiefs at every turn without giving them equipment and budget that will compliment their gallant efforts is capable of lowering the morale of the officers and men at the Theatre of Operation. We also need to look at the sacrifices they have made to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria in term of number of casualties they have suffered and still facing challenges.
Recently, a commander of a troop, Col Bako paid the supreme sacrifice. He was ambushed and killed. His troops also lost some men to the rampaging Boko Haram. If we had modern equipment like drones and attack helicopters, there would have been a clearance operation to clear all the land mines before they proceed on the operation where they were ambushed and killed.
Babajide Ogunsanwo, Channelstv Data analyst during the review recently made it clear that the army is underfunded. He said even if we remove the service Chiefs without adequate funding, it will not make any difference.He drew analysis that even during the civil war(Biafran War) Nigeria spent more ( in term of equipment and manpower) than now, with myriads of security issues.
We need to rejig the structure of the country and our leadership recruitment. The army is grossly underfunded.
We are also calling on the Federal Government to improve its financial obligations to the nation’s Armed Forces in other to improve their capacity towards effectively tackling the unfortunate crisis being witnessed in some parts of the country.
This time is sensitive and we must remain careful as Nigerians, in order to avoid falling for the antics of these politicians, whose interests are built around elections, and not nation building.