I listened with trepidation and heavy heart to the interview granted the Hausa Service of the BBC aired on 4th January, 2019 by a Nigerien official or citizen to the effect that Nigerian political and security officials were not ready to accept the fact that our alleged weaknesses on the battlefield in the North East are too glaring. The Nigerien appealed to the Nigerian authorities to have a change of heart and willingly accept help from neighbouring countries whose forces should be allowed to cross the border, fight and exterminate the menace of the insurgents, remain on Nigerian soil for some time before handing over and later withdrawing to their own territories. First of all I condemn in no uncertain terms, the postulation by the Nigerien whom we regarded as a brother and therefore should be interested in the well-being of Nigeria and not the other way. The Nigerian Armed Forces are quite strong and reliable under an equally able and active Commander in Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari. Overheating the polity because of minor administrative fault lines already identified in the country’s security architecture is condemnable. We are aware that all the issues are being seriously addressed by Nigerian authorities.
Military and Police contingents from Nigeria who dutifully served under the auspices of the United Nations, ECOMOG and other regional and continental bodies on peace keeping duties from 1960 to date have earned laurels and commendations because they have not only acquitted themselves but made Nigerians very proud people in the World. Certainly the Multinational Joint Task Force based in Ndjamena, Chad Republic, which comprises elements from Nigeria, Niger, Chad Benin and Cameroon cannot be said to be inactive. Any alleged failure in recent times in the battle front may therefore rest squarely on all the contributing countries that set up the Force. The debacles occasionally experienced are normal in war situations. One must not be an expert in modern warfare to allude to the possible existence of collaborators from the civilian population in Borno and Yobe States in particular who supply logistics to the rebels at the expense of timely prosecution of the war. They are slowly being fished out. Here we must commend the boys in the civilian JTF for their wonderful contributions in the war against insurgency. Similarly one cannot discountenance the existence of fifth columnists in the ranks of the fighting forces. The indefatigable Chief of Army Staff and his officers have tightened their belts already and extinguishing these and other challenges squarely through the provision of the required logistics and training of troops to bring them up to date. By and large peace had been restored in the North East subregion, thanks to the Buhari Administration’s overwhelming efforts to degrade the nuisance of insurgency. The commendable roles of the Nigerian Armed Forces deserve our respect and encouragement.
Nigeria should appeal to its counterpart in Niamey to restrain its officials and citizens generally from making unsubstantiated outbursts and disparaging remarks that may discourage the fight against terror currently ravaging some parts of the West African subregion including Niger. Nigeria has no American or French bases unlike its neighbours. Nigeria has not gone cap in hands to beg the French Foreign Legion or any foreign meddler for intelligence of military significance. Where it is for mutual benefits, these are often withheld and Nigeria has not cried out. This is not the first time one heard discordant tunes flow across the borders from seemingly friendly environments. I once watched a video of alleged Chadian soldiers casting aspersion on their colleagues from Nigeria derogatively referring to them as “mata”. From the Nigerien side too, a foreign radio station once aired similar lies. Nigeria is currently contending with open hostilities of some foreign backed non-governmental organisations based in the North East who refuse to operate on the same wave length with local authorities.
We condole the families of the gallant officers and rank and file who lost their lives in the course of duty nationwide. All hands must be on deck to support our gallant armed forces in these trying times. I wish them more grease to their elbows as we enter 2019.
Abubakar Usman, Matawallen Lushi, Bauchi.