Re: Boko Haram: Nigerian Soldiers Complain of Corrupt Commanders
By Abdul-Azeez Suleiman
Recently, Sahara Reporters, an online news portal, published an article with the above headline that immediately seized my attention.
I became particularly interested in the hope that facts might finally have emerged from within the military that might at least set the country on the path of solving the Boko Haram puzzle.
As a media practitioner, expectedly, I attach great importance to quality of reports by weighing them against the credibility of the medium and most importantly, the originator and origin of the report.
In this case, while I have always had some respect for the ability of Sahara Reporters to tumble on scoops and their courage to break them, I however as a general principle treat with caution any report that is credited to anonymous sources much less, anonymous writers.
My instincts were immediately switched on alert when I read under that attractive header only to see that the name of the author of that report has been concealed.
Usually I don't even bother going through reports purportedly filed by anonymous authors or hinged on anonymous sources. But I decided to go against that principle of reading ethics by going through the whole length of this report.
By the time I got to the end of the report, I was completely disappointed to find that it was another of those crafted stuff that are largely opinionated though dressed in garb of reports.
Such tailoring is in almost every instance guided to serve some interests by manipulating facts and feeding the reader with can't.
This is however not discountenancing the known fact that the top military hierarchy has been infested by greed and ineptitude which has hampered the operations against the insurgents and prolonged the insurgency with the attendant loss of both military and civilian lives in thousands.
Whereas this distress cry from the soldiers who have been made to face deadly and more equipped enemies has been on for some time now, the situation has stubbornly refused to change; in fact it even keeps deteriorating.
This however does not in any way go to suggest any form of incapability on the part of the Nigerian soldiers whose heroism and excellent performances have been globally acknowledged in operations that are free of official corruption.
No reasonable Nigerian is therefore in doubt that a pervading corruption in the top defence and security sectors are definitely and directly responsible for the persistence of the insurgency.
This much has even been attested to when the United States team currently assisting Nigeria on the matter, refused to cooperate with the Nigerian security system by declaring that its leaders have been rendered unreliable by a combination of excessive greed and disabling level of corruption.
What is in question however, is that from start to finish, that ghost writer placed a heavy reliance on equally ghost military sources to direct his slime at a select government official while deliberately, though unprofessionally attempting to sidestep more cogent facts that are already public knowledge as pointed out above.
For instance, while the reporter only singled out the just appointed Defence Minister, General Aliyu Gusau whose name he could not even spell properly, visible attempts were made at covering up those actually suspected of all the culpabilities raised in the article.
Every discerning Nigerian know for instance, that General Gusau assumed the office of the Minister of Defence precisely on the 3rd of March just two months ago which makes it highly hypocritical for anyone to attempt accusing him of corruption with regards to the huge defence allocations suspected to have been misused in relation to the ongoing Boko Haram war.
Here I mean that while I not sure any defence budget had been passed since Gusau's appointment, there are however other security top guys that have been there since the start of this mess.
And we are all witnesses to the logjam created by the service chiefs when Gusau assumed work that very nearly made him drop the job; and it is still on record that the service chiefs and leaders of other security units have refused to give the Defence Minister the required cooperation.
Similarly, we all know that counter insurgency funding has lately been moved from the Defence Ministry and placed to the office of the National Security Adviser long before Gusau's assumption.
The writer would have discharged more of the social responsibility placed on the media if he had had the courage to call the spade by its name.
To be specific, I think the attention ought to have been focused on service chiefs and former defence ministers and heads of security units that have been in place since 2011.
For clearer analysis, it would be instructive to not that Nigerian defence budget rose from N264 billion in 2010 to N348 billion naira in 2011. This rose to N921.91 billion in 2012 and to N1.055 trillion in 2013; and as a matter of fact Gusau was not even in active service within these periods.
In specific details, the defence minister from July 2011 was Dr Halliru Mohammed with Mrs Olusola Obadah as state minister. When Halliru was removed in June 2012, the ministry remained in the hands of Mrs Obadah until September 2013.
And National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki had been in that position since the sack of the late Azazi in July 2012, while from September 2010 until 2014, the Chief of Army Staff was General Ihejirika replaced by the present General COAS Minima. And Ola Ibrahim was Chief of Defence Staff since 2010 until early this year.
As pointed out earlier, the National Security Adviser with about N1trillion counter insurgency funds said to have been released to his office so far should have come under the observation of the writer in question but his name was never even mentioned anywhere.
Suleiman, a media practitioner based in Abuja, could be reached on [email protected] ; 08063151582.