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Published On: Tue, Aug 26th, 2014

Mutiny: Who failed to equip soldiers?

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COAS-Gen-Kenneth-MinimahBy Jamila Nuhu Musa

The Chief of Army Staff, (COAS), Lt. Gen Kenneth Minimah few days ago threatened to exert his authority, his immense military power on 40 mutinous soldiers for daring to disobey the order to serve in Maiduguri, Borno state. Their refusal according to reports was not unconnected with the fact that Soldiers lack “efficient, sufficient weapon and ammunition to fight insurgents in Borno.

Taking a cue from their husbands, some army officers’ wives also, attempted to stop their spouses from being deployed to the volatile areas of Borno to fight insurgency, again, because their husbands don’t have superior weapon to face Boko Haram, and they had seen how this led to body bags of felled Soldiers that were brought to the Barracks, making most of the women widows in their prime.

Worried about the trend however, Minimah warned that any Soldier, who dared to engage in any such act, would face the firing squad. Simply put, the consequence for mutiny is death sentence. He was addressing Officers and Men of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, asking them to desist from any form of mutiny in the face of the ongoing campaign against the Boko Haram sect.

But Nigerians do not share the sentiments of Minimah no matter what the military says about mutiny, not with the way the Nigerian Army has been handling the country’s security situation and certainly, not with the damning reports lately, from the northeast. For instance, report that said “the insurgents, large in number, and using rocket –propelled launchers, Improvised Explosive Devises (IEDs) and petrol bombs invaded some communities in Madagali in Adamawa state, sacking the communities and hoisting their own flags”, with many innocent people killed and many houses destroyed in the process is a chilling account of what happened there.

Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau also said the sect had created an Islamic Caliphate in the northeast town of Gwoza earlier this month; he backed his claim with a video obtained by AFP.

Though the Army has calmed frayed nerves of Nigerians by saying that it reclaimed Madagali from the sect and is re-strategizing, still, many are of the opinion that insurgency may not end soon. So why won’t Nigerians believe Soldiers when they say they lacked superior power to fight insurgency?

A Security Analyst, Captain Umar Aliyu (Rtd), threw up many questions when in X-raying the security situation in the country, suggested that the Gwoza fight should be a clarion call for the military to wake up from its slumber. He sees the “Gwoza incident as another phase of insurgency”, within the insurgency perhaps, and urged the military to see it as a window of opportunity to tackle insurgency in the northeast instead of threatening soldiers.

As a guest on a national Television, the security expert in his contribution to finding solutions to insurgency posed this question- Why Gwoza? And posited that “It may be a place where more things may happen as insurgency progresses”. He therefore, suggested that the Nigerian Military should take a hard look at Gwoza, stating categorically that it is a warning signal to Defence headquarters.

Capt Umar Aliyu Rtd, in observing the Nigeria soldier said “the Nigerian soldier of today is not the Zombie type of soldier, rank and file that the Afro beat legend, Fela Anikulapo sang about. That Zombie is long extinct. Today’s Nigerian soldier is aware of happenings in the military and conversant with the way their counterparts in other countries look, how they are being looked after and held in high esteem. Our soldiers go outside the country and see other soldiers properly dressed and armed”.

In other words, Nigeria’s today’s soldier is aware that a total of N130.7bn was allocated by the Federal Government for the needs of military operations by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) during January to April 2014 as confirmed by Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, during a press briefing on the details of the country’s budget, when it was signed.

“The minister confirmed that the welfare of the armed forces was among the top priorities of the Federal Government. She also added that Jonathan’s administration understood the importance of proper funding due to the ongoing war against Boko Haram insurgency in the country. The breakdown of the budget in this regard showed that N85.9bn was personnel cost and N44.8bn, overheads and capital expenditure. So, if “today’s soldier”, knows that almost a trillion was released by the federal government for their operations during the period under review why would they keep quiet about not having sophisticated weapon to perform their role as soldiers?

Not only does the security expert, despite his experience in the army, believe that it is constructive to be blunt about the issue of lack of sophisticated arms and ammunition to fight insurgency, he also believes that Nigerian soldiers deserve to be treated with utmost respect in the way their welfare is handled.

Dwelling on the Sociology of military operations, Capt. Umar Aliyu said looking at the images of the video of Boko Haram and how the insurgents were seen calling the shots in Gwoza even as people scampered to safety, it would be difficult for Nigerians, after seeing the video clips not to agree that indeed, Gwoza was taken by Boko Haram. He identified some factors necessary to enhance performance of soldiers facing insurgency, like feeding- How do the troops eat? What are their personal hygiene needs? Are their cloth types suited to the weather in Gwoza, like the insurgents who know the weather and terrain unlike the soldiers who were drafted?

Capt. Umar Aliyu Rtd, called for a cocktail of solutions by the Nigerian Army with other security operatives namely, the immigration, police, civil defence instead of having civilians form a taskforce to scuttle insurgency, a task which has taken a toll on civilians in the region, and a development which he said could make one weep for Nigeria.

Capt Umar Aliyu’s final word for the military was “You must have a think tank to drive security operatives in the country; you must have feedback from the solder using the fire arms for example, what is your firepower and range”?

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