REMEMBER the days when the Nigeria Military was enviably one of the most respected institutions in Nigeria? It was thought to be only for a selected few; at lease for those in the Southern part of the country. As teenagers in the 1990s, we respected and envied anyone who was able to get into the Nigeria Defense Academy; popularly called NDA. Then only those that either have the right connections or that have demonstrated some exceptional degree of extra-terrestrial intelligence (by scoring 100/100 in the “showmanship examinations”) would have the opportunity to be accepted into the Academy.
When NDA students visit home during their vacation, they would relay stories of how the NDA students from the North cannot write simple sentences or even spell their names; how some of the students do not have high school diploma and how they are forced to school daily by their parents/relatives. Here we are in the South under rigorous academic duress studying hard to make 100/100 in the examination so we can even have a chance. Some of our friends had to change their names to Mohammed, Mustaphar, Abdulkarim before registering for the NDA examination so they would have a modicum of chance to be accepted.
Till date, I still cannot recall the real driver behind our interest in the NDA. But we studied and worked so hard to pass the examination; albeit unsuccessfully. In the 3-4 years period when we were writing NDA examinations year-after-year, it was only 2 or 3 of us in that generation of friends that made it into the academy. We later found out that they were accepted not because of their high examination scores but because the academy needed to give the south some “quota” that year. Go figure!
Undoubtedly, the NDA produced some of the finest professional military men and women that contributed one way or another to Nigeria’s progress. They deserve our utmost respect and commendation; especially those who died in the line of duty defending the country.
The Armed Forces of Nigeria today is a far cry from those years. They have become so overly compromised that they will sell out Nigeria and Nigerians for a piece of bread. From gallivanting about the streets of Nigeria drinking and sleeping with prostitutes at night while Nigeria burns to Brigadier General Aliyu Momoh sheepishly taking commands from a bunch of “bloody Civilians”, it is now clear that the Nigerian military is in disarray; making the Nigerian state very vulnerable.
A Cameroonian commander was recently quoted as saying his military men do not run away from Boko Haram like the Nigerians. What a shame! Truth be told, some of the brave soldiers on the ground have tried to do the right thing. But their senior officers are all over the corridors of power begging for dimes and nickels while siphoning salaries made for the men on the front lines. Is there any wonder while the moral is very low among Nigeria soldiers?
I read with dismay the press release of Major General Chris Olukolade, Director Defense Information in which he stated “The Armed Forces of Nigeria is quite conscious of the fact that apart from its primary constitutional role of defending the country from external aggression and internal insurrection, it also has the responsibility of providing support in aid of civil authority such as the need to provide complementary security arrangement to protect our electoral process. It is on record that the military has successfully lived up to its responsibility while discharging this duty during previous elections without equivocation….It is on record that the military has successfully lived up to its responsibility while discharging this duty during previous elections without equivocation.”
Really? Was that what Brigadier-General Aliyu Momoh was doing in Ekiti state? If the Nigerian Military has not lost her moral compass, one would have by now heard an announcement about serious ongoing investigation into the purported infamous taped conversation between the Nigerian Military representatives, Governor Ayo Fayose, Musikilu Obanikoro and Minister for Police Affairs, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade.
Nigeria water-ways, airspace and borders are the most porous in the world. Anyone can ship in, fly in and cross in virtually anything, anyone at anytime. Nigeria Armed Forces is a sinking ship that needs to be rescued.
It is high time that the Nigerian military started to produce again a new generation of competent and professional men and women of integrity who are committed to serving the Nigerian people and not politicians and business men.
Until the Nigerian people see an investigation that proves Captain Sagir Okoli’s tape was fabricated, they will consider Captain Sagir Okoli a true soldier and a hero who deserves a National Award. If the Nigerian military continues in her present directionless trajectory, they will loss the remaining sliver of confidence of the Nigerian people.