By Oladimeji Odeyemi
General T Y Danjuma, a once Chief of the Nigerian Army and one time Nigeria’s Minister of Defense had on Saturday, March 24, 2018 during the convocation ceremony of the Taraba State University accused the Nigerian Military of being far from neutral in the recent killings happening in certain parts of the North. The retired General also opined that the Armed Forces, were in the habit of covering those behind the attacks.
He also insinuated that that the citizenry will be deceived as to believe the Armed Forces are there to serve them, his final submission was as queer as all that he had to say — The people he advised, should consider defending themselves, otherwise, they will die, “one by one”!
These are damming things to say, not only by an elder statesman, but also judging from his position as a former Chief of Army Staff.
Undoubtedly our Dear country, Nigeria, is going through a score of security challenges in which many human lives have been lost to both armed bandits and communal clashes…. Such heightened clashes and banditry, have claimed scores of lives this year alone.
As such the situation for concern does exist. And perhaps the matter of incessant and seemingly segregated attacks on the Northern minorities must be seen as beyond happenstances, to warrant such a strong reaction from such an important figure as retired General Danjuma is.
These indictments are generally about PRESIDENT BUHARI’s APPROACH TO OUR SECURITY CHALLENGES…GOOD or BAD, General Danjuma is free to believe what he has by his own Free Will chosen to believe in, based on his convictions, let me also be permitted to take a stance based on my conviction too.
Between the year 2012 and 2015, the Boko Haram insurgency and terror engulfed no less than nine states of the North ,and the then President Goodluck Jonathan was even accused of being the creator of Terror among other things…
Our security forces were so overwhelmed that even Abuja the seat of power was attacked a few times by the terrorists…
All of these were damning for the then President and the Nation’s Armed Forces too were accused of even aiding the Terrorists, simply because the people were greatly traumatized.
It was a new kind of war that fighting Tebrror is, not a conventional war against a standard army. Terrorists are civilians who mingle unsuspectingly with the people and remain largely undetected.
And on this basis, was President Buhari, elected.
Also based on this conviction has Nigerians in the three years down the line of Buhari’s rule, been collectively satisfied that this administration has greatly reduced the Boko Haram Terror to bare Nothingness…!
Churches and Mosques that used to be bombed every Sunday and Friday from Maiduguri to Jos have become a distant history…. Months have gone on without a single terror incident occurring. Even the advanced countries are not free of Terror.
No doubt President Buhari has done exceedingly well on the war against Terror.
The Nigerian Army, since the advent of General Tukur Yusufu Buratai has also by same extension done exceedingly well to upturn the battered image of the Nigerian Army that suffered greatly due to the general loss of confidence in it during the time of President Jonathan, and this fact cannot be too overstretched either.
I won’t let any one make me believe for once that Nigeria is not by far, better off now, with all the efforts put in by both the President and the Army to combat not only the Boko Haram terror but also the greater challenges of banditry, communal clashes, foreign incursions and other criminalities that have sprung up in the two to three years since this government came on board.
That people like General T Y Danjuma believe this administration has not done enough or the army is not neutral, is based on the resurgence of some isolated attacks by Boko Haram or the various bandits, foreign elements, militias disguising as herdsmen as we are all made to believe.
And with all the monies stolen, running into billions of dollars, meant for procurement of military equipment by the last administration, Nigerians should rather be thankful to this very committed Armed Forces that have continued to fight all our numerous security challenges with inadequate funds and Equipments..
General Danjuma and others should be insisting on proper funding of the Army and the Armed Forces to be able to effectively tackle all our very pressing and serious security issues.
To those who believe that the President is in support of a particular group killing another, or the Military is partisan, let it be known that it will simply not be possible in a Country like Nigeria, let alone an agenda of a President to be adopted by an independent and professional institution like the Nigerian Armed Forces.
The Nigerian Army will not sanction the killing of innocent Nigerians under any guise, it is Simply not Possible.
And if the truth must be said, the Army has lost many of its gallant soldiers to these bandits and the army has killed and arrested many more of the so called Fulani Herdsmen — Wherefore has the very idea of the army aiding and abetting the criminals come to be in the mind of General Danjuma…!?
If anything, this President and the Nigerian Armed Forces, have shown the political will to fight insecurity in this country than what the last administration ever did….. Nigerians must never forget where we are coming from. Nigerians must never forget we are fighting a different kind of War.
Our soldiers are now well motivated than ever, they are getting required support as at when needed, army headquarters relocated to Maiduguri where it is most needed, gone are the days when all our army generals will sit tight in Abuja in the comfort of their luxurious apartments and receive situation reports on the phone or by signals only.
The Inspector General of Police was directed to relocate to Benue state because the President wanted an immediate end to the carnage being perpetuated there. Recently, the American President signed off on a deal to sell twelve super Tucano fighter jets to Nigeria, eight Mi-35M attack helicopters from Russia, five Super Mushshak aircraft from Pakistan, Yabhon Flash 20 Remote Piloted aircraft from the UAE all because this government is serious about fighting insecurity.
Not forgetting that President Muhammadu Buhari released an helicopter from the Presidential fleet to our troops for added support on this fight against all forms of insecurity, because he believes securing Nigeria and Nigerians should come before his own comfort.
What we are used to seeing in the recent past is the National Security Adviser, dispensing dollars to politicians, instead of fortifying our arsenal.
While we all sympathize with the people of Benue, Taraba and victims of Terror and Banditry in other states, we should not be so carried away as to stir up inter-tribal wars of attrition that are capable of aggravating the situation.
Our soldiers should be rather well motivated with encouraging words; the war they are fighting is not a conventional war that they are used to…. They should also be praised for restraint in the face of tensed situations that have not led to indiscriminate military actions like we had in Odi some years back.
Western leaders who used to tag us as a fantastically corrupt country will tell us now now that Buhari’s administration is one with sincerity of purpose.
Our expectations might be high, which is natural, but one never knows how hard it is to fight in an unconventional war, from the comforts of their palaces.. until one has experienced it, a conventional war defies strict military training solutions!
General Danjuma never foght in an unconventional war, so he may not know how hard and mentally tasking it is— just like a football game, spectators are the ones who knows how best to play.
His Wakeup call might be good, but his accusation of non-neutrality is Not.
His lamentation on the state of insecurity might also be needful, but not his assertiveness to people to pick up arms, that is a call to anarchy.
Condemning is natural for us humans. PATIENCE IS KEY so that we don’t escalate our insecurity issues to a full scale tribal war
In this regard it is better to state empirically the facts as it is so that Nigerians can best be served and the fears of General Danjuma, addressed.
The military has in place, “Exercise Cat Race”, an operation that engages troops to curb the menace of the herdsmen-farmers conflict and other criminal activities in the North Central Region amongst others.
And while living up to its task of safeguarding the nation, some of the officers and personnel of our armed forces, have paid the supreme price in the battle against criminality.
For instance, a gallant non-commission officer of the Nigerian Army was beheaded on 16 March 2018 in Takum Taraba State by these same criminal that General Danjuma has claimed the Armed forces are aiding and abetting.
And there are other officers too that daily are in danger
It is therefore highly uncalled for, an invitation to anarchy that ordinary people should take up arms to defend themselves… By this, indiscriminate use of arms is certainly not a call to make, as it will lead to the breakdown of law and order in the country.
It should be disregarded by all well-meaning Nigerians.
The Nigerian Armed Forces has over the years earned international accolades for the sheer professionalism and patriotism in all its engagements, and this situation too will pass. Tensions are high, but higher is the stakes that can lead to anarchy.
A well organised and highly professional Armed Forces, motivated and appreciated will do us all, far more good than to accuse our Armed Forces, which comprises of all the tribes of complicity in discharging its constitutional mandate.
This situation in a democracy allows for expression and freedom of speech. But it should not be taken to the level of loose and gaseous expressions that are without proofs.
If our respected General has any evidence of wrongdoing or of dereliction of duty against our Armed Forces he should please bring them forward rather than to be making blanket and generalized statements that can throw the entire polity into a flaming discord.
It is also important to state that the frustration in the situation might be evident and embedded in the painful outburst of General Danjuma.
We need to all do more as Nigerians.
Once upon a time, General Babangida cried out that “Nigerian economy had defied all known solutions”.
At another time, the same General Danjuma had to throw in the towel as minister of Defence in President Obasanjo’s administration, when the usual Nigeria problems of selfishness, self interest, over national interests, were the order of the day.
Just recently President Jonathan said, Boko Haram had penetrated into his government, into his cabinet and traced their presence also, to the Legislative and Judicial arms of government… These are issues that this present administration have also inherited.
To date, known and unknown financiers of BH remain unmasked and elusive. The army under the leadership of General Tukur Yusufu Buratai has managed to catch some notable backers and financiers of Boko Haram and I am sure in the no distant future, the backers of the herdsmen criminalities in the North Central zone will also be fished out by our Hardworking military leaders.
In truth, our gallant soldiers deserve every support and encouragement we could muster, we need from them, accountability and transparency in respect to human and material resources vis a vis the economy of the cost and opportunity cost implications of the unresolved crisis.
But us Nigerians too, should do more to help alleviate the problems of poverty, destitution and insecurity in the affected areas.
The major cause of insurgency is frustration and poverty. Our politicians too should do so much more.
The wake up call is for all of us to be alert to our responsibilities. We are the government, not just President Muhammadu Buhari and his cabinet. They are only the beneficiaries of our freely given mandates that must be supported.
God bless our Dear Country. Amen.
Comrade Oladimeji Odeyemi, the President of National Committee of Yoruba Youth (NCYY)