Since 2009 when the acts of terrorism being perpetrated by the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, became more pronounced, concerned Nigerians and the international community have wondered why the Nigerian security operatives could not end the the impunity of the terrorists.
Recently, during his declaration of state of emergency in five northern states, President Goodluck Jonathan said, “extraordinary measures” would be brought to bear against the insurgents with a view to “restore normalcy” to the region in the shortest possible time.
The president gave orders to Nigerian troops to carry out all necessary actions within the ambit of their rules of engagement to put an end to the impunity of insurgents and terrorists.
Weeks after the declaration of war against the terrorists, nothing has shown to indicate the country is winning the war against terrorism.
Rather, the terrorists have carried out more daring heinous attacks which indicate that all is not well within the Nigerian military.
* President Jonathan under pressure to win war against terrorism
Many reports, within and outside the country, have suggested that equipment needed, both for the Nigerian Air force and the Nigerian Army who are in the fore-front of the battle to dislodge the hoodlums, are lacking or not in sufficient quantity while the available ones are in comatose state.
It was also gathered that intelligence gathering mechanism which should play pivotal role in containing the terrorists has remained nothing to write home about.
According to Saturday Vanguard’s investigations, the reason for these shortcomings are not far-fetched.
* Boko Haram insurgents
Security experts believe what the Nigerian military have in stock as tools, modern military hardware, equipment needed to fight the type of terrorism we are facing are unbelievably short of the standard required.
A pilot told newsmen that what the Nigerian Air Force needed to clear the Boko Haram terrorists of f their camps and level those camps were attack helicopters fitted with sand proof facilities and night vision windscreens. These helicopters would fly into and land inside Sambisa Forest without noise. From the air and with the night vision, we can see through the jungle, map out our strategies without their knowledge. But this equipment is not there for us.
Not too long ago, while commenting on the lack of equipment in the Nigerian Military, the Army, Navy and the Police claimed that their budget has never received 100 per cent of the budgetary approvals. They claim that only about 60 to 70 percent is what they get at the end of every financial year.
* Nigerian soldiers
Stakeholders believe these amounts for modern equipment and hardware did not portray the nation as one ready or serious about fighting terrorism or insurgency considering the air equipment needed by the Air Force for instance, the type of armoured tanks needed by the army, artillery guns, surface to air demobilizers and other technical weaponry.
The challenges facing the military were recently summarized as “inadequate budgetary allocations”. And that’s how the military sees it. Others admit this but note that it also goes beyond budgetary allocations.
Reacting to journalists’ questions on the military budget, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said that the Jonathan administration would give every necessary support to the troops who are hazarding their lives on behalf of all Nigerians.
*File photo of Boko Haram attack in Jos
She admitted that calling for increased funding was normal for military prosecuting a war or any special operation and that Nigeria’s case cannot be an exception, she adding that military funding was being treated with dispatch.
However, many people, including diplomats believe that the fight against the insurgency has dragged this long owing to the corruption in the system.
The US Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, Sarah Sewall, said recently that corruption is hindering Nigeria’s efforts at ending insurgency in the North-East.
Sewall, who appeared before a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, last week, alongside a Pentagon top Africa official, Amanda Dory, added that the military must overcome entrenched corruption and incompetence for it to rescue the over 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram on April 14.
She said that despite Nigeria’s $5.8bn security budget for 2014, “corruption prevents supplies as basic as bullets and transport vehicles from reaching the front lines of the struggle against Boko Haram.”
According to the New York Times, Sewall told the committee that morale was low and that desertions were common among soldiers in the 7th Army Division fighting the insurgents.
Hence, Vanguard believes if the war against terrorism is to be won, the Nigerian security agencies must cleanse themselves of Boko Haram sympathizers who frustrate the efforts of their colleagues and endangering the lives all Nigerians who have become targets of the murderers. The military will need to be well funded to purchase equipment and train their officers. And the fund so provided must be judiciously spent