By Ifeanyi Izeze
As said by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, the Nigerian Army will be undertaking a unique one month military operations nationwide to tackle banditry, kidnapping, insurgency and other security threats.
Buratai at the Army Headquarters in Abuja, also disclosed that “Operation Positive Identification (OPI) which is ongoing in the North East theatre of operation, will be extended to cover the entire nation.”
As said, “The various exercises, which the Army will conduct in conjunction with other security agencies to boost synergy and inter-agency cooperation among the services and security agencies, will take place between November 1 and December 23, 2019”.
On Operation Positive Identification, Buratai explained that it was to curtail the movement of bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, ethnic militia, cattle rustlers and other criminal elements to other relatively peaceful states to perpetrate their crimes.
“Operation Positive Identification will run concurrently with these other routine exercises during the period,” the army chief disclosed.
Now, as the Nigerian Army announced the commencement of this simultaneous routine military exercises in all the geo-political zones of Nigeria, the first thing that comes to mind is to ask: Is Nigeria at war with itself since we are not being invaded by external forces?
How did we get to this point that the military has taken over our civil space in matters that could have ordinarily been tackled by the Police Force and Department of State Security Service? So what is actually the duty of the Police and the Department of State’s Service if the military can take over as small as the responsibilities of fighting armed robbery and kidnap gangs?
Aside the huge cost of these military operations in terms of funds, and human resources, we should actually re-examine if we are really not overstretching our military.
Despite how good and well-intended the stated missions seemed, the frequency at which these operations are coming these days should actually worry our leaders, more so when curiously none of these military operations has ever been decisive in their missions.
As announced by the Nigerian Army, the exercises running concurrently include: Exercise Ayem Akpatuma II in the North Central and parts of North Western States including Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi and Taraba as well as Kaduna and Niger States in Nigerian Army’s 1 and 3 Divisions Area of Responsibilities (AOR) including Headquarters Command Army Records, Guards Brigade and 707 Special Forces Brigade
Exercise Python Dance (Egwu Eke) IV which will be carried out in the South Eastern part of Nigeria comprising Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States in Nigerian Army’s 82 Division Area of Responsibility; while Exercise Crocodile Smile IV will as usual take place in the South South and parts of South Western States including, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Lagos, and Ogun in Nigerian Army’s 2, 6, 81 and 82 Divisions’ Area of Responsibility.
Also, the Nigerian Army Women Corps will stage a robust show of force/confidence building patrols in some selected locations in Nigeria.
Is it not mind-blowing that at the last count, Nigeria, a country that is not under attack from outside has over 14 full -scale joint military operations all geared towards internal security – maintaining law and order, peace and security?
The Police and DSS were supposed to be our internal security first responders but these two agencies have been degraded that both seem to have lost the reasons for their existence. The DSS in addition to hanging around politicians and political office holders, is now more interested in doing EFCC’s job in fighting corruption and raiding Bureau d’ Change markets rather than engaging in generating timely and quality intelligence to aid in the nation’s internal security efforts.
Two things easily come to mind: We failed over the years to upgrade the capability of our police force to cope with internal problems. Also, we more than ever before, prefer military solutions to solving problems even where mere dialogue would have worked. These are failures of our government (s) for which steps should be taken to correct.
Is it not shameful that we have a well-funded and fully equipped secret police service agency in this country and we had groups like the Boko Haram, Niger Delta militants, bandits, and rampaging Fulani herdsmen metamorphosed from village criminal gangs to the present well-organised international syndicates without being spotted and checkmated at the onset?
What happened to our intelligence gathering in this country or those who were to check these miscreants actually looked the other way for whatever reasons while the different groups garnered strengths to inconvenience everybody? How do you explain that a group of people (not spirits) would gather and plan to execute heinous attacks on individuals, schools, and even communities and dastardly implement such acts without our security agencies (Police, DSS and even the DMI) picking an iota of early-warning intelligence at the pre-planning, planning, and execution stages? They only know about such attacks and other crimes only when it has been successfully executed and someone would tell me there is no complicity. We need to be more serious with ourselves as a nation of peoples.
Whether anyone wants to hear this or not, the Nigerian military may be doing a good job today in getting involved in internal security operations but this is not without some serious consequences to the future of our armed forces and the Police also. If the military completely takes over our civil security management, the police will sooner than later become irrelevant and thus also metamorphose to become part of the security challenges that we have to deal with as a nation of people, that’s if this scenario is not already playing out.
The federal government should honestly look at this issue with a view to re-inventing and re-engineering our Police and State Security departments to effectively take over majority of the internal security operations and freeing our military from the encumbrance of chasing armed robbers, kidnappers, and cattle rustlers. This is my point. God bless Nigeria!!
(IFEANYI IZEZE writes from Abuja: [email protected]; 234-8033043009)