From 1966, and Henceforth, prior to all military revolutions and coups, there are things common to them all; there were series of personnel Unrest, Court martials, frustrated killings and finally mass resignation.
God forbid if that’s where we are headed to again as a nation, no Nation can win a battle at two fronts, not even Nigeria already battling on multiple fronts, secession, terrorism, pandemic, corruption, a military revolution would be the last straw to break the horse back, God forbid it to happen.
Although, the Defense Headquarters has acknowledged openly the rumors of Impending mutiny, warning against the consequences of such revolutionary movement is not the solution, you don’t threaten a soldier about to die with deaths or court martial.
Whose fault is it? , this should not be the question, the question is what can be done to save Nigeria our dear nation from the looming calls for revolution.
In the face of persistent crises, the nation cannot afford any discontent in the military. Since the rebirth of democracy in 1999, the military has been overstretched. The armed forces’ return to the barracks has not been a restful one. They are either being deployed to quell agitators’ unrest in the Niger Delta or they are fighting insurgents in the north east.
It is therefore disheartening that while the military forces are engaged in all these fights to protect their fellow citizens, the nation obviously does not bother about their welfare. The poor response to the needs of our military forces came to the fore recently when 365 soldiers from the Nigerian Army resigned in one fell swoop. These troops are mostly from among those fighting in the north east. They complained about low morale, lack of equipment and poor welfare
This is not the first time that members of the military would complain about poor welfare and the absence of equipment to protect the nation against attacks. Last month, a video of a lance corporal complaining about the condition of our troops in the north east went viral. He condemned the attitude of the chief of army staff towards the attacks and killing of innocent Nigerians and soldiers and other forms of hardship they face. But instead of the authorities concerned to look into the genuiness of the claims of the soldier he was harassed and arrested.
Senior officers have also complained. Maj-Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, Commander of Operation Lafia Dole, Nigeria’s counter-terrorism headquarters, was removed recently for lamenting about inferior military wares and poor welfare of troops. Clearly, by the nature of their profession, soldiers face so much hardship. In fact, they have chosen to pay the supreme sacrifice for the wellbeing of their nation.
However, their choosing to die for their fellow citizens does not amount to committing suicide. For, by sending our soldiers to the battlefeld without equipment amounts to asking them to commit suicide. State-induced suicide inevitably becomes their fate when the soldiers who are unarmed or at best armed with outdated equipment are deployed to face insurgents with sophisticated weapons. Those who have resigned have only expressed their decision not to commit suicide. It is not because they rue their choosing to be soldiers.
The crisis in the military is compounded when the resignation of the soldiers is not rightly appreciated by their leaders. In this regard, the response of the chief of army staff is highly condemnable. Instead of finding out the real problems that are making the soldiers to resign, and remedying them, he approved their resignation as if it were an expected development. And this is against the backdrop of the mounting need to engage more military personnel to help the nation win its wars. Approving the resignation will neither help the military he oversees nor the general society. When such a huge number of soldiers are allowed to resign, others who are disenchanted with the poor condition of their service would follow suit.
Already, there have been mutinies and attempted shooting as soldiers disobey their superiors and protest against their poor welfare and alleged embezzlement of their allowances. In the long run, it is these soldiers who feel that the nation has not been fair to them who would turn against it and its citizens.
Thankfully, President Muhammadu Buhari is a former military man. He should understand the challenges the soldiers are contending with. Therefore, he should not allow only the senior officers to respond to the crisis in the military. He should take decisive steps to check this haemorrhage of our soldiers. He needs to ask hard questions about the huge allocations the military gets every year.
The notion that the nation is at war with insurgents has for years made the budgets for the military to swamp those of other sectors. Buhari like other citizens should not be convinced that these budgets are being well used. After all, he has probed defence budgets and the revelations from the investigations have not shown that the military chiefs have lived above board. Indeed, military chiefs have been indicted for stealing and splurging on themselves huge amounts of money meant for buying weapons and improving the welfare of the armed forces.
Thus, while it is laudable that the nation’s lawmakers want to probe the mass resignation, it goes beyond this. The nation’s problems have not festered because of the absence of probes. It is rather because the outcomes of these probes do not see the light of day. They have to resolve to find enduring solutions to the increasing disenchantment of the members of the armed forces with their profession.
NGSTUDENTS.COM /DIALYPOST PUBLICATION, JULY 31, 2020
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