“The fish has caught the fisherman…”- A. W. Tozer ( 1897-1963)
I am of the firm opinion that any restructuring of this nation for it to be meaningful must, first of all, involve a thorough restructuring of the institution known as the Nigerian Army. Anything other than that is meaningless.
In the last few days, certain information came into the public domain which ought to elicit certain questions. I have grouped this under four subheadings. Then the question: What does the Army secure?
Armies are set up to secure certain things for a nation. So in the light of the information coming out which I will soon go into, what does our own army secure?
Around two years ago I wrote an essay ominously titled: NIGERIAN ARMY OR NIGERIAN PEOPLE’S ARMY?
In that essay, I anticipate some of the things that are now coming to the public domain. I will also include that essay in this piece, though long. But before then let us examine the issues on the ground.
* Army and Oil Theft: Asari Dokubo Revelation
A few days ago Asari Dokubo made a serious allegation against the officers of the Nigerian Army accusing them of involvement in oil theft and smuggling. He didn’t say this in secret, he said it right at the seat of presidential power in Abuja for the world to hear it. And what was the response from the other side? From the accused? It was a tepid, timid response the kind you expect from a culprit whose secrets have been exposed.
It is a shame. This is not the first time that someone who should know would make the same allegation. Erasmus Ikhide confirmed that a former governor of one of the Niger Delta regions told him that at a meeting at Abuja, he confronted the service chiefs of the last Buhari administration that they were all involved in oil theft and bunkering to which they could not offer a firm response.
That is the second witness.
Now here is the third.
The Buhari administration contracted pipeline surveillance to one of the Niger Delta militant warlords, Government Ekpemepulo, also known as Tompolo. And within a few weeks, he discovered an illegal pipeline that has been used for nine years to steal crude oil. In a nation where there is an Army, a Navy, Air Force and they didn’t sight this until a private non-state actor came on board. So you know why your generals are all billionaires? Do you know now why Nigeria has the largest number of retired generals in the world – above Russia, Israel, and even the United States? What an army!
* Security on Abuja - Kaduna Road
If the above was shocking this one even shocked me to the marrow. Asari Dokubo also claimed ( not alleged) that it is he and his men that are securing Abuja – Kaduna Road, not the Nigerian Army. Is this serious? Okay hear from the horse’s mouth:
“I am a participant in this war. I fight on the side of the government of the Nigerian state in Plateau, Niger, Anambra, Imo, Abia, and Rivers. And in Abuja today, you are traveling to Kaduna on this road. It is not the army that makes it possible for you to travel to Abuja or travel to Kaduna, and vice versa. It is my men, employed by the government of the Nigerian State, stationed in Niger".
“Today, you travel to Baga, you go to Shiroro, you go to Wase. We have lost so many men and in all these engagements, we don’t even have one percent of the armament deployed by the Nigerian military. One percent and we have had resounding success.”
Is this a dream or I am not reading well? That a non-state actor is the one securing the well-being and safety of Nigerians on a major highway of the capital city? Another non-state actor is securing our pipelines from theft by soldiers and their agents.
So what does the Nigerian Army secure? Who does the Army secure?
Why, then, every year do we spend so much on defense instead of education and the welfare of the citizenry feeding a corrupt bureaucracy that cannot guarantee the safety of lives?
* Genocide in Plateau and Benue States
The last thing I want to comment on is genocide quietly going on in the two states of Benue and Plateau State. Between the middle of May and June this year over 300 Christians including 2 pastors have been killed by Fulani herdsmen terrorists and militia. About 30,000 residents were displaced, and 28 church buildings and 2000 houses were destroyed in Mangu Local Government. Between May 15-17 more than 200 Christians in the Mangu vIllages of Kubwa- Bwai and Fungzai- Bwai have been killed according to local eyewitness reports. Fulani now feeds their flocks on the farmlands of the people.
According to the local union so far 100 village communities have been deserted in Plateau State and Fulanis now live there. The Amnesty International report of over 130 already dead since the new government came to lower is very correct. One of the purposes of an army, the real purpose of an army is to secure the territorial integrity of a nation. Today what is happening in Plateau shows that there is a breach. What does the Army secure? If Nigerians are being driven from their homes and towns by terrorists?
On the Benue State front, it is the same story. According to the statement of the Shitile Development Association between June 3 &4 herdsmen invaded the villages of Imande- Mbakange killing 28 Christians and another 18 Christians in Michihe the following day. 46 citizens were gunned down in their own land and had to desert the villages for the herdsmen. There was no army or soldiers to face the herdsmen for the two days of the massacre possibly because the Niger Delta oil is more important than securing villages. That is exactly what Dokubo said. And in the light of the above can we now fault him?
So I ask: what does the Army secure? If everyone has to secure the services of militants why any need for an army? Why do we spend so much on Defense if we cannot be secured by an Army?
It is time Benue and Plateau State and all besieged people and communities set up their own militia. I have said this for a long, that is the only way out now. It is allowed. God is not glorified by foolish deaths. Let those in Benue and Plateau State set up their own militia and stop depending on an army whose interests are on something else.
The Nigerian Army needs serious interrogation. The whole defense system of this nation needs to be interrogated beginning with the Army.
You will get the full impact of what was said then and what is still happening now.
Moses Oludele Idowu writes from Nigeria.
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