Alex Badeh: A General's Valediction Of Contradictions
“... Unfortunately that has not been our experience as a nation. Over the years, the military was neglected and under-equipped to ensure the survival of certain regimes, while other regimes, based on advice from some foreign nations, deliberately reduced the size of the military and underfunded it".
The above extract from the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff's speech, General Alex Badeh, during a pull out parade organised in his honour, was all thatNigerians needed to havefurther glimpse into the lies, falsehood and insincerity thatcharacterise the fight against the madness called BokoHaram in the country. Yet, the government wants public support and cooperation to end the scourge.
Truly speaking, this 'revelation', ordinarily, would not have generated these reactions and public commentaries-it is a notorious fact already known to Nigerian, includingthe international communities-but for the singular reason that the maker of theclaim, during the reign of the immediatepastregime,had emphatically told Nigerians that the military was well equippedand motivated to take on the insurgency in the country head on, even when available facts suggested otherwise. It is against this backdrop that the retired General's farewell speech has continued todominate media space and provoke debates.
To be sure, Alex Badeh'stenure, as the Chief of Defence Staff, witnessed one of the low turns in the quest to wipe out the annihilisticgroup and build a strong army. Under him, Nigerian territories were decimated by the dare devil sect. Civilians and soldiers alike became daily 'meals'of the rag tag terror group. It was amidst these senseless killings, destructions and apparent helplessness ofthe then Federal Government that the Governor of Borno state, AlhajiKashimShettima, whose state became the biggest victim, decided to alert the public about the superior fire force of the sect group compared to the poorly equipped and low morale Nigerian army. Yet the former CDS and his then employers lampooned the governor's claim with the following scanty words;“It is clear that Governor Shettima does not have the expertise to categorize or classify the effectiveness of any weapon,”.
It took the outgonedefence chief almost two years and at expiration of office to accept what had become an open secret in the country. Nigerians, especially the victims of the sect's attacks, should feel insulted and scandalized by this belated truth. The army officers who were court- mmartial and accused by Badeh for an act of cowardice only that they demanded for better equipment and funding for the military, deserve an unreserved apology from Alex Badeh and the Federal Government. Badeh ought to have started that farewell speech with an apology to the victimized soldiers. He ought to have also apologized to Nigerians for grossly misleading them on the truestate of the Nigerian army at material time. But he could do none of this because Nigeria is not a society where honour and sobriety take center stage.
The former CDS is a metaphor of everything that is wrong with the country's leadership and public service. Oftenhere, political appointees conceal the truth and realities from their appointors in a bid to keep their jobs. We lack men of integrity and principledfolkswho will look straight into their employers'face and tell them the bleedingtruth, regardless of the consequence. Badeh falls underthis categorywho daily sacrifice patriosm and professionalism on the altar of blind loyalty andpersonal gains. This belated revelation by the retired General, who had once lampooned his officers for asking for an improved and a better army, is nothing but an insult on our collective memory, and we should condemn it in itstotality.
Nonetheless, Badeh's disclosure, though belated and contradictory, should serve as a a catalyst for the President Buhari-led government to probeinto the fiscal expenditures of the military in the past eight years. It should worry us that inspiteof budgeting close to N2trn for security in the past 8 years, the military is still underequipped, while the insurgency in the North East continues to rage. Badeh and other military top brass who held sway in the years abovementioned should be made to explain how that mind boggling amount was deployed and who got what. Whoever is found culpable at the end of the day must be made to face the music.
Essentially, Badeh's claim has further made the call to revist the outcomes of the mutiny trials carried out by the immediate past regimemore louderthan ever. We do not need any other hardevidence to know that the exercise was a smokescreen aimed only at concealing the cesspool of corruption in the military. The convicted soldiers in theso-called court martial trials were merely used as scapegoats by the military top echelons to detract their complacentin the fight against the terror attacks in the country.
Sincerely, the country is in dire need of men and women with conscience and principle whose loyalties are only to theNigerian people and the laws of the land. Obviously, the country needs less of the calibre of the former CDS who are only interested in protecting their jobs at the expense of public interest.
Okoro Gabriel, Esq. writes from Lagos.