Disturbing confessions of weakness

Posted by News Express | 28 March 2018 | 2,450 times

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There are things that when said by some persons should not be interpreted from a literal point of view – but should be subjected to intensive philosophical introspection and empirical examination – so as to identify the essential elements and parts that make up the whole.

There is an Igbo adage that says: It is not every dancer that receives a rousing approval from the audience, because some would get public denunciation, while others will thrill the audience to a dizzying point of attracting encomiums and gifts.

The foregoing cosmological viewpoints are necessitated by some comments that recently emanated from high quarters, regarding the sanctity of our security and safety as citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The first was made politically by no less a person than President Muhammadu Buhari, in which he offered a frightening explanation of why he has yet to make known his decision on next year’s presidential poll. The presidency was quoted in the media as saying that with a full year to next year’s poll, it will be dangerous for him to disclose his ambition for second term in 2019; because, doing so will give those he called saboteurs enough time to unleash venoms of destruction and all kinds of attacks to derail the election.

The implication of this is a clear admission of the fear of the potency of some forces which are equipped enough and, indeed, capable of disrupting the smooth implementation of government policies and programmes, all in an effort to derail the election, which is a clear one year away. The second implication is that Nigeria has a commander-in-chief who is so afraid that he may not be capable of defending Nigeria and Nigerians, because of the perceived overwhelming capacity of certain political forces bent on stopping the President from even making the innocuous declaration of intent for next year’s election.

This is the only time and, indeed, the only modern day nation in which the person occupying the Office of the President is afraid of some shadowy political opponents who, by all intents and purposes, do not control the corridors of political power and, therefore, are not in charge of the armed security forces. Most modern day nations such as Russia and China, including the Western nations, political leadership is usually given to persons with strong will. Besides, this indirect admission of weakness and incapability to weather any eventual storms should, understandably, put fear in the minds of citizens who have empowered the President to defend the country.

Speaking about the spill-over state of apprehension sparked in the minds of discerning citizens, from the import of that statement from the Presidency, reminds us of the extensive and far- reaching implication of the second major statement that closely relates to this. This time around, spokesman of the Defence Headquarters submitted and admitted publicly that the military lacks the capacity to defend schools from attacks by terrorists. As captured in the media report, the Nigeria military last Friday said it doesn’t have enough personnel to maintain  a huge security presence in all Nigerian schools, to avert terrorists’ invasion or abduction of pupils.

Defence Spokesperson, Brig-Gen John Agim, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Breakfast Programme, Sunrise Daily, said due to the huge land-mass, especially in the North-east, which is volatile to attacks, it is difficult to deploy troops to schools.

“The military doesn’t have the manpower to deploy (troops) to all the schools. It is not possible. People don’t know the land-mass that we have in the North-east and the number of troops that are deployed in that place. The land-mass is very large.”

Agim, who lauded efforts of the Federal Government, which has authorised Civil Defence and the Police officers to secure schools in North-east Nigeria, emphasised that the military cannot deploy to schools, as some people are demanding.

“It is very difficult. It is not possible,” he said.

The Defence Spokesman also blamed this lack of sufficient manpower on the abduction of over 110 schoolgirls in Government Girls Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, Yobe State. Explaining the role, which the military played in securing North-east, Agim said the military wasn’t negligent as being rumoured, but the troops were redeployed for other assignments few weeks before the terrorists, unfortunately, invaded the school in Dapchi.

“Where the military was deployed in Dapchi, they (the troops) were taken away. They were deployed for other assignments. So, it is possible that the Boko Haram can operate in a place for a long time without the military presence.

“They were withdrawn out of Dapchi for another assignment on January 10 and this attack took place on February 19,” he said.

Dapchi, a remote town in Yobe State, was a safe haven before abduction of the 100 schoolgirls. Recall that although a sizeable number of the students have been returned, Nigerians are reportedly still left in shock over the attack, wondering which school or pupils will be the next target by the terrorists.

The statement from the highest military echelon is scandalous and amounts to admitting that the Nigerian military cannot enforce the mandate bestowed on them by the Constitution, as enshrined from section 217. It goes to show that contrary to the propaganda about the development of drones the country may, after all, be deficient in modern-day military technology, such as drones, to monitor areas that can't be reached by foot. This admission of lack of the needed forces to protect Nigeria efficiently is unconstitutional.

I will reproduce the relevant sections of the constitution that relates to the duties, responsibilities and powers of the armed forces of Nigeria, as captured in the Constitution, so as to show the extensive damage that the admission made by the spokesman of the military has done to the image of the Nigerian military.

Section 217 (i) (ii) (a) (b) (c) and (d) provides thus: “There shall be an Armed Forces for the Federation, which shall consist of an Army, a Navy, an Air Force, and such other branches of the armed forces of the federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly. The federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of: (a) defending Nigeria from external aggression; (b) maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea or air; (c) suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and (d) performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.”

Against the backdrop of these constitutional provisions, the statement of proof that the current institution of the military cannot defend just a part of the country’s territorial jurisdiction is big enough for the National Assembly to carry out a review of what we have as military institution, and to come up with forensic findings regarding the capacity of the military to defend Nigerians. Nigerians need reassurances of their safety as citizens. This assignment for the legislators is sacrosanct, because all arms of government are asked by the Constitution to carry out the primary purpose of protecting the lives and property of Nigerians.

If, therefore, the most strategic institution empowered by law to defend Nigeria has told the world that it cannot carry out the simple task of defending fragments of the whole of Nigeria, we can as well individually decide whether to look for areas of safety around the globe. The examples shown by George Bush, former president of the United States that was bombed by terrorists, tells so much of how courageous a leader should be.

His Spokesman wrote the following about then President Bush: “Bush also believes that America has an obligation to use its power to lead the rest of the world towards a better and more secure future. And he believes a leader should think and act boldly, to strive for the ideal. Therefore, Bush believes it’s important for his advisers to think about specific actions in terms of larger, strategic objectives – how they fit into the bigger picture of what the administration seeks to accomplish.

"Finally, Bush was genuinely concerned about America being hit by terrorists again. The anthrax attacks had only heightened those concerns. Bush meant it, when he said he would never forget the lesson of 9/11. He was determined to act before potential threats fully materialised.”

The ex-media adviser to Bush added: “When these beliefs were combined in the post-9/11 environment, the result was the most consequential decision of Bush’s presidency. The line between the Bush national security team’s pre-existing desire to see Saddam gone and a new emphasis on acting against real and growing threats before they are imminent was quickly disappearing.” (See What Happened? Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception, by Scott McClellan.

The functions of the military, according to Eayrs, can be identified into six general purposes for which nations establish their military as follows:

“Insurance purpose – The military is established to serve as insurance against hostile external environment; Strategic purpose – The military is deployed to deter external aggression, and respond to such aggression whenever it occurs, with the goal of subduing the aggressor; Ceremonial purpose – The military effects some ceremonial roles as highlighted earlier, especially during armed forces day, reception of foreign dignitaries, and celebration of national independence; Diplomatic purpose – The military plays public relations roles, showing the flag when they go abroad; and law and order purpose – The military, when necessary, helps civil power and civil authorities to maintain or restore law and order when the police is overwhelmed; Modernisation and development purpose – The military houses personnel who, apart from their patriotism and discipline, are experts in different fields such as engineering, medicine, education, law, and others.

“Thus, within the context of total defence, the military can bring their qualities, skills and expertise to bear on various aspects of the economy, in pursuit of national development and modernisation. This is through the training of paramilitary forces and civilians, as well as Research and Development (R&D), and constructions,” according to Maj-Gen Chris Olukolade, in his book, Issues in the Mobilisation of Public Support for Military Operations in Nigeria.

Generally, from a bird’s eye view of the essential functions of modern-day military, the scary admission of lack of capacity of the military, as stated by their spokesman, gives every patriotic citizen a cause for worry. Only a comprehensive legislative action monitored by credible civil society leaders can once more reassure Nigerians of their safety in Nigeria.

•Onwubiko heads the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria and blogs@www.emmanuelonwubiko.com;www.emmanuelonwubiko.com;www.huriwa.blogspot.com

Source: News Express

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