Military postings and national imperatives

Before the emergence and redeployment of some officers of the Nigerian Army including General Olusegun Adeniyi Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, many other soldiers, officers and theatre commanders posted to Operation Lafiya Dole were routinely transferred or redeployed based on the strategic and tactical decisions or appreciation of the Chief of Army Staff who in the first place, identified and posted them to serve in the Theatre or anywhere of his choice. Let us recall it was the Chief of Army Staff that first identified and appointed General Adeniyi as Theatre Commander. I recall how gallant officers like Major Generals Lucky Irabor, Rogers Nicholas, Ibrahim Attahiru and Dikko were all posted and redeployed from the theatre. In fact, when the people of Borno received the news of the transfer of General Irabor to the Multi National Joint Task Force in Chad, locals became dejected because his outstanding performances were so glaring for all to see. The INGOs, NGOs, traditional leaders, state government and local authorities all testified that the man performed extremely well and this informed the reason the then governor of Borno state, Senator Kashim Shettima decided to organize a befitting send forth party for him. After the glorious departure of General Irabor from the theatre, officers like General Attahiru, Nicholas and Benson Akinruloye were posted in and later posted out but no one made any unnecessary insinuation talk less of a tirade to show disapproval for their redeployment.

I am yet to ascertain the reason a vocal minority in the Nigerian media especially those who are more visible on the internet took it as a sacred mission to speak, nay launder the image of a general who failed to follow military ways of reporting to his superiors. When did the military Commanders started reporting to the COAS via WhatsApp recording in the presence of the troops? Gen Adeniyi appears too erratic and controversial to be the Theatre Commander Operation LAFIYA DOLE. 

A lot of people don’t know why Governor BG Zulum challenged and shouted on General Adeniyi on camera when he accused soldiers and other para military officers of extortion and bribe taking from commuters. It was because the theater commander was allegedly fond of visiting the Government House, and accepting monetary gifts from the governor. This is something that generals like General Irabor will never do.

There is nothing that General Adeniyi had seen that someone like General Irabor had not seen in the theatre as well as in Chad. I recall the misfortune that occurred in Rann when the Airforce bombed innocent citizens and another incidence where a local government official was allegedly involved in aiding and collaborating with the insurgents was apprehended but General Irabor avoided the media propaganda and handled it professionally like a professional general which he was/is. There is nowhere in the world where security matters are discussed on the pages of newspapers like we do in Nigeria. Citizens must trust and have faith in the Armed Forces and allow them to do their job.

Now to the main reason behind this article. I read with great dismay an article written by one Frederick Nwabufo in which he said amongst other things that, “If there is anyone to be heard on the Boko Haram war campaign, it is General Adeniyi. He has had a close shave with death from attacks by the insurgent multiple times.” The writer titled his piece Gen. Adeniyi removed for wailing over Boko Haram? Is Nigeria allergic to the truth? He relied on the video footage of a conversation with his superior, possibly General Buratai, which the general recorded even though he clearly knows that it is not allowed for soldiers and officers to record anything on war front. Yet he recorded this footage and deliberately leaked it out to score cheap popularity, discredit the government and sabotage the war efforts of the federal government.

I wouldn’t have said anything if what the former theatre commander said in the video footage was true but on the contrary the information contained therein was perforated with exaggeration and blatant lies. In the video footage, General Adeniyi said, “Boko Haram has fired more than a hundred mortal bombs at us; they have fired more than 80 to 100 RPGs at us in addition to more than 8 to 10 gun trucks from every side since yesterday…We have used more than 20 MRAP tyres here…We have changed close to 250 Hilux tyres due to the terrain. This is what we are facing.” I want to say categorically that most of what the theater commander told his principal were exaggerated and some were lies because reliable sources who knew the theatre commander and who were also at the war front with him faulted his claims. In fact, this informed the reason the theatre commander said that “the soldiers are not misbehaving or disobeying orders…nobody is running.”

In my own opinion, what is the benefit of recording a sensitive conversation with your principal when you have made it clear to him that you will come and see him in order to proffer solutions on what needs to be done? Furthermore, how in the world did that recorded conversation got leaked to the press?

Whatever transpired, irrespective of whatever anybody can say is that the Chief of Army Staff did his periodic appraisal of all his officers especially those at the senior levels of commands and appointments. He knows their professional competences, motivations and suitability for deployments. He assesses his officers on the job he assigned and remove them when he pleases. This is the tradition in the armed forces anywhere in the world. So I wondered why the brouhaha or mischief when the COAS decided to effect redeployment at the theatre of operations and injected new people to lead the war in order to fulfil the mandate given to the Army by the President.

As the Chief of Army Staff, Gen Buratai is not someone who stays in Abuja and sends troops to fight; there is virtually nowhere in the entire theatre of operations that the COAS has not visited, he knows the locations and most of the Commanders, officers and key senior non commission officers. He usually receives real time situation reports about the operations from multiple sources.

Under his leadership, the welfare of troops has been tremendously improved, equipment and necessary gears have been provided to the troops. That doesn’t mean that there are no challenges; there will always be challenges in the areas of intelligence and the prosecution of modern Warfare. All the necessary requirements and needs in the area of military supplies are being addressed by the federal government of Nigeria.

Winning Asymmetric war requires total support and cooperation of all and to lead men in battle require tact, discipline, foresight, firmness and diplomacy which the posted out Theatre Commander may have some deficit. He lacks the temperament and ability to galvanize the required support and cooperation of the locals and some of his personnel. Hence the moment

General Adeniyi began to view the locals with suspicion and then failed to forged a good alliance with sister security agencies in Borno like the DSS and the police, that was when some fellers started signaling his impending movement out of the theatre. Also it is obvious that his collaboration with the CJTF as well as traditional leaders had been very poor. For any theatre commander to successfully prosecute this war, he must cultivate good and harmonious relationship with the locals, sister security agencies, state government as well as traditional leaders.

We must therefore not forget that we are being confronted with international terrorism in a vast terrain. Nevertheless, the Nigerian Armed forces under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has so far done and has achieved a lot and is doing everything possible to procure new equipment to give more teeth to the Army.

The information provided by General Adeniyi in the viral video footage is not new; we all know that the terrain is vast and additional fighting gears like Army aviation can change the tide. The question that we all need to ask is why must the General record such blatant lies that he clearly knows will boost the morale of the insurgents and then released it to go viral? What does he want to achieve with that? In which way does this help in the successful prosecution of the war? His video footage, if anything, has succeeded in misinforming gullible Nigerians to criticize their Armed Forces, discredit the efforts of the government and most unfortunately, made the rag tag insurgents to appear as if they are invincible. This must not be allowed to continue. I Commend the military for their daily sacrifices, and I Commend the Nigerian Army for the bold decision to effect some changes which the dynamic army spokesman Colonel Sagir Musa described as “routine/normal exercise for professional effectiveness and efficiency.”

Dr. Abubakar MS,07011653611 (SMS only)

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