“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” (Martin Luther King Junior). In Nigeria, the more we keep talking, the more the issues die silently shortly after talking about them. But we won’t keep silent about the things that matter, so that our lives won’t begin to end.
Fellow Nigerians, our Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai after five years of his appointment with a mandate to crush Boko Haram that is instead now crushing our soldiers, has this to tell us. “If Nigerians want it to end today, I can assure you it will end today if everybody joins hands because these bandits are not outside Nigeria, they are not from foreign land” (Premium Times, by Alfred Olufemi, July 20th, 2020).
It was on June 18th, that president Buhari suddenly realized that the Service Chiefs’ best is not good enough. Although he may have realized that because it obviously has become clear to him that his own State of Katsina is now on ravage by insecurity. But was Buhari’s statement backed with action? If it were backed with action, why would the Army Chief appear in the presidential villa barely a month after the president’s expression of lack of satisfaction in the fight against insecurity, to tell Nigerians that Nigerians are the ones that will put an end to the fight? Is that not a clear case of failure?
From Buhari’s reaction to Nigerian Service Chiefs on June 18th, when he said, “Your best is not good enough.” I think the normal and responsible thing for him to have done, would have been to ask them to step aside, while some other persons would be appointed to bring in fresh ideas. But the reverse has been the case. Only for Buratai to return a month after with worsening insecurity situation to tell Nigerians that we are the ones to end insecurity.
Does he want us to take up arms and go into the forests, and areas where the ambush keep taking place, and start crushing the bandits, and terrorists for our supposed soldiers who are trained for that purpose? The same man who claimed that it is not the duty of the army to expose Boko Haram sponsors but to crush Boko Haram. Is he now telling us to start giving them information to expose Boko Haram, and their sponsors? Boko Haram members live in the forests. Only their sponsors, and informants may be living in neighborhoods. But he is not interested in the sponsors being exposed. So, is his clarion call not a contradiction?
This is indeed shameful.
However, I think there is more to this war that Nigerians do not know. But like I would always say, only time shall tell.
Be that as it may, let us analyze the following.
A worsening situation after five years:
With Buhari’s ‘change’ mantra, many voted for him in 2015. And for the first time, the opposition party unseated the ruling party, thereby ending the latter’s 16yrs of power.
In his inaugural speech, on May 29th, 2015, Buhari, among other things, gave a marching order to the Armed Forces to relocate their operational headquarters to the theatre of war at Baga, Bornu State, which at the time was under siege by Boko Haram. He equally sought a legislative waiver to pursue speedy weapons to fight Boko Haram (cf. THISDAY Newspaper, March 19th, 2020).
According to THISDAY editorial of March 19th, 2020, “Between 2015 and 2020, the Nigerian government had expended 3billion USD in the prosecution of
war and other security challenges.” Five years after Buhari took over the mantle of leadership, the gradual insecurity turmoil since the emergence of Boko Haram in the northeast of the country in 2009, has metamorphosed into a fully grown chaos, anarchy, and doom.
Today, Boko Haram is undoubtedly the most dangerous terror group in the world based on the number of those the group has killed. But besides Boko Haram terror group, the rates of kidnapping, banditry, cow rustling, armed robbery, human trafficking, etc., have all gone out of hands.
Very sadly, besides Boko Haram laying ambush on our soldiers, common bandits now waylay our soldiers at will. Yet, 3billion USD has been expended in the last five years to wage war against insecurity.
What is obviously wrong is that, there is more beyond what the ordinary Nigerian eyes can see, and ears can hear.
Refusal to change Service Chiefs after five years of a failed war:
Since assumption of office in 2015, president Buhari has refused to change his Service Chiefs despite the clarion calls both locally and internationally to change them, even after the expiration of their tenures. On July 21st, 2020, in a motion moved by senator Ali Ndume, the senate once again called on Service Chiefs to step aside. This time without a recommendation to the presidency. But in a swift reaction, the presidency came out to insist that the power to appoint and terminate rests solely with the president. Is this is not obvious that there is something that the president is not telling us? If there is none why adamant when so many Nigerians, including some armed personnel, have lost their lives to insecurity and unrest in Nigeria? If none why has Buhari remained mute on changing the Service Chiefs, when innocent Nigerians, and our so-called gallant soldiers keep falling to Boko Haram, bandits, and common criminals on a daily basis? An ugly situation that has seen some security personnel compromised and have equally contributed to Nigeria’s insecurity through human rights violations, ranging from brutality, extortion, and gruesome killings of innocent Nigerians.
Our soldiers are now being ambushed at will by common bandits. Maybe soon, kidnappers would join in the ambush against our soldiers. Terrorism, banditry, kidnappers, and other common criminals are now having a daily feast in Nigeria. Nigeria is now being looked at by smaller countries as ‘big for nothing.’
Nigerian army recently denied recruiting 603 repentant Boko Haram into the military, which we don’t have credible information about. Can we also deny that it may not be out of place that Buhari has refused to change his Service Chiefs because those to takeover are not from the north? Considering Buhari’s lopsided appointments since taking over office in the last five years, which has arguably made him a grand nepotist, should we also deny the above allegation?
Why soldiers are protesting and resigning:
It is no longer news that some of our soldiers have at one point or the other been at loggerheads with their superiors, and some have even left the army for alleged lack of care. Yet, 3bn USD has been spent in the last five years to fight insecurity. Why will they not protest or even leave the army when they watch their colleagues die on a daily basis as a result of ambush, lack of sophisticated weapons to confront the enemy, lack of proper funding, etc?
As at the time of writing this article, 233 Nigerian soldiers have left the force for obvious reasons above (cf. Ali Ndume at the floor of the senate, July 21st, 2020).
How Boko Haram and now bandits get information to carry out ambush on our soldiers is still a mystery to uncover. But the truth is that, there are house rats among the soldiers who are giving the enemies’ information. These enemies within may further justify the fact that some wolves in sheep clothing were recruited into the army.
Finally, in the words of Nigerian Nobel Laurent, Prof Wole Soyinka, “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.” Nigerians do we fold our hands and watch our country overshadowed by insecurity?
I will not keep silent! Do not keep silent! Together, let us save our collective nationhood. Else, the man and woman in us will keep dying in the face of tyranny.
Israel GodsPower ANAWEOKHAI, MSP
July 22nd, 2020
Israel GodsPower ANAWEOKHAI is a Catholic Priest of the Missionary Society of St Paul. He is currently on mission in the Archdiocese of Douala, Cameroon.
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