Nigeria: ls The Military Strong Only Against The Weak?

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BY Onyibe , development strategist

On December 12, 2015 in Kaduna State, North Central Nigeria, the military allegedly mowed down some Shiite Muslims who allegedly tried to obstruct their path. Till date, their leader, Ibrahim El Zarzaky and his wife are still in detention, although authorities like to sugar-coat it as protective custody.

It is common knowledge that Bornu and Yobe states were practically turned into killing fields by terrorists and citizens have remained exposed to being raped, kidnapped and sold into slavery or killed for nearly 10 years.

In fact, the National Bureau of Statistics , NBS and Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN attribute the current high cost of food partly to displacement of farmers in the north east due to acts of terrorism which has been preventing them from tiling the soil for food.

A quick trend analysis reveals that under the regime of other democratically elected presidents like Umaru Yar’Adua of blessed memory who succeeded Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, whom Buhari succeeded, although civilians rubbed off the military on the wrong side, such irksome Nigerians were not sent to their early grave by deadly military force.

Going forward, given what we know now, before choosing their leaders, l suggest that Nigerians should apply the cautionary measure that lawyers refer to as caveat emptor-buyer beware.

Unsurprisingly, owing to the approach of the Nigerian military in tackling insurgents within the internal territory of Nigeria, international civil liberty organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have had course to indict them in several reports.

And some Nigerians who still had confidence in the military had risen in its defence, but with the plan to carry out operation Crocodile Tears in the South-South and South-West, the military would not be enjoying public support any more as pictures of the gruesome murder of civilians (some of which are fake) trending in the social media have been assaulting the senses of those who have come in contact with such horrific and gory footages.

Given the scenario above, I won’t be surprised if the videos trending in the social media discourages future plans to acquire more arms from countries like the USA whose laws, especially the Leahy Act, (named after a senator who sponsored it) forbids the sale of deadly arms to military forces considered not to be trustworthy to use the armament responsibly.

Perhaps it’s pertinent to point out at this juncture that l have both patriotic and personal reasons and zeal to support the military because my father was a soldier from the medical Corp before he passed away on active duty towards the end of the civil war in 1970.

Erroneously concluding that l am an adversary and targeting me for assault of any nature, would be unfortunate and it would not deter me from speaking the truth to the authorities, in the best interest of WE THE PEOPLE of Nigeria.

Before the military writes me off as a black leg who betrayed his constituency by virtue of being an old soldier’s son, allow me to quickly share a fascinating wisecrack: A crab was once running on a shore and admiring its beautiful foot prints. Suddenly, a huge wave splashed and washed away the foot prints. The crab said to the wave “l considered you one of my best friends, why did you do that to me”? The wave replied. “A fisherman was following your footsteps that is why l wiped it off”. The moral of the story is that sometimes when we believe some people are hurting us, they may be helping us.

As a public intellectual, l have taken, without equivocation, standing up for the voiceless as a sacrifice that must be made on behalf of the hoi polloi who by every stretch of imagination are presently detained in a sort of political Intensive Care Unit, lCU due to the inclement and precarious socio-political atmosphere which pervades all strata of society.

It may be recalled that a couple of years ago, a group of American social scientists including a former USA ambassador to Nigeria, authored a damning report that Nigeria as country may split up before 2019. Rather than looking at the report dispassionately to identify the underlying factors that could trigger such an unpalatable outcome, authorities denounced the report and dubbed it a satanic work by enemies of Nigeria.

Today, given the deafening noise from the saber- rattling of separatist agitators from the south east, south-south, south west, and the middle belt, if adequate and urgent precautionary steps are not taken, and the panacea recommended by the authors of the report are not heeded, Nigeria would remain on the precipice or even fall off the cliff.

And that possibility of a split up which thankfully may be remote now, is an eloquent testimony to the efficacy of the prediction of the American social scientists which was denounced rather than being acted upon. The military need to know that as an institution of government, it is owned by all Nigerians and not just by those who lead it now.

The men and women of that inestimable and highly valuable organization that is meant to be an instrument of national defence and stabilization, must subject themselves to scrutiny and criticism as the executive, legislative, and judicial arms of government and even the fourth realm of the estate-the media do.

Put succinctly, just as Nigerians criticize politicians in parliament , governors, ministers and commissioners in the executive arm as well as judges in law courts when they fall short of expectations; much the same way that civil servants in the bureaucracy are railed against if there is failure in service delivery and medical doctors as well as nurses endure the ascetic tongues of Nigerians when they perform below expectations; because they have thrown themselves into the public arena, the military must be ready to absorb public condemnation if they flounder and mend their ways accordingly.

One other thing the military must recognize is that they cannot be allowed to intimidate those of us they love to refer to as ‘Bloody Civilians’ just because they have custody of the arms and ammunition that WE THE PEOPLE procured for them to protect us.

  – Onyibe is a development strategist.