BY BABAGANA ABBA DALORI | OPINION, YERWA EXPRESS NEWS, JULY 30, 2017
At a time when the good people of Borno State were rejoicing that war against terrorism has come to an end, the State is again plunged into mourning after terrorists breached the defence of our soldiers. The attack on NNPC staff and University of Maiduguri students is one of the worst recent attack not only on the military and our citizens but to the entire state as the Minister announces the closure of oil exploration in our region.
Implicit in this support was the tacit hope that the military top brass would learn from the pass and come up with a secure way of crushing the threat posed by terrorists without endangering the lives of our citizens. After the attacks in IDP camps, many hoped that the blood of our citizens and the young men killed in the line of duty, many of them barely into their mid-20s, would not be in vain. Then another attack happened at Magumeri/Gajiganna axis and it became apparent that we have been tilting at windmills.
Our problem is more than just an amoebic and virulent enemy, the Boko Haram. There is a problem in the military, and it sits right at the very top of the command. Many attacks in few days against us are not an accident or bad luck but it is recklessness. Losing many of our people in few weeks attacks speaks not to the consequence of going to war but the utter incompetence of the high command. Among other critical weaknesses, it signals a leadership with little sense of history and, tragically, forecast.
Worse, it suggests that the generals and commanders are recklessly deploying young men to enemy territory without putting in place the requisite measures to secure the citizens. Ultimately, it seems that the high command is more focused on ticking the political boxes of deploying soldiers than their fundamental duty of ensuring the safety of citizens and the entire State. This is worrying.
Borno cannot be safe if our soldiers and Civilian JTF are routinely slaughtered in battles. The military represents more than just the country’s might and willingness to secure its borders. It is a symbol of stability, hope and you said it, national pride. Yes, pride to protect the country but also pride that comes with the appreciation from the citizens and leaders for the personal sacrifices our Civilian JTF and soldiers make.
Pride and the attendant appreciation are self-reinforcing catalysts. The recent attacks, most especially the one at Magumeri/Gajiganna are crippling this equilibrium. This is why we believe together with the political leadership, the top military brass owes the people of Borno an apology.
Some people say if they speak out, heads will roll; they MUST come out and speak because at this critical time, heads must roll!
From the sketchy information available, our soldiers were caught unawares and the militants took advantage of the ensuing chaos to overrun their defences. How strong was the defence? What information, if any, came through our intelligence agencies, and what was the response of the top military command? Where was the reinforcement and how quickly were these stand-by units deployed? If past actions are anything to go by, these questions will remain unanswered.
We acknowledge the cost and strain this war has visited on the soldiers and their generals. However, we are disappointed by the fatalistic attitude of the military at the top. Soldiers die in battle, but there is something horribly wrong when attacks becomes the inevitable outcome.
The army Chiefs always promise swift action to ensure safety of our citizens. Not surprisingly, like the political elites are wont to do, these were empty words. Efforts to get any clarity of thought have been rebuffed by the signature response of endangering “national security”. Yet, there can never be a bigger threat to national security than a military command that appears to be insular to public concerns and welfare of its own soldiers.
While the need for confidentiality cannot be denied, the military top brass should not hide behind secrecy laws to shield themselves from scrutiny. This is especially so when the vulnerability of our citizens is as a result of incompetence or negligence. Definitely, SOMETHING IS WRONG SOMEWHERE!