By Ochereome Nnanna
YES, ours is a mighty army. The Nigerian Army is a tested and certified war machine with degree and pedigree; an all-conquering military behemoth that has never lost a war, be it internal insurrection or external peace enforcement.
Except for the France-backed irritations often mounted by the Cameroun gendarmes during the tussle over the Bakassi Peninsula, no foreign country has ever attempted to invade the country.
The Nigerian military fought with distinction during the Second World War, WWII, in Europe and Asia, and helped to curtail the Congo independence crises.
They returned home to prevent a breakup of the country. Our armed services are the most powerful forces in Black Africa, the muscle on the right hand of Africa’s peace management endeavours and the guarantor of peace and democracy in the West African sub-region.
After our exploits in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali, where we almost single-handedly ended the civil wars and assisted in the restoration of democracy, the United States, in setting up the African Command, AFRICOM, has relied on Nigeria as its invaluable local ally in the West and Central African sub-region.
It was based on a well-earned reputation and track record of on-field gallantry irrespective of theatres of operation.
This is the first time that Nigeria’s mighty military is suffering from doubts over its capacity to do what it knows how to do best: protect our territorial integrity from internal rebellion and external aggression. For the first time, we are hearing that our mighty army is reluctant to move into Sambisa Games Reserve, an open brush land in the poor Savannah zone, and dislodge an otherwise rag-tag band of terrorists because of miserable landmines!
For the first time, and in the face of withering waves of assaults on isolated villages on a daily basis in the semi-desert North East, we have been reading reports of mutinies and the near-murder of a commanding officer over sloppy handling of matters in the troubled Chibok area in Borno State. For the first time, a state governor became so bold as to tell the world that a local enemy was “better armed and more motivated” than our mighty army.
The terrorists are walking majestically and driving freely through our territorial precincts in Toyota Hilux SUV’s, killing our children, abducting young female students whom they want to “sell into slavery” and forcing Nigerians and even government officials to beg them tearfully to #Bring Back Our Girls Alive!
Why is this happening? It was never the case with Biafra, where the entire nation and her international allies closed ranks with a single-minded purpose of conquering the Igbos and destroying them politically, economically and socially. The army was together in containing the Niger Delta militants and forcing them to give up their armed struggle or face total annihilation.
But when it comes to stamping out an unlikely challenge by Boko Haram, our mighty army begins to dither and give us reason to fear the enemy. We begin to hear of alleged corruption and breakdown of discipline, internal sabotage and doubtful or divided loyalties, as well as power tussle issues playing out among the political leaders.
Much of this is rumour or speculation, though. It is fuelled by those in the struggle for the presidency in 2015 and their media backers.
It is also being stoked by foreign media and other interests who may not have the best interests of Nigeria at heart. Matters are not helped by the fact that the New Media – the fancy moniker for the social media – is bedevilled by lack of control.
Everybody just goes in there to vomit and transmit their ignorance, mischief and personal grudges to the whole world. It is exacerbated by the fact that historically, our armed forces, police and security agencies were built, in the main, with personnel from a section of the country, the North. So, if indeed sabotage and double loyalty in this campaign against Boko Haram is coming from there, it becomes difficult to handle, especially as the North is the theatre of this war.
The lesson here is that we must never build our army, police, security or any other national institution around the narrow interests of any section of the country. Rather, we must build truly national institutions, as that is the only way we can maintain a united front against the nation’s internal and external enemies. Perhaps, the evil our leaders committed in the past against our national unity due to their narrow regional interest is catching up with us.
Our armed forces must be mighty again. They must regain their invincibility, impregnability and indomitability. We must support the armed forces with all our might, sparing nothing to back it financially, morally and with intelligence support.
Let us remember that the men and women who work for us in the armed forces are putting their lives on the line for us. But they will not want to do it for a bunch of ingrates and noisy booers. Why will anybody agree to die for someone who will not even say thank you to the departed? We must support the military! Otherwise, there are grave consequences for us.
If the military refuses to defend us, Boko Haram will win. Fancy that? Nigeria will be the first place terrorists will be winning. It will become their festering ground to launch a worldwide attack. You and I will be dislodged from our comfort zones and we will start looking for a place to hide in other parts of Africa and the world.
Fancy 170 million Nigerian refugees across the face of Africa! However, I know the military will not allow Boko Haram to win.
Rather than allow that, they will truncate our democracy (as their counterparts in Mali did two years ago) with irresistible logic. Then it will be back to square one. We may never see democracy in our lifetime if that happens.
I support the Nigerian armed forces to defeat terrorism. What about you?