Can any person out there explain with any level of substantial analysis and compelling articulateness why Nigerian soldiers are not obliged to have respect for the law and constituted authority?

Can there also be any enlightenment as to why soldiers should be very quick at calling their fellow citizens banza, bastards, bloody civilians, and other vulgar names? Or why for a little infraction, it is okay for soldiers to order fellow citizens to start rolling inside a dirty gutter?

Could the young people of our beloved country be advised on how a governor of a state should have responded to the man in a mufti driving a motorcycle against traffic by merely saying, “I am a soldier, Oga sir”?

The order by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the arrest of a man who identified himself as a soldier for driving against the traffic and the kind of words some purported soldiers use in a viral video to respond to the governor in video clips raised so many questions.

The governor was on his way to the Ojo campus of the Lagos State University (LASU) for the inauguration of the Femi Gbajabiamila Conference Centre when the incident occurred. While passing through the Lagos-Badagry Expressway in a convoy, Sanwo-Olu encountered the motorcyclists, from which one of the arrested identified himself as a soldier, and immediately ordered their arrest.

The video showed many of the riders and passengers abandoning their motorcycles and fleeing as the governor’s security operatives gave them a chase. A few escaped while a handful were apprehended. While being arrested and taken away by security operatives, one of the offenders said, “I am a soldier Oga sir”.

The incident has attracted several news stories and social media comments, but these have more than anything raised so many questions.

Everywhere, the military is a bastion of discipline and leadership training. In developed countries, having a military background is an advantage when contesting a political office. Here in Nigeria, we equally have several military men, serving and retired, that we are proud of.

But it is an error of judgment for many of our soldiers to believe that they are supreme to the law and constituted authority in the state they reside.

Being a good and responsible citizen of any state requires the inhabitants, including military personnel and visitors, to have different degrees of respect. The different dimensions of respect include, but are not limited to, respect for oneself, respect for others, respect for the law, respect for the environment, and respect for authority.

A Yoruba proverb says, ‘Ilu ti ko si ofin, ko sese’ (any society without laws ceases to have the notion of sin). The obvious lack of respect for the law and constituted authority by some soldiers in Nigeria is shattering.

It is funny how military men think they are superior to everyone in the country. This notion is the source of arrogance by the “I am a soldier Oga sir” fellow and a yet-to-be-identified soldier who appeared to be defending his supposed colleague in a viral video, who faulted Sanwo-Olu for the arrest of the soldier.

Reacting to the arrest, the soldier, who believed that his colleague had done nothing to deserve an arrest, said the governor had no right to arrest a soldier, especially in front of his barracks. He claimed that soldiers are not under the control of any governor, but their senior officers.

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Indeed, the logic of the soldier in the viral video and his fans is not only weird, but also explains the extent of reorientation needed to restore or reset thinking of a lot in the country.

It is not really a surprise that some commentators on social media are calling attention to how in the United States of America and Britain, uniform men and women are more respected. Some are also questioning if the governor and his cabinet members are not also breaking traffic laws. This is what political and ethnic divides have turned many to. This is how illogical we have become as a people, and we all complain that the country is not moving forward.

The question is, how many times has anyone seen the governor (Sanwo-Olu) flouting traffic regulations? Must we always justify the wrongdoings of citizens just because we see our leaders as bad?

These are the same citizens that want Nigeria to become US, UK, UAE, etc overnight, even when they are not ready and willing to play their part as responsible citizens. Why can’t individuals have personal resolutions to contribute meaningfully to the progress of the nation by standing out and being outstanding in all they do?

The point being made here is that, while acknowledging the important roles and sacrifices of our military men and women, it will be out of place to grant them immunity from obeying law and order.

The state governors should insist on adequate punishment for errant military personnel whenever they break the law. A former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, in July 2012, once arrested an Army colonel and a staff sergeant for committing traffic offence. Not only were they publicly shamed, they were also handed over to the authorities for sanctions.

This must be emulated by state executives.

Military officers who commit crimes, after going through internal disciplinary action, should be handed over to the police for prosecution.

No serious society will tolerate the nuisance being displayed by many of our officers on the grounds of recognizing only their superiors in the military.

Though traffic was not the only problem Sanwo-Olu has chosen to tackle, traffic management remains crucial for any government in the state. There is no room or reason why some sections should be above our traffic law.

The issue of discipline among soldiers must be accorded the prominence it rightly deserves. Globally, the military thrives on discipline. Ours must not be an exception. Hence, those who fall short of expectations should be shown the way out. There should not be any attempt to protect those that bring their image into disrepute as this will send wrong signals among the rank and file.

In a democratic society, no one is above the law. The sight of so-called soldiers raining abuses on the governor of a state is, to say the least, appalling. It should be strongly condemned by every well-meaning citizen.

*Omojoye, a public affairs analyst, wrote in from Palmgrove, Lagos.