Military Incapacity and Presidential Inertia in North Eastern Nigeria – Nnamdi Anekwe-Chive

I grew up in some of the army barracks across the country. I was brought up under the feet of men who are today, generals and other ranks in our nation’s armed forces, and I also have many friends and school mates who are proudly serving in the military. Some of these men have since paid the ultimate price battling the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East and some of them may still die if the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not fashion out a comprehensive strategy to contain the violence.

I dedicate this piece to the memory of the gallant soldiers who perished while fighting to preserve the territorial integrity of Nigeria.

Commenting in the Stratfor recently, Robert D. Kaplan talked about a lengthy cover story he wrote about twenty years ago in The Atlantic Monthly titled, “The Coming Anarchy: How scarcity, Crime, Overpopulation, Tribalism & Disease Are Rapidly Destroying the Social Fabric of Our Planet”, he argued that the combination of resource depletion, demographic youth bulges and the proliferation of shanty towns throughout the developing world would enflame ethnic and sectarian divides, creating conditions for domestic political breakdown and the transformation of war into increasingly irregular forms making it often indistinguishable from terrorism.

As it stands with the North East, many Nigerians would agree that they don’t even know what the Boko Haram sect is fighting for, and Kaplan’s thesis best describes the situation. The Nigerian government appears not to even have an idea on how best to handle the problem, what started as a lightening operation to route the Boko Haram sect under President Yaradua quickly evolved into a Joint Task Force, and now a full military division, the 7TH Military Division of the Nigerian Army, but still, the battle rages on.

It is a lie and nobody should believe the Nigerian Government lacks the capacity and resources to fight the Boko Haram insurgency. It is a simple matter of strategy, tactics and proper execution. Insurgency can be contained and activities reduced to the barest minimum, all it takes is a modern army with proper orientation, motivation and the right armament. One cannot understand why our military is feeling so incapacitated and so defeatist in the face of the raging Boko Haram insurgency. The current Chief of Defence Staff appears not to understand the enormity of the task otherwise he won’t be talking so fast about defeating the insurgency before June, and the last appearance of service chiefs before the National Assembly Committee on Defence to provide some insights into the situation in the North East does not inspire much confidence.

The lack of enthusiasm and tact by the Nigerian Presidency gives one the impression that they are part of some kind of global and domestic conspiracy designed to weaken the Nigerian state and set it up for secession. The people of North Eastern Nigeria appear abandoned to their fate!

 Military analysts have indicated that there must be a troop surge in the North East to be able to police the AOR adequately, with full complement of reconnaissance aircrafts and intelligence deployments.

Who on earth is saying that Nigeria does not have the means to introduce a troop surge, air sorties, intelligence capabilities and technology security at the borders? The Nigerian state is very wealthy and can deploy all resources to counter the beast up north, except what is lacking is the right leadership and political will to take strategic actions.

So many missing links in the ongoing fight against the Boko Haram extremists, and when one factor in the incompetence and inefficiency of the Nigerian Police and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, then one will understand the dire situation facing us as a nation in the uphill task against terrorism. The Minister in charge of Internal affairs is more concerned with sale of recruitment forms of agencies under his purview than coming up with a comprehensive border security framework and partnering with the Defence ministry to assist our troops in the North East. What about the Nigerian Police Force? They remain largely underfunded, under equipped, ill-motivated and appears decimated and consumed by the terrorists. Why is our government not addressing some of these glaring loopholes? Is it that the hundreds of billions or trillions budgeted for national security is being embezzled by a few and some of the plans and policies not executed?

Fighting insurgency and terror is a very complex and difficult battle, made worse by the unseen hands of the western military/industrial complex, who create wars and crisis in weak states in return for sale of arms and ammunition, and other kinds of imperialist agenda. I do not buy the idea that the Nigerian military cannot wipe out the insurgency, rather the government of the day and the current military and national security leadership have failed to provide the troops with the wherewithal to get the job done!

Nnamdi Anekwe-Chive is @NnamdiAnekwe on Twitter

Views expressed are solely the author’s

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