… When politics get in the way of military matters, the nation suffers the most in terms of a disorganize armed forces…
For a sovereign nation, her security both in and around her territory is very crucial when the potential for encroachment or invasion is imminent. A structured and organized military will perform well compare to others which are disorganized and out of sync with how modern military work. Some countries are nonchalant when it has anything to do with professionalism in the armed forces. The Finance Department is always at the forefront of financial in discipline and recklessness.
Security comes in different forms. We have spiritual security, emotional security, financial security, global security, welfare security, medical security, food security, and national security. There are different methods of tackling these forms of securities with their own peculiar nature.
The main purpose of the military is to defend her territorial integrity so that foreign powers don’t invade and overthrow. The military men and women must defend till death because that’s what they have signed to do: to die for their country; to defend at all cost.
However, my aim is to discuss the problems facing Nigeria’s military and to proffer solutions as well. Again, how laxity in our country’s defense can have devastating impact on our overall well-being in the context of her national and geographical confidence. Nigeria is a big brother to other countries in Africa: West African states in particular and Africa in general. Moreover, Nigeria has participated in regional and broader African conflicts, ECOWAS and the African Union (AU) respectively.
Perhaps, with such achievements in the past, it is certain that our ratings in North America and Europe would have gone up the notch. Again, being the giant of Africa with the highest black population, Nigeria should be a contender for a permanent seat in the United Nations (UN) Security Council.
Having fought in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, and others, the most populous black nation-with diverse cultures and traditions-could be marching like a colossus; pride behind her back.
Now, the appearance of Boko Haram during the late Musa Yaradua/Goodluck Jonathan administration gave Nigeria a huge punch in the face based on the manner it gained control over her military. Our soldiers were less motivated as they were given outdated weapons and kits to confront the terrorist group. Sadly,with the dangerous weapons used by the terrorist group, it became apparent that the group would have an upper hand.
Instead of Nigeria’s soldiers to fight with pride and courage, cowardly, they dropped their weapons and ran to safety. Citizens in the midst of the conflicts were killed in their thousands, some caught in crossfire or through point-blank killings. Houses were burnt and properties worth millions destroyed. Consequently, those who managed to escape were rendered homeless. Internally Displaced Camps (IDCs) were set up in different parts of the north to cater for the homeless.
Negatively, these sad events gave Nigeria a bad name in the committee of nations. Military officers in the hierarchy of the Armed Forces were betraying their country by selling sensitive information to Boko Haram commanders. Yet, instead of the military to court-marshaled the erring officers, they were either given a pat on the back or lighter sentences were meted out to them. This can spur enmity in the country’s military hierarchy as it could be misconstrue as favoritism and tribalism.
Salient questions to ask are, how:
1. Did Nigeria as a country gets to this shameful level considering her achievements in the past?
2. Did Nigeria as the giant of Africa demoralized its military men and women in favor of selfish-monetary-gains?
3. Did Nigeria declined so low that countries that are supposed to accord her respect, refused to despite playing huge roles in bringing about stability in those countries?
4. Did the country’s military hierarchy refuse to pay pensions and gratuities due to those who had served this nation for more than two decades and are too old to work?
5. Did Nigeria’s top politicians and military officers embezzled funds budgeted for the purchase of military hardware and kits and nothing is done to prosecute those found guilty?
6. Did the various armed groups, sponsored by powerful politicians and businessmen, managed to incite religious and tribal sentiments from the different geopolitical regions of the country?
7. Can religious leaders help to dose the flame oozing from members of certain religious groups who had being brainwashed?
Questions like the ones above can shift focus of conflicts from the negative to the positive, hinged on the tripartite problems of politics, religion and tribalism.
Our borders are porous and the numbers of military personnel posted to keep the borders safe and secure are not adequate enough. Therefore, the illegal migration of migrants from neighboring states like Niger, Benin Republic, Cameroon, Chad, etc. without proper document to show to immigration when asked to, they became nuisance when they managed to sneak into the country. Armed groups brainwashed and recruit them for conflicts.
When nations are upgrading their military might through satellites launched into space or through training of military men and women abroad to update their knowledge, our politicians are busy fighting over money to be shared among one another. Building of military gadgets like choppers, armor tanks, assault rifles and kits can say a lot on how prepared a country is when disaster struck.
It is sad that countries are refusing to sell weapons to Nigeria because of suspicious claims that it won’t be used for the purpose intended. First was the United States of America (USA) and South Africa followed suit. Funds meant for the purchase were seized by the South African government. What a shame.
Furthermore, policy changes from the old to the new government; these inconsistencies can cause imbalance on how the state operate especially the Armed Forces. Nigeria is one country where party sentiments can destroy synergy of purpose towards a common cause. If a party takes power from another, it will lead to a dramatic turnaround of previous policies. And it will be back to square one. Consequently, when the new government fails, it will lead to the blame games: that the previous didn’t do what it was supposed to do. Taking responsibility for failure would be a difficult thing to do. Pride sets in and things begin to depreciate. Instead of taking responsibility and moving on, instead of setting things in motion and fixing loopholes, the new government neglect crucial priorities until things get out of hands.
The armed forces get in the mix and defense responsibilities suffer. Various armed groups take advantage of the confusion to launch their deadly plans which is to destabilize the government. However, before the government could realize what was going on, a lot of damages have been done. In a desperate move to fix things, lives are lost both in the military and civilian angle. Easily, territories are captured as there are no military personnel on ground to push back. It could take a long time for things to get under control.
That’s when the government realizes its mistakes and begins to accept her responsibilities.
Subordination in the military will refuse to go away if superiors keep leading with bad examples. Leaders are respected when they lead with trust and honesty. Nigeria’s subordination issues stem from lack of proper communication and feedbacks: the superiors keep deceiving those they are meant to lead, cutting corners to feed their taste for illicit wealth accumulation.
The way forward for our national security to be topnotch is for the Nigerian military to look inward and reevaluate the missing links in its operations. Stakeholders in military history and warfare should come together and share ideas on how to bring back Nigeria’s lost glories. What are the necessary ingredients that can be used to spice up our dwindling fortune as a nation? How can discipline and comradeship be brought back? Why is there so much decay in the military hierarchy? And is there a way strict codes of conduct can be introduced and imbibe by all military personnel? Failure to comply could be seen as in discipline and insubordination.
For Nigeria military to be a force to be reckoned with in the world, her military personnel should be given the best treatment as far as morale booster is concern. A force that is demoralized could be too weak to defend and attack. Better working conditions, quality kits, better weapons, and trust should be included in the midst. Consequently, the after-effect of these gestures could reflect positively on the performance of these military men.
Still, the government should be consistent with her policy implementations. New government should take up and improve on the policy left behind by their predecessors. Party loyalty should be set aside and the greater good should be the engine that drives progress and prosperity.
When politics get in the way of military matters, the nation suffers the most in terms of a disorganize armed forces, an undisciplined subordinates and a porous territory where her sovereignty swayed on a shaky ground.
For politician and military personnel who are in the habit of diverting funds, they should be made to face their crimes. Giving lighter sentences is akin to encouraging them to steal the more. Giving them heavy punishment will serve as a deterrent to others who are tempted to dip their hands in the national coffer. When a pickpocket steals a pen, he is given Jungle Justice, but when our politicians steal money, they are celebrated with royalty.
Training of personnel through attendance of periodic courses abroad should be encouraged. This will deepen their knowledge of military warfare and maneuvering. It will give them fresh perspectives on how their counterparts abroad apply tactical and technical approach to tackling logical problems associated with decision-making and executions
To conclude, Nigeria being the most populous black nation on earth should start winning back her respect, dignity and pride vis-a-vis her participation in international and regional conflicts. Her foreign policies should be re-evaluated as it pertain to her military involvement in conflict resolution.