THAT MUTINY IN MAIDUGURI
By Akin Owolabi
A frontline Nigerian newspaper’s report on the professional misconduct of soldiers of 101 Battalion deployed to Maiduguri, Borno State, during which those miscreants in Nigerian Army uniform fired gunshots at their General Officer Commanding (GOC), Major General Ahmed Mohammed, for whatever earthly reasons resonated the high degree of decadence that has permeated the entire strata of human society with Nigeria at its epicentre. It also opens a can of worms of the vampires in high political and civil service stations in the country. It pinpoints why nothing good works in this most populous Black African country.
The soldiers demonstrated that they were a bunch of rascals whose buffoonery was total enough to blind them to the calling of their chosen profession. Otherwise, they would have known that the feeblest protest in war situation impelled by the Boko Haram insurgency was a rebellion with death by firing squad as its sad end.
Reports have it that the soldiers, dispatched to Chibok, a Borno State town popularised by the misguided insurgents’ abduction of 234 school girls, were returning to base, after a failed expedition and favoured breaking the journey when, at the behest of the GOC, were made to complete the ill-fated trip.
The soldiers’ apprehension that they could run into an ambush materialised and the troops recorded some fatalities, which they considered enough ground for multiple assaults at their GOC. They took umbrage and fired gunshots at their formation’s high commander for egging them on to what they categorised as a disaster. This unseemly action by the soldiers may appear trite to the uninformed but too heavy in military corridor. It carries the weight of high treason with death in toe.
The battalion was formed and deployed to the war ravaged zone less than a month to the ugly scene in Maiduguri. The soldiers, contrary to professional ethos, were said to be averse to their deployment to engage the insurgents in Borno. They are patently at odd with the nature of their calling, one of which is to put national integrity ahead of their personal lives. Any soldier has already put his life on the line in his avowed commitment to defend the national territorial integrity and any consideration on the contrary weighs heavily against the reneging soldier.
The point is that any soldier at odd with this avowal to subsumed personal interest has forfeited everything including his personal life, even if conscripted.
This is the dire situation and bobby trap into which the 101 Battalion troops openly walked into and waltzing out may be near impossible. Those ill-baked soldiers may have made a date with the ultimate in their chosen profession.
The situation that brought those military personnel face-to-face with destiny is avoidable if they had had the right orientation from the outset. They had a jaundiced view of the military as any of that lackadaisical vocation – job as usual. They, in their wild imagination and going by the back-door entry, could not decipher the high risk of slipshod and ultra flippancy in the discharge of their national assignment.
If the soldiers were alive to their briefs, they would have been at alert 24 hours of the day in view of the guerrilla tactics of the Boko Haramists. Soldiers in such a situation expect attacks and are never taken by surprise because the insurgents do not occupy any geographic location in the North-eastern axis of Nigeria and operate across the borders. Only neophytes would agree that if the soldiers had been allowed to determine their itinerary, they would never have come into harm’s way. Military strategy belongs, exclusively, to the top dogs. Ambush is guerrilla war tactics and the best strategy is adequate training garnished with spontaneous counter-attack in the same way anti-robbery squad should respond to robbers’ ambush. Blaming the development on GOC’s order to return to base post-haste is balderdash.
That these same set of soldiers were said to have dis-obediently withdrawn from an assigned location two weeks before the mutiny speaks volumes of the high degree of decadence in today’s Nigerian Army. Such serious operational breach was enough to earn them life imprisonment. In fact, the soldiers and their immediate handlers should brace up for the grave consequences of their unruly and gross military misconduct. The Army, anywhere in the world, operates on a strict code that views disobedience as a deadly virus which traces must be flushed with all severity.
Nigerians deserve to be told the enormity of the Boko Haram insurgency and why there is no resolution in sight going by the business-as-usual approach. This serious threat to Nigerian sovereignty has been politicised. It is being made to look as if the crisis could only be resolved if a Muslim attains the presidency in 2015. There has been a state of emergency in three North-eastern states for very close to one year and another six-month extension is in the offing. Yet, all the states’ political structures are intact. This is a hotchpotch of a disturbing proportion – a state of emergency without its sting. It is unknown in history and a bizarre compromise.
It is apt to end this piece with direct quotation from The Guardian daily as a window into the Nigerian officialdom. Quote: “Even the money appropriated for capital projects are not left for the end-users, the military, to determine its implementation. Immediately the budget is signed, Presidency officials, National Assembly members (under the guise of oversight functions) and other top Nigerian officials besiege the military in order to decide who executes the contracts. Sometimes, these officials recommend vendors/middlemen instead of procuring the equipment directly from the manufacturers.
And they (military) also face (bizarre type of) bureaucracy. Most times, the greed of the politicians and the accompanying believe by civil servants that the funds budgeted for are to be shared. All these frustrate the execution of projects.” Unquote. Soldiers, rank and file, do not protest or argue with their political overlord and the political and civil class are stretching the military’s resilience to a breaking point. Extreme caution is needed. Nigeria is indeed a parody of quintessential nationhood. Only a moribund nation can afford to rubbish its military and compromise its territorial integrity on the altar of petty politics. It’s high time Nigeria discarded its abhorrent practices.
*Owolabi, a media practitioner, is a veteran of the Nigerian Civil War
DEMOCRACY DAY: NOTHING TO CELEBRATE, RIGHT GROUP INSISTS
By Ranmilowo Ojalumo
Human rights group, the Committee for the Defense of Human Right (CDHR), has stated that Nigerians have no cause to celebrate democracy, pointing that the Nigeria governments at all levels have denied the masses dividends of democracy in the last 15 years.
The group insisted the people in the government were not representing the interest of the masses, adding that the “government in Nigeria is not government of the people, not by the people and it is not for the people, hence it is not true democracy”.
The Chairman, Lagos Chapter of the committee, Comrade Buna Isiakon, said May 29 was only set aside by the Nigeria government to celebrate poverty, oppression, insecurity, unemployment among other anomalies that have pervaded the nation, stressing that the current state of the nation is worst than what it was in 2013.
He said: “It is not yet democracy in Nigeria. Nigerians have not gotten any appreciable benefit that will warrant celebration. Nigerians are dying in hundreds every day, life and property is not secured. Hospitals are not well equipped, and the few hospitals are set up to extort people; tertiary institution is now an exclusive right of the rich; people in the government are not representing the interest of the masses, the ruling cabals are only protecting their self interest.
“We can only celebrate when we have stable power, when there is free education at all level, when the life and property of the masses is secured, when there is good transportation system, when unemployment is nipped in the mud”.
The group insisted May 29 was not Nigeria’s Democracy Day, stressing that June 12, which the federal government has refused to recognize is the day that marks the struggle for democracy in the country.
Buna said: “June 12 is our Democracy Day. It is the day to be remembered because it marks the day true transition from “Khaki to Agbada” is established. The day represents the day somebody fought for. Somebody dies for the day. June 12 represents the day somebody was collectively elected and supported by every Nigerian. June 12 is the day Nigerians ever elected somebody they want as their leader, unfortunately, that same person was eliminated, that day would have marked democracy day in this country. It was the June 12 struggle that brought about the handing over in May 29, unfortunately, the ruling cabals have forgotten June 12 and the man that symbolizes true democracy.
“Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people, unfortunately, the people in the government are not representing the masses; they are only representing their self interest, hence we insist we don’t have democracy yet and there is nothing to celebrate”.
Meanwhile, the Vice-Chairman of the group, Comrade Felix Omotehinshe, has charged the Westerners to make a genuine effort that will make June 12 to be recognized all over the country.
He specifically tasked the lawmakers in the region to sponsor bill in favour of the day. He said: “Some South-west states do recognize June 12 but it goes beyond the kangaroo celebration. The lawmakers from South-west at the National Assembly should sponsor a bill that will make June 12 to be recognized. May 29 is not our Democracy Day”.
But Buna said the group had been sending warnings to the government that it had not adjusted to deliver dividends of democracy to the people, stressing that the masses would strike sooner than later.