By SANUSI MUHAMMAD
The sack of Service Chiefs and the National Security Advisor penultimate Monday by the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces after the timely sack of the allegedly biased and partisan Director General of the Directorate of State Service (DSS), was a sweet music in the ears of majority of Nigerians and a welcome development to the security of Nigeria and a victory to anti-corrupt crusade. Under Jonathan, corruption, nepotism and ethno-religious divide within the armed forces was celebrated and encouraged to flourish by those sacked who failed woefully to defeat Boko Haram despite several promises and huge budgetary allocations. Not only to defeat the insurgents, but to at least score a point to rescue abducted innocent Chibok School children was a task they could not accomplish.
“We know where the girls are located and we shall soon rescue them unhurt. We are only being careful not to cause them any injury” Alex Badeh once told the nation. Shamefully, within few days of his unbelievable statement, Boko Haram ransacked his native Mubi town in Adamawa state to prove his incapacitation to rescue the girls. Badeh like his colleagues, continued to tell lies to deceive Nigerians including the Commander-In-Chief to justify the huge budgetary allocation. The then Commander-In-Chief as a clueless leader, continued to entertain the failed service chiefs as his only way out of the quagmire.
It is heart- warming and confidence building exercise that President Buhari did the needful at last to rid the armed forces of dead woods that fed fat on defence budgetary allocation. In fact Nigerians, who clamoured for their sack including yours sincerely, have genuine reason(s) of doing so. Like most of the country’s national institutions, the military was fast becoming a shadow of its former self. One of the most pronounced problems was its blatant connivance with politicians to use the institution’s monopoly of coercive force to unlawfully and unprofessionally muzzle life out of opposition in elections for a fee. Disgracefully, soldiers were used as Zombies to protect PDP election riggers, harass and intimidate political opponents to empower favoured candidates as evidenced in Ekiti, Rivers and Osun States. Not surprising, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah the sacked Chief of Army Staff vehemently refused to investigate the outrageous pervasion of military values in spite of its disturbing implications for the polity and unity of the country. The military was so bastardised to the extent that soldiers are deployed as guards to private homes of politicians.
The sack of the Service Chiefs is not enough; they must be made to account for their deeds. The military in the last four years had cause to enjoy robust budgetary allocations but without service to commensurate. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, defence received N921 billion, N1.055 trillion and N968.127billion respectively yet Boko Haram could not be defeated. Instead, the insurgents waxed stronger and stronger assisted by a corruption infested armed forces. The military was forced to retreat from Boko Haram enclave for lack of arms, ammunition and other supporting equipment.
The armed forces was politicized and divided along ethno-religious sentiments detriment to patriotism and line of duty. The present day Nigeria Police can best be described as a corruption breeding organisation than a security outfit. It is an institution that has lost its core values and respect to sharp corrupt practices and greed. As Nigerian, I am mystified about the hard times Nigeria’s military is experiencing in their battle with Boko Haram insurgents. Two things are particularly disturbing and alarming that should be critically investigated if Nigeria is to defeat the insurgents.
The first is the superior firepower the insurgents possess and the capacity they developed over the years that, discourages the military to confront them in their strongest hold and base, Sambisa forest.
The second aspect is the intelligence and tactical sagacity the insurgents appear to possess despite the terrain; despite surrounded by intelligence network as well as neighbouring ‘friendly’ countries, and despite the telecommunications and technological freeze Nigeria severally imposed on the prone areas at the onset of Jonathan’s brand of state of emergency.
The insurgent’s growing confidence and sustenance of violent attacks is enough evidence that all is not well with Nigeria’s armed forces and the Police. Instead of the Police to repent from brutality and misuse of force, it has gone worse. The situation should be of tremendous concern to patriotic Nigerians. Ideally, the Police is in dire need of total overhaul and reorganisation if it is to succeed. Heads must roll to restore confidence. Regrettably, the insurgent’s phenomenon started right in front of Nigeria’s security agencies with allegations that the injustice characteristic of the Nigeria Police caused the problem.
What is more puzzling is that the insurgents continue to grow stronger despite the presence of security and intelligence communities. Nigerian soldiers are forced to confront the insurgents with obsolete weapons while the insurgents swagger into the military establishment incredible confidence and sophisticated state-of-the-art equipment, remains unbelievable. The facts suggest differently; that Nigeria has the airspace capacity; Boko Haram has none. Nigeria has the air and sea ports and the highways used by Boko Haram at will to unleash terror. Nigeria has intelligence agencies with many trained experts in intelligence gathering and warfare. Nigeria has big and powerful friends across the globe, Boko Haram can probably only boast of sneaky supporters to converse in whispers and walk around in the jungles with flashlights. Nigeria is the one who authoritatively slapped down a state of emergency in prone areas to render Boko Haram impotent and naked.
How then did the misfortune continue to defy solutions? Why is Boko Haram instead of weakened is waxing stronger and stronger killing soldiers like white ants and sacking villages and kidnapping school children at will?
Why did Boko Haram benefit tremendously from the Jonathan brand of state of emergency, marauding and masquerading, burning shrines, markets, motor parks and palaces? Why are Nigerian soldiers slaughtered like Christmas chickens by Boko Haram? Why are Nigerian soldiers running away from battle ground when Nigeria owns the land? Why were committees appointed but no positive results? Why does Nigeria’s security agencies, claim to have reliable intelligent reports on Boko Haram modus operandi and the insurgency still persists? Why, was a war in the first place declared on the insurgents without adequate preparation? Who committed Nigeria to an unprepared war with a faceless group? Why are those with courage to assist security agencies with genuine information on the modus operandi of the insurgents discouraged by security agencies? In the interest of the future, not the past, Nigeria must question how it arrived at the tight corner. There must be a thorough probe into the management of the Defence Ministry and leadership of the Armed Forces since the war on Boko Haram began. Other security agencies must equally be probed to strengthen the records.
The first line of enquiry must be on the quality and capacity of military hardware claimed to have been procured. Next should be on how the armed forces, office of the NSA and other security agencies been expending their budgetary allocations. Were the requested equipment actually procured from sources of manufacture and at what cost?
A cursory look at federal budgets shows the Defence Ministry alone received a lot of money and in view of the curious questions raised, it is critical to ensure the allocated funds were dedicated to the ends for which they were budgeted. From the Budget Office records, Defence received a total of N223, 021, 861, 244. The record shows that Nigeria expended over N2.6trillion from 2003 – 2014 on Defence yet Boko Haram waxes stronger. Let me quickly add that the figure is not exhaustible as in some years within, there were supplementary appropriations that were not included. The 2010 Appropriation Amendment Act for instance, provided additional recurrent expenditures of over N216 billion as well as capital expenditures of over N47 billion.
The account does not include a variety of security-related agencies of the government, (DSS, NIA, DIA, DMI etc). Of another interest is the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA). Many Nigerians are yet to know the importance of the NSA’s office and what it does to the benefit of Nigerians although it carries a lot of ‘weight’ and expends a lot of money on only God knows. The office sadly transformed to more of a PDP annex than a security outfit under Sambo Dasuki. He failed woefully to deliver as a security adviser that attracted him a sack. That office is long overdue for thorough reorganisation and probe.
A look at the NSA’s budgetary allocation shows that in 2006, it received N15.5billion but in subsequent years the budget skyrocketed for undisclosed reason without positive result. In 2010 a whooping total of N185, 570, 007.818 was approved for that office while in 2011 it was N109.8billion, in 2012 it was N123.4 billion, in 2013 it was N115.5billion and in 2014 it was N117.7billion. Nigerians wonder how those allocated funds were expended; the conundrum is that despite all of the spending – or all the resources – Nigeria remains less secured.
Nigerians must in unison demand for better utilisation of their resources beginning with the exploration of security budgets. It is important to take this issue with all seriousness given the level of unemployment and cynicism in Nigeria, Boko Haram may not be the lowest that Nigeria sinks. Nigeria’s best investment should be good governance and the delivery of social justice. That is what will guarantee a level playing field and multiply respectable opportunities for the government and the governed, and send crooks and clowns to jail for depriving the people a steady source of comfort from the commonwealth.
Otherwise, Nigeria shall reach a catastrophic end as a republic where the filthy rich build and live in palatial palaces but afraid to mix freely with the poverty-ridden larger society while the fire ravages the land from all sides and there will be nowhere for the crooks to lavish stolen funds and no hiding place.
The newly appointed service chiefs, the NSA and DSS Director-General must address the deep-rooted problems that persistently weakened morale, crippled effectiveness and consequently engendered fear in the face of the enemy. They must implore the means to defeat Boko Haram as quickly as possible but that can only be achieved if the armed forces, shreds its political toga for its core professional role. Aggressive intelligence gathering is required as most of those reports at the disposal of most security agencies are stale while majority were only concocted for corrupt purposes. Reports of various committees appointed by Jonathan were mere fabrications and opinions from disconnected Boko Haram insurgents now languishing in detention camps. There must be a brand new approach to the war against insurgency. While the war goes on, efforts must be made to broker truce. That is the only way out of the quagmire. After all, who loses? Boko Haram stands to lose nothing since it has nothing. Nigeria should remember that it is fighting a trained terrorist group in possession of sophisticated weapons, adequate finance and faceless.
Nigeria has committed over N4trillion and materials on the war against Boko Haram in the last five years without positive results. Soldiers at the war fronts consistently complain of inadequate equipment, internal sabotage and abandonment by the authorities. Troops complain of lack of basic necessities while their allowances are cornered by their superiors. Mercenaries from South Africa were alleged to have been engaged to fight the war but for who? Are South African soldiers better than Nigerian soldiers in conventional war? Was that not another channel of siphoning allocated fund?
Sambo Dasuki was recruited on a wrong capacity rating to replace General Andrew Owoye Azazi who battled the odds despite baseless allegations from few ignorant northerners and their collaborators. Dasuki’s appointment was for political reason not on merit or experience. The war against Boko Haram was badly conducted and politicised under Dasuki to perfect a stay.
The Jonathan administration confused on what to do to please Nigerians, politicised the unfortunate situation. At a PDP National Working Committee meeting, Jonathan had the guts to say, “Insurgent attacks occur only in opposition controlled states” forgetting that Gombe, Taraba, Plateau and Bauchi were PDP controlled states. Jonathan’s then minister overseeing the defence ministry, Labaran Maku repeated the statement severally to score a cheap point for Jonathan. To prove his point, in 2014, a security meeting was called with the state governors, but Jonathan met first with PDP governors before summoning courage to meet with those in opposition.
As a prove of his political affiliation to PDP and loyalty to Jonathan not to Nigeria, Dasuki on January 22, 2015 stunned the world at Chatham House, London by making a treasonable suggestion that election dates in Nigeria should be pushed forward to enable security agencies fight Boko Haram. Commonsense shows that it was an attempt to help the drowning Jonathan and PDP to gather momentum and face the threats of APC at the elections.
He erroneously thought APC would violently react against the suggestion for him to have enough reason to arrest Buhari, Lai Muhammed, Tinubu, Amaechi, Atiku, Oyegun etc, then remove Jega from INEC and follow it with a propaganda on how the government uncovered plots to subvert the democracy. Dasuki was wrong. APC made noise and accepted the dates.
Bello Fadile a staff in Dasuki’s office who implicated Obasanjo in the Abacha phantom coup and a close confident of Dasuki as NSA, was PDP’s agent at the collation centre of the 2015 presidential election possibly on the directive of Dasuki. As the NSA of a government that incorporated impunity in its conduct, Sambo deserves thorough investigation. He threw away professionalism for partisan politics in his quest to be the Sultan of Sokoto through the back door.
Dasuki and his cohorts lost respect for implementing a faulty war against Boko Haram at unbelievable expenditure. To every right thinking Nigerian, he was a failure and must be made to account for the trillions he collected for arms and ammunitions. He must account for the scandalous export of dollars in cash to South Africa which ridiculed Nigeria’s reputation. Nigerians know who were threatening the peace of their country for Jonathan to remain in power: Ita Ekpenyong, Marylyn Ogar, Edwin Clarke, Asari Dokubo, Mbu Joseph Mbu, Bello Fadile, Godswill Orubebe etc.
Through divine intervention and with fervent prayers for change, Buhari got the mandate of the people to deal decisively with those high profile crooks, clowns and rogues that took pleasure in messing Nigeria. The time has come to disgorge their loot, send the hardened ones to the gallows while some to jail for life for Nigeria to be a better country. All ministries, parastatals and agencies MUST be thoroughly probed. Nigerians need a brand new Nigeria.
By SANUSI MUHAMMAD