Very interesting documentary and interviews with Nigerian soldiers and the National Security Adviser Lt-Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd). Dasuki said:
- On the fate of Nigerian soldiers sentenced to death for mutiny: “The military law is clear…There could be executions…you know what the punishment is. It is like getting involved in a military coup”. He likened mutiny to a military coup: failure attracts death.
- Says quality of some soldiers is poor. Many soldiers joined the army simply to get a job, but without any desire to go to the battlefield.
- Denied accusations that soldiers are poorly equipped; citing the fact that Boko Haram shows of massive inventories of weapons seized from the army as evidence of how well armed the army is.
- He admits to issues in weapons procurement from Western countries, and that Nigeria “hit brick walls here and there” when trying to buy weapons from other countries. He said Western countries gave “all sorts of excuses” for not selling weapons to Nigeria.
- Over time – the military being in government does not go much good. It affects the morale and discipline of the army. The “main pre-occupation of any military administration is self-preservation. Your greatest threat is the military.” Thus their capability to overthrow a sitting military government is reduced if they are not armed to the teeth. Dasuki is well qualified to comment on this issue because he has been a part of multiple military governments and has participated in a military coup.
Colonel James Hall (former British officer who spent last 3 years of his career advising Nigerian military):
- Said he has never come across a military as disciplined as Nigeria’s: “They are an immensely disciplined force. I don’t think I’ve ever come across an African army that has a clearer says of discipline at all ranks”. Says the discipline of the Nigerian military would challenge that of Western armies. However that discipline can break when subjected to extreme pressure in the battlefield.
- However there are “massive challenges” facing the Nigerian military. “They have got it badly wrong…things have got worse rather than better”.
- “Their equipment is old, broken, and is frankly not well maintained“. Soldiers are facing Boko Haram fighters who are armed with identical weapons to the soldiers.
- Communications are poor – commanders often try to communicate with their units using mobile phones (which are unreliable, and often get switched off during military operations).
- Thinks Nigeria’s military should be given pick-up trucks, APCs, and radios.
- Training: there was a time when the Nigerian army was “the best trained” and one of the best equipped armies in Sub-Saharan Africa. military takes academic training very seriously but “their tactical training is not as good as they think it is”. Troops need more combat training, e.g. coping in a firefight/combat.
The Nigerian military has struggled to have any effect in the face of Boko Haram’s intensifying attacks. But with the right combination of military and non-military, short- and long-term strategies, the militants can be stopped, as Max Siollun explains.
BBC interview with a sacked Nigerian soldier. He claimed that he and his colleagues had only 20 rounds of ammunition each, and faced Boko Haram fighters armed with anti-aircraft guns, and machine guns mounted on Toyota Hilux pick-up trucks with generators so they can keep firing. He says he feels embarrassed, cheated, and humiliated by the imbalance of firepower between Boko Haram and Nigerian soldiers.
Video of an event that took place on Tuesday December 9 at Chatham House in London. Zainab Usman and Olly Owen of Oxford University along with Professor Kuna of INEC.
Follow three pampered (borderline spoiled in one case) young British kids who are sent to Lagos in Nigeria to work as mechanics in a tough, no-nonsense garage. Watch them try to get to grips with eating local spicey food (including rice and stew, and goat intestine), being offered accommodation in a “face me I face you” and them going to a Lagos beach party.
It was a journey for these young people. My favourite is the Scottish girl who got on with things in her new environment, got to grips, and seemed far tougher than her male counterparts. I also loved the scene where she is inspired after meeting a Nigerian lady that trains young women to be mechanics.
Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh has announced that Nigeria has agreed a ceasefire with Boko Haram and that Boko Haram will release over 200 schoolgirls it kidnapped over 6 months ago.
“A ceasefire agreement has been concluded between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad (Boko Haram).”
The negotiations took place in neighbouring Chad, mediated by that country’s President Idriss Deby, he said. “Boko Haram issued the ceasefire as a result of the discussions we have been having with them,” said Mr Tukur. “They have agreed to release the Chibok girls”.
Interview with the new Emir of Kano Muhammed Sanusi II (AKA Sanusi Lamido Sanusi) about the Boko Haram insurgency in northern Nigeria.
Key points made by Sanusi:
- Islam “preaches education for all adherents”.
- Marrying young Muslim girls off at a young age is actually a cultural (not Islamic) practice “that is not consistent with the teachings of the (Muslim) religion)”.
- Poverty level in northern Nigeria provides a fertile breeding ground for militancy. Says the same thing happened in the Niger Delta.
- Boko Haram insurgency must be tackled via an economic “Marshall Plan” for northern Nigeria.
- Says insurgency calmed down in Kano because of investment in infrastructure there.
- “As long as people are gainfully employed they are not likely to jump into the bandwagon of insurgency”.
Nice features by the BBC on African/Nigerian food being cooked and served by locals in Salvador, Brazil. Amazing how much African influence there is in Brazil (including worship of Yoruba gods).
Brazil is actually home to the world’s second largest black population and some of the black population still maintain strong roots with their African heritage.