Posted by News Express | 7 June 2016 | 2,653 times
The Nigerian military is in distress and the Federal Government needs to reform it comprehensively, the International Crisis Group (ICG) has observed.
In a landmark report titled Nigeria: The Challenge of Military Reform, published June 6, 2016, the Brussels-based conflict prevention group observed that the Nigerian armed forces, which was “once among Africa’s strongest and a mainstay of regional peacekeeping,” is now “deeply challenged in its primary function of defending the country and its citizens.”
The report traces the decline of the Nigerian military to the long era of military rule which “took a serious toll on professionalism, operational effectiveness and accountability.” It observes that while the return to democratic rule in 1999 raised hopes that the institution could be restored, successive civilian governments’ pledges of much-needed reforms proved largely rhetorical.
Detailing the ailments of the military, the report notes that until recently, the country’s armed services were under-resourced, with comparatively low budgets that were disbursed irregularly and unpredictably. Beyond the inadequate funding, massive corrupt and poor maintenance resulted in serious equipment and logistics deficits, says the report.
Moreover, the report states that for a country of over 170 million people, facing several security challenges – from an Islamist insurgency in the north east to a resource-based conflict in the Niger Delta – the army with about 100,000 officers and men is under-manned. However, it argues that this staffing deficit is also the result of poor planning, a dubious recruitment system and “over-stretch induced by deployments in over two dozen internal security operations.”
The report argues that the military has also been undermined by its own poor human rights record, which “has had a debilitating impact on effectiveness.”
The ICG acknowledges that since assuming office in May 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari has taken some positive steps, notably appointing new and more competent service chiefs, relocating the Boko Haram command centre to the north east and probing past weapons procurement.
While admitting that these actions have had salutary effects, the report argues that their benefits will be short-lived a comprehensive reform program.
The ICG specifically urges President Buhari’s government to initiate public and expert dialogues to analyse and agree on the country’s real security and defence challenges. It also urges the government to thereafter develop a new defence and security policy and structure to address the identified challenges. It further calls for improvements in leadership, oversight, administration and accountability across the entire defence sector.
•Photo shows Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin.
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