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Published On: Wed, Nov 5th, 2014

Badeh: A Chief without chiefdom

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Nigerian Air Marshal Alex BadehBy Ali M. Ali.

The Chief of Defence Staff Alex Badeh must be, truly, a troubled man. Insurgents’ elements are making him appear undeserving of the epaulet of an ‘Air Marshal’ lavishly splashed on his broad shoulders. How could Boko Haram embarrass him like this? Taking over his ancestral home in Vimtim, and hoisting their flag is a double affront. They took the battle literally to his doorstep. Expectedly, Shekau the ‘abiku’ in his latest video, is mercilessly mocking and taunting. A ‘Chief without a chiefdom’ appears to be the lot of Badeh.

This is the time the battle becomes personal. This is the time he flies a fighter jet and bombs these irreverent chaps to perdition and reclaims his chiefdom and pride among his continental peers.

Let me stress this. Badeh is not an ordinary soldier. He is the ‘Chief of Defence Staff. All the nation’s military might bow before him. All the defence staff as in the Army, Navy and his home turf, Air force, responds to his beckon pronto and with gusto. He is the nation’s number one soldier. His beefy presence is a microcosm and embodiment of the nation’s defence. But all this eminence is being rubbished by his failure to secure his ‘home front’.

It is a cruel irony that a defence chief and an air Marshal couldn’t ‘marshal’ sufficient muscle to chase and permanently keep out a misguided bunch with guns and guts from his ancestral domain in particular and the nation in general. Is it that these goons with guns have greater gumption than the better trained Badeh and his defence staff?

Or is it sheer incompetence? Questions and more questions. The seeming ease insurgents took over swathes of land including Badeh’s hometown give credence to tempting conspiracy theories. One such is the widely circulated one of an evil alliance between terrorists and a close-knit circle of hawks in government to stall the impending election. Before the systematic conquests of territories last week, no less than the Senate President hinted of the possibility of no election on account of insurgency. So with escalating restiveness in the northeast where support for a chronically underperforming government is thin a ready excuse is made available to constitutionally extend the life of the regime.

This theory is attractive the more considering the ease with which Mubi fell to these benighted souls soon after heavy military hardware has been taken to the ‘war front. No less a person than chubby cheek Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Finance Minister made this public. Now the insurgents are more armed and no less dangerous. The very unkind conspiracy theorists insist that the weaponry so acquired at great costs to the Nigerian people was tactfully delivered whilst a bogus cease-fire deal was been discussed.

Several eyewitnesses’ accounts as reported by the BBC recount how demoralized soldiers fled leaving behind these prized weaponry in the barracks of the conquered territories. The informed are agreed that the current government is a greater pestilence than the Boko Haram plague hounding the Northeast in particular. By its action and inaction, it has encouraged and manipulated the fault lines to the hilt. Nigerians are not human unless they take the form of these fault lines. These tags help make some people sleep at night.

I am astounded. I am, truly, mystified. How could a ragtag army like the Boko Haram elements repeatedly give our army, once upon a time, Africa’s best, a bloody nose and at will? How did we get to this lamentable state? Questions like these make one to take another look at Badeh and his grandstanding.

Soon as he took charge as CDS, he promised to end the insurgency in a matter of months. Amid thunderous applause and in front of television cameras, he thumped his chest and proclaimed that the end of insurgency was nigh high. He was soon to recant.

I was sucked in like most patriots. As Air Force Chief, his men did pretty well in fighting terrorists from the air. But no sooner than he became CDS, he began speaking tongue-in-cheek. He did and said all the wrong things. He became needlessly garrulous.

Consider if you may, this. Soon after the Chibok girls were abducted he told distraught parents that the military knew where the girls were. It turned out a hoax. Badeh announced the latest cease-fire con. Those in the know say that the Nigerian authorities were deceived into believing that truly there could be a deal. So without cross checking they went to town with the story.

This haste confirms one fact. The CDS can’t truly lead the charge to uproot insurgency. It is time he either resigned or gets sacked. There are two plagues hounding the nation. One, a grievously ill equipped military embodied in the Badeh syndrome and a rapaciously selfish elite embodied by the President himself. These are the twin evils fuelling the unending insurgency and heightening insecurity.

Ordinary citizens are caught in this vortex.


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