Let’s support our mighty army

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.

Nigeria Army

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?


Western intervention will turn Nigeria into an African Afghanistan

reposted by  • May 8, 2014


The plight of kidnapped girls is set against the corruption and inequality that the west’s economic war has helped to create

[Reposted from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/06/western-intervention-nigeria-kidnapped-girls-corruption-boko-haram] [Bolding by SC]It seems almost beyond belief that more than 200 girls can be kidnapped from a school in northern Nigeria, held by the terrorist group Boko Haram, and threatened on a video – shown worldwide – with being sold into slavery by their captors. The disbelief is compounded by today’s news that, overnight, eight more girls have been kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram gunmen in north-east Nigeria. This tragedy touches the hearts of everyone, evoking a feeling of revulsion not only at the danger and loss of freedom itself, but at the assumption that for young girls their destination must be forced marriage and servitude, not education.

There is rightly anger that so little has been done by the Nigerian government to find the girls, and that those who have demonstrated in huge numbers against President Goodluck Jonathan have themselves been accused of causing trouble or even temporarily arrested.

But we should be wary of the narrative now emerging. This follows a wearily familiar pattern, one we have already seen in south Asia and the Middle East, but that is increasingly being applied to Africa as well.

It is the refrain that something must be done and that “we” – the enlightened west – must be the people to do it. As the US senator Amy Klobuchar put it: “This is one of those times when our action or inaction will be felt not just by those schoolgirls being held captive and their families waiting in agony, but by victims and perpetrators of trafficking around the world. Now is the time to act.”

The call has been for western intervention to help find the girls, and to help “stabilise” Nigeria in the aftermath of their kidnap. The British government has offered “practical help”.

Yet western intervention has time and again failed to deal with particular problems and – worse – has led to more deaths, displacements and atrocities than were originally faced. All too often it has been justified with reference to women’s rights, claiming that enlightened military forces can create an atmosphere where women are free from violence and abuse. The evidence is that the opposite is the case.

Women’s rights were a major justification for the Afghanistan war, launched in 2001, when Cherie Blair and Laura Bush supported their husbands’ war as a means of liberating Afghan women. Today, with millions displaced and tens of thousands dead, Afghanistan remains one of the worst countries on earth for women to live, with forced marriage, child marriage, rape and other atrocities still occurring widely.

And western intervention is already firmly embedded in Africa. It does not have the same profile as in Afghanistan or Iraq, because past wars have made it harder to put boots on the ground. But Barack Obama has his military forces engaged in West Africa through their Predator drone base in Niger, which borders northern Nigeria. It also borders Mali, the scene of recent French and British interventions, and Libya, object of a disastrous western bombing campaign in 2011 that has left that country in a state of civil war and collapse.

US drones also operate in Djibouti, Ethiopia and just across the Red Sea in Yemen. The west has been engaged in proxy wars in Somalia in recent years.

If Islamism is now a threat to western interests in growing parts of Africa, it is one that they have played a large part in creating.

But there is another war going on in Africa: economic war. A continent so rich in natural resources sees many of its citizens live in terrible conditions. In President Jonathan’s Nigeria, economic growth has not trickled down to the poor. Healthcare and education are beyond the reach of many.

There is widespread corruption, yet weapons and armies are paid to protect the wealthy and the foreign companies, such as Shell, that want to access the country’s resources, especially oil. This corruption and inequality is not separate from the role of the west, but an integral part of a system that is prepared to go to war over resources such as oil and gas, but will not go to war on poverty or to provide education for all.

It is this background that informs the terrible plight of the kidnapped girls in Nigeria. It will not be improved by more western weapons and armies on the ground or in the air.