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Published On: Fri, Nov 7th, 2014

A need for internally displaced soldiers’ camp

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COAS-Gen-Kenneth-MinimahBy Jaafar Jaafar.

Safiya! Three battalions fled Mubi. Mubi just had a new barracks built. It was chosen to be the new HQ to coordinate operations to recover lost territory. Few days before BH captured it, FG sent heavy artilleries to the military. Three battalions of military consists nothing less than 1,000 troops, and yet they fled without putting in a good fight. I don’t know why they fled but whatever the reason, it must be investigated. How can 5 commanders leave their duty and flee? Doesn’t that raise serious questions? It’s either they’re so fearful or do not want to fight for their country. If the latter is the case, clearly they don’t belong in the army. It’s heartbreaking. You’ve not seen anything yet until you see for yourself how the IDP’s look in Yola.

We have budgeted at least 1 trillion Naira. That’s a lot of money to be looted for them. Politicians, military and Defence chiefs are all benefiting. The low ranking officers are paying with their lives while the ones at the helm of affairs are looting the funds meant to equip them. How can terrorists come out better kitted and with more vehicles and men than our troops? It says something. Maybe the Govt is not behind BH but they’re certainly not up to the task of stopping them. They have not shown the determination and courage and this raises a lot of doubts as regards the administration’s political will. Like I said, I’m tired!

The above lines were sent to a social media friend Safiya Stephanie Musa, who shared it on her timeline recently. Whether the statement is true or untrue, it raises some vital questions regarding the nation’s woes. It also tells of lamentations and the frustrations of ordinary Nigerian over Boko Haram terrorism.

Boko Haram’s persistent incursion into the Nigeria’s territory is sending a loud signal that the nation may soon be consumed by the terrorists. The deafening sound of their explosives should have been a wake-up call to our leaders — a kind of stimulant not depressant. Perhaps the sound is not enough to wake them up and the destruction is not enough to prick their conscience.

The nation has been in grief since the debut of the violent Islamic sect. People living in the hotbed of terrorism are mourning. Out there, the leaders may be moaning in fortified mansions. I’ve severally asked myself why Nigeria still can’t crush Boko Haram. My mind gives me this poser: Can’t you see the reason for the public school decay? Why would they worry about our schools when their children are studying in Geneva?

In terms of spread, and perhaps magnitude, Nigeria never had this calamity even during the civil war. Like a minor security challenge, the Boko Haram fire started raging in Maiduguri, then moved to Yobe, spread to Adamawa, cut a swath through Bauchi, advanced to Kano, spiralled to Jigawa, snowballed to Gombe, forayed into Abuja, travelled to Lagos, strode to Kaduna, spotted in Katsina, occurred in Sokoto, flared in Niger, name it. A little spark has now turned to conflagration.

Fact of the matter is that Nigeria is at war when the nation is rudderless. We are in dire situation when the leader has dire incompetence. What we have is not even a puppet leader but a mannequin made to appear like a president. President Jonathan is a terrible misfit for a presidential office. But the problem with Nigeria is elevating someone to the highest position when he lacks the leadership capacity or the clout to be the chairman of motor park union.

Owing to this god-forsaken situation, nowhere is safe in Nigeria. Previously, the safest place to seek refuge during crisis was military barracks. Now they are the most vulnerable places one could hide. In the past, we looked down upon Chadians, Nigeriens, Cameroonians and Ghanaians with disdain and derision. Now it is the other way round. Nigerians are now refugees in Chad, Niger and Cameroun. Our soldiers too seek refuge there. In Nigeria, we have a record 3.3 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDP). This is mainly caused by the Boko Haram conflagration that is ravaging the North East. Quoting a report by the Internally Displaced Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) tagged “Global Overview 2014: people internally displaced by conflict and violence”, Premium Times reported that “the number of internally displaced persons in Nigeria is approximately a third of the IDPs in Africa and 10 per cent of IDPs in the world”.

Why do Nigerian troops often wait for Boko Haram to come and take over the towns? It beats me! Once you chose take a reactive measure against proactive measure, you are liable to be consumed by your inaction. Since the capture of these towns, I haven’t heard of any attempt by the Nigerian forces to recapture the places. They instead wait until they are attacked, or rather fled when the terrorists charge toward them.

Apart from Konduga, where the insurgents were successfully repelled by the Nigerian forces, all of the towns captured by the terrorists still remain under their grip. Towns still under the control of the terrorists are Ngala, Bama, Kala-Balge, Dikwa, and Gwoza in Borno State, just as Gujba and Gulani in Yobe State fell to them. In Adamawa State, Mubi, Madagali, Michika have been taken over by the insurgents. According to Daily Trust, “Boko Haram insurgents have so far seized control of over 20,000 square kilometres of territory in three North Eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa”.

The area, the paper explained, “is larger than Imo, Abia and Ekiti states put together, as big as Bayelsa and bigger than Gombe State”. One report says Sambisa forest alone is bigger than the whole Lagos State.

As Boko Haram terrorists surged into Mubi, eye witnesses say that Nigerian troops abandoned their weapons and joined civilians to flee to safety. Soldiers were seen flagging down civilian vehicles not to search for weapons but to beg for a hitch-hike. Where are we heading to in this country?

The Chief of Defence Staff Alex Badeh recently announced that they had reached a cease-fire agreement with Boko Haram and urged his men to abide by the order. Hear him: “Without any prejudice to the outcome of our three-day interactions and the conclusions of this forum, I wish to inform this audience that a ceasefire agreement has been concluded between the federal government of Nigeria and the Ahlul Sunna Lid Daawati Wal Jihad. I have accordingly directed the service chiefs to ensure immediate compliance with this development in the field”.

With this coming from the horse’s mouth, why should the soldiers disobey Badeh’s orders and risk being charged with mutiny? The CDS is simply telling the soldiers to leave their bases and not to attack the terrorists again.

But where should our soldiers go when they fled from their barracks? Ain’t there need for a camp for internally displaced soldiers?

 

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