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Published On: Mon, Jul 21st, 2014

One billion dollars loan and matters arising

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By Edwin Ekene Uhara

The debate over the plan by President Goodluck Jonathan to source $1 billion loan to fund the on-going military campaign against Boko Haram insurgency and other related security challenges facing the country is needless. It is needless because in fighting a war of this magnitude, enough resources are required to win the battle. It will be recalled that on Wednesday, July 16 2014, President Jonathan asked the National Assembly to approve government plan to take $1 billion loan to help in the prosecution of the on-going war against insurgency in the country.

Since then, both the conventional media and the social media has been a washed with different reactions; a development that prompted the Director-General of National Orientation Agency (NOA) as well as the Coordinator of the National Information Centre, Mr Mike Omeri to quickly set the records straight. He said: “The request was made because the military needs to re-stock. All countries do it and it is not for the Nigerian government to go and collect cash from somebody. It is a long term arrangement which most super powers of the world including the United States have exploited”. “This long process to be put together by the Federal Government is to ensure that there is transparency in it and that it is used for the purpose it is meant for. The loan is not just to fight Boko Haram but to re-stock the Armed Forces.”

Before now, Nigerians have been emphasising on the need to increase our military personnel and armament so as to be able to confront and defeat the security challenge posed by the menace of insurgency. For example, Sam Nda-Isaiah in one of his weekly commentaries in Leadership Newspaper has this to say “For decades, Nigeria has maintained a police force of 370,000 personnel. This is shameful for a country of 173 million people. For a start, we must immediately increase the nation’s police strength to a minimum of 1, 000, 000 personnel. Ultimately, Nigeria will need 4, 000, 000 well trained and well-armed police officers. And these must be recruited from Nigeria’s teeming unemployed graduates”.

While still emphasizing the need to increase our military strength, MrNda-Isaiah re-echoed what President Jonathan had earlier revealed in one of his official functions about our military strength. He said “In 1969, at the height of the civil war, Nigeria with a population of 56.1 million had 250, 000 soldiers.” But now, what do we have? We have 100, 000 soldiers with a population of about 173 million; and the President has asked the National Assembly to approve $1 billion plan to get credit to execute the on-going military campaign, some Nigerians are raising their eyebrows on the matter, even when it is glaring that our defence sector needs more personnel, money, training and procurement of more modern military hardware so as to confront the unfolding security challenges terrorism and its allies presents!

As we can see, the nature and pattern of warfare have changed globally; unlike in the past where the army was fighting a known and a visible enemy, what confronts us now is a travesty of the past! We are facing terrorist organisations whose main objective is to disorganise, humiliate and destroy lives and properties using guerrilla tactics. So, we can see that the use of Armoured Personnel Carrier and other combatant military hardware are obsolete! Hence, as realities change, we must assess such realities and make amends to get the desired results. This is why more advanced countries spend their huge budgets on new technologies as well as training personnel in line with the new trend. For example, the Obama Administration made a departure from the usual way of fighting war by investing heavily on intelligence gathering as well as acquisition and use of unmanned aircrafts known as drones. That is why the US Army can cause confusion in the camps of the

Taliban in Afghanistan or the camps of Hezbollah in Lebanon without boots on ground.

Funny enough, Nigerians have been calling for intelligence gathering in fighting insurgency, but here comes a President that has heeded their calls by asking the National Assembly to approve the $1 billion plan for the exercise, yet some are criticising the move.

Besides, why the President asked the National Assembly for the approval is because, the need for the expenditure was not captured in the budget. Hence, if the president should re-channel the defence money to the new area, it will amount to something else; so, to avoid situations like that, the President acted right. Therefore, the President being law abiding knows what he is doing and why he is doing it. Instead of chastising him, we should join him in his altruistic efforts to dislodge, disorganise, dismantle and defeat the enemies of our peace and freedom by asking the National Assembly to approve the $1 billion plan.

Edwin Ekene Uhara via edwinuhara@rocketmail.com

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