Security Expert, Captain Umar Aliyu (Rtd), believes that the Military may be right to say that Nigeria’s territorial integrity was still intact but believes that there were indicators that it is threatened.
This is in reaction to the Nigerian Army’s response to a 52-minute video purportedly released by the Boko Haram sect, declaring an Islamic caliphate in Gwoza, Borno State.
Speaking on the Monday edition of Channels Television’s breakfast programme, ‘Sunrise Daily’, Aliyu noted that there were both technical and fundamental indicators on ground that shows that the Nigerian Military had challenges handling the security situation.
He said that the goings on in the Army in recent times have shown that the sect must have been emboldened to take the step they took, making reference to issues like soldiers’ alleged mutiny, protests by soldiers’ wives, as well as complaints of lack of motivation and equipment to match the terrorists.
“From my side of the table as an observer I think time will confer or un-confer the truth of that statement or that position. But if we want to play it safe, I will want to assume that given the indicators that the adversaries have gleaned off, the goings in the Army in the last six to nine weeks, its not unlikely that they’ve been emboldened to take that step and make that declaration whether for truth or for fallacy.”
He added that Nigeria has not been focused about the State of Emergency it declared in the states affected by insurgency, as “somebody should be in charge” but this hasn’t been so.
He stated particularly that the issues within the Army had become one that needed to be addressed at a time when the soldiers were still complaining to their authorities. He warned that a situation where they stop complaining would make the situation worse.
Sophisticated weapons were on display in the video released by the sect and there have been questions about the possibility of military equipment being among those used by the Boko Haram sect. Aliyu said that the sect could have looted the military facilities they have attacked in the past.
He, however, also revealed there are black markets for arms all over the West African region and the sect could have acquired them or looted different locations to get the sophisticated weapons on display in their latest video.
“We have an Army that is more physical than mental” Aliyu said, adding that the insurgency in the country was an opportunity for Nigeria to improve on its military tactics but unfortunately the Army was still doing things the old way.
“We are just doing, we are not thinking”, he said.
He wondered why questions were not being asked about the reason why the sect was bent on taking over Gwoza. He recalled that the sect had successfully eliminated the Emir of Gwoza and activities that followed showed that there had been a plan.
“From the account of the average man who lives there (Gwoza) the presence of the insurgents is louder than that of the military troops” Aliyu said this based on his personal research on the web, checking the social media spaces of persons who are residents of Gwoza.
The military capacity to carry out thorough investigation also came to the fore, and Capt. Aliyu maintained that the reason why the Nigerian Army seemed incapable of this was that the personnel lacked the enabling environment to replicate some of the laudable performances they record when on international duties and trainings.
“We tend to look at the physical soldier, what about the psychological soldier?” Aliyu asked.
“The zombies Fela sang about is long extinct, today’s soldiers are people of these times, not Fela’s times when he sang Zombie.
“The Army is a community with its own values and culture and its also a subset of the larger Nigerian community.
“When you go recruiting to bring in soldiers, you are going to bring the majority of your recruits from the Nigerian youths who share the same social, mental fads. You’ll be getting the ‘Dorobuchi’ generation and the ‘Skelewu’ guys to come and become soldiers.
“Now, you cannot just get a soldier to follow you to battle just because you said so, he has to believe in you.”
He stressed that the Army needs to “step out of the stereotype” and do things differently.
He also said that there was need to develop a culture whereby monies spent on the military are accounted for. While admitting that this does not mean that details of all military procurements should be made public, he insisted that they should be bench marked and taken responsibility for, as regards what has been achieved with them.
While maintaining his earlier stance, aligning with the military statement that the Boko Haram claims could be untrue, he said that he expects to see a robust military action which would indicate that things were not being taken for granted.
Capt. Aliyu believes that the alleged take-over of Gwoza, which is a border town, means that Cameroon would also have started giving focus to their side of the region too.
He, however, also stated that this was not a totally military issue, but an opportunity for the Customs, Civil Defence Corps and other agencies to upgrade their operations to be able to address the situation.
He referred to the setting up of the Civilian JTF as one that would make him cry, as it only indicates the inability of the Nigerian military to handle the security challenges in the country.