#Nigeria Army Is “an immensely disciplined force” (British Soldier) @BBC Documentary (@BBCTheInquiry)
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 National Security Adviser (NSA) Lt-Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retired) was spoke at Chatham House in London last week, in much publicised comments. Although Dasuki usually keeps a low profile he spoke frankly about many issues relating to Nigeria’s upcoming elections next month and the security threat posed by Boko Haram. Highlights from the NSA’s talk and answers to questions from the audience:
- He said that Nigeria will develop a new civil-military relations doctrine; to redefine how the military relates to the public – especially in areas where it conducts counter-insurgency operations. The military needs to move doctrinally from conventional warfare to asymmetric warfare. Nigeria has created a National Counter-Terrorism Center.
- He admitted that there have been “historical deficits” in the military; including the fact that the last significant weapons procurement for the Nigerian military was over two decades ago.
- He said his office will present a counter-insurgency narrative to undermine Boko Haram’s credibility and narrative by presenting “the true face of Islam” – counter to the message being presented by Boko Haram.
- The Nigerian government is open to negotiated solution to the Boko Haram insurgency, should Boko Haram be willing to dialogue.
- On allegations of sabotage in the army: Dasuki said the army has “a few cowards”.
- Boko Haram financing: he said Boko Haram obtains financing from bank and market robberies, kidnapping and ransom, and get fuel by staging fuel heists.
- The Baga attack: Chad and Niger troops withdrew from the military base in Baga, leaving only Nigerian troops there. Dasuki said the way the base was overrun was “not something anyone would be proud of”.
- Chibok girls: Dasuki thinks they have been dispersed, “some of them have been sold out…that is all we know”. United States officers are still conducting surveillance 24 hours a day. Nigeria has aerial surveillance footage, but he is “very hopeful but not very optimistic”.
- On the botched ceasefire announcement with Boko Haram: Chad’s President Idriss Deby received two letters purportedly sent to him by Boko Haram leaders who wanted to negotiate a ceasefire. Chad acted as an intermediary between Nigeria and Boko Haram. Dasuki stated his belief that there are “links” between the Chad government and Boko Haram’s leadership.
- Equipment of Nigerian Soldiers: Dasuki denied allegations that Nigerian soldiers are poorly armed/equipped. He reeled off a list of military equipment that Boko Haram captured from the Nigerian army in Baga, including: 6 armoured personnel carriers (each with at least 4000 rounds of ammunition each), and 4 artillery guns. He said lack of equipment is not the issue, but that there are “a lot cowards” among soldiers and that some of them “do not want to fight”.
- More than 70-80% of Boko Haram members are of Kanuri ethnicity.
Text of the NSA’s speech: Full text and video of Dasuki’s speech at Chatham House in London – DailyPost Nigeria
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.
There are two anniversaries today: (1) the anniversary of Nigeria’s first military coup 49 years ago on January 15, 1966; and (2) the anniversary of the end of the Nigerian civil war 45 years ago on January 15, 1970.
The heads of Nigeria’s army, air force, navy, police, the GOC of the 7 Division Major-General Ahmadu Abubakar, and the National Security Adviser Lt-Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retired), visit Chibok. Strange to see Major-General Abubakar there as press reports claimed he was removed from his command.
NIGERIAN ARMY – CHRONICLE OF COMMAND
|Chief of Defence Staff||Air Marshal Alex Badeh|
|Chief of Army Staff||Lt-General Kenneth Tobiah Jacob Minimah|
|Chief of Air Staff||Air Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu|
|Chief of Naval Staff||Vice-Admiral Usman Jibrin|
|General Officer Commanding, 1 Division, Kaduna||Major-General Kenneth Osuji|
|General Officer Commanding, 2 Division, Ibadan||Major-General Emmanuel Abejirin|
|General Officer Commanding, 3 Division, Jos||Major-General John Zaruwa|
|General Officer Commanding, 7 Division, Maiduguri||Brigadier-General M.Y. Ibrahim|
|General Officer Commanding 81 Division, Lagos||Major-General Bata Debi|
|General Officer Commanding, 82 Division, Enugu||Major-General Shehu Yusuf|
|Commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta (Operation PULO SHIELD)||Major-General Emmanuel Atewe|
|Commandant, National Defence College – Abuja||Rear-Admiral Thomas Lokoson|
|Commandant, Armed Forces Command and Staff College – Jaji||Air Vice Marshal John Chris Ifemeje|
|Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy – Kaduna||Major-General Mohammed Idris|
|Flag Officer Commanding, Logistics Command, Oghara (Delta State)||Rear-Admiral S.H. Usman|
|Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, Yenagoa (Bayelsa State)||Rear-Admiral P.A. Agba|
|Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, Calabar||Rear-Admiral O.C. Medani|
|Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Apapa (Lagos)||Rear-Admiral Samuel Alade|
|Air Officer Commanding, Tactical Air Command, Makurdi||Air Vice Marshal Umar Omeiza|
|Air Officer Commanding, Mobility Command, Yenagoa||Air Vice Marshal Samuel Abosede|
|Air Officer Commanding, Training Command, Kaduna||Air Vice Marshal Salihu Bala-Ribah|
|Air Officer Commanding, Logistics Command, Lagos||Air Vice Marshal Mike Iloenyosi|
|Chief of Defence Intelligence (Defence Intelligence Agency)||Major-General Sani Yakubu Audu|
|Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence (Defence Intelligence Agency)||Air Vice Marshal James Gbum|
|Commander, Guards Brigade, Abuja||Brigadier-General Anthony Omozoje|
|Provost Marshal||Major-General Patrick Akem|
|Chief of Operations at Army Headquarters||Major-General J.A.H. Ewansiha|
|Chief of Training and Operations, Defence Headquarters||Major-General Bonna Awala|
|Chief of Logistics at Army Headquarters||Major-General Olufemi Adeosun|
|Commandant, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Minna||Major-General Salihu Uba|
|Military Secretary – Army||Major-General Iliyasu Abbah|
|Chief of Army Standards and Evaluation (CASE||Major-General Ahmed Tijani Jibrin|
|Director of Administration, Defence Headquarters||Major-General Obi Abel Umahi|
|Commander – Army Headquarters Garrison, Abuja||Brigadier General Barry Ndiomu*|
|Director of Policy at Army Headquarters||Major-General John Nwaoga|
|Commandant, Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre, Jaji,||Major-General Sanusi Nasiru Muazu|
|Chief of Policy and Plans||Major-General Jack Okechukwu Nwaogbo|
|Commandant, Nigerian Army School of Infantry;||Major-General Charley Okoro|
|Director of Defence Information||Major-General Chris Olukolade|
|Director, Army Public Relations||Brigadier General Olajide Laleye|
*Son of the late Major-General Charles Ndiomu
|Chief of Defence Staff||Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim||Air Marshal Alex Badeh|
|Chief of Army Staff||Lt-General Azubike Ihejirika||Major-General Kenneth Tobiah Jacob Minimah|
|Chief of Air Staff||Air Marshal Alex Badeh||Air Vice Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu|
|Chief of Naval Staff||Vice-Admiral Dele Ezeoba||Rear-Admiral Usman Jibrin|
There has been a lot of “noise” in the Nigerian media about President Goodluck Jonathan’s supposedly controversial appointment of new military service chiefs for the army, air force, and navy.
To cut a long story short the main talking points are:
- The new heads of the army, air force, and navy appointed by President Jonathan are (respectively): Major-General Kenneth Minimah, Air-Vice Marshal Adesola Amosu, and Rear-Admiral Usman Jibrin. They replaced Lt-General Azubuike Ihejirika, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, and Vice-Admiral Dele Ezeoba (respectively). Badeh is actually still employed though. Although he was replaced as Chief of Air Staff, he was promoted to replace Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim who was also retired. Net effect = one promotion and three retirements.
- Expect the following rank promotions shortly: Badeh to Air Chief Marshal, Minimah to Lt-General, Amosu to Air Marshal, and Jibrin to Vice-Admiral. Promotions at this level of the armed forces usually require the heads of the army, air force, and navy to be three star generals (or equivalent), and the chief of defence staff to be a four star general (or equivalent). Badeh is currently equivalent to a three star general, and Minimah, Amosu, and Jibrin have two stars. Those ranks will probably change shortly.
Prior to the current appointments, the new men held the following posts:
Air Vice-Marshal Badeh – Chief of Air Staff
Major-General Minimah – Commander of the Nigerian Army Infantry Corps, Jaji.
Rear-Admiral Jibrin – Director of Training at Defence Headquarters.
Air Vice Marshal Amosu – Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command, Makurdi.*
*The statement announcing the new appointments by President Jonathan’s spokesman Reuben Abati actually messed up Amosu’s post by simultaneously claiming he was the head of the presidential air fleet, AND Air Officer Commanding, Tactical Air Command of the air force! Obviously Amosu could not have been in two different posts simultaneously.
People are literally foaming at the mouth with rage for a number of reasons. Namely:
- The new Chief of Army Staff Major-General Minimah is from the Niger Delta, like President Jonathan. Minimah is from Rivers State – right “next door” to the President’s home state of Bayelsa. The President is being accused of ethnic favouritism.
- Apparently over 30 (or 50 depending on who you believe) senior officers were bypassed in order to appoint Minimah. These officers will now be retired as they cannot serve under Minimah, who is junior to them.
Minimah graduated from the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) in 1981 as a member of the NDA’s 25th regular combatant course. Amosu is also a graduate of course 25, while Jibrin is slightly senior to Minimah and Amosu, and is a graduate of course 24. The new Chief of Defence Staff Badeh was a graduate of course 21.
What do all these references to various courses mean? The military is a hierarchical institution. It is not a hospital or manufacturing plant. When people get promoted, life does not just go on as normal. In a country like Nigeria which was under military rule for 28 years, military promotions have national security AND political implications. Heads of state have been assassinated and coups staged as a result of the mismanagement of military promotions. Therefore there is a well-established tradition that when a military officer is promoted to head any of the armed services, any officers who are senior to him are retired or removed from his operational command. This nips potential disaffection (and political crises) in the bud. It has been happening for several decades.
We do not know why President Jonathan appointed Minimah (maybe because he is a star, the best, he’s comfortable with him, he trusts him, because he’s from the Delta…). Whatever the reason, once Minimah (an officer from NDA regular course 25) got appointed to replace Ihejirika (an officer from course 18) – lots of officers from courses 19-24 had to go.
This has happened lots of times before. Several senior officers were retired to make way for Minimah’s predecessor Ihejirika! When former President Obasanjo retired Chief of Army Staff Lt-General Victor Malu (a course 3 graduate) in 2001, Obasanjo retired a lot of officers to make way for Major-General Alexander Ogomudia (also from the Delta – and four intakes below Malu) to become the new chief of army Staff. As far back as 1990 President Babangida also ignored lots of senior officers like Major-Generals Nasko, Duba, Useni, Nwachukwu, Haladu etc in order to make way for Salihu Ibrahim (who was junior to all of them) as the new chief of army staff. Lots of fine officers had to retire to make way for Ibrahim.
Military appointments in the General ranks are effectively political appointments because of the visibility and political sensitivity of such appointments. President Jonathan is currently embattled and is facing attacks on multiple fronts from his political opponents. Senior members of his political party are defecting and next year he is facing a mammoth presidential election against an opposition that is resolutely determined to get rid of him. However these overarching political events should not overstate the significance of what in most other countries would be routine military postings.
Are we really surprised that the President retired men who have been in service for over 35 years, some of whom are close to 60 years old? They had already passed the mandatory service limit of 35 years for military officers and were due for retirement any day. Their continued presence in service was at the prerogative of the President (AKA the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces). What President Jonathan has done with these military appointments is not remarkable and is no different to what his predecessors have been doing for four decades.
After President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the north-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe, army troop reinforcements have begun arriving in northern cities such as Maiduguri and Yola.
It is a long overdue move and I am surprised it took the President this long to declare a state of emergency. The state of emergency means that the army can take greater responsibility for security in those three states. Troops can occupy city centers, take over buildings, and arrest and detain suspects without trial. Two incidents seemed to have tipped the balance in favour of the state of emergency:
1) Boko Haram nonchalantly dismissed the President’s offer of an amnesty. By doing so, Boko Haram seemed to declare its intention to settle its scores with the government on the battlefield, rather than via dialogue. It seems that President dialogue is now ready to meet them on a battlefield rather than in a conference room.
2) The recent Baga attacks which left hundreds of people dead marked a new deadly escalation in the conflict with Boko Haram.
Although Boko Haram has launched attacks across the north and as far south as the capital in Abuja, the three north-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe in the Kanuri heartland, represent Boko Haram’s support base. It has taken over at least one-third of the local government areas in Borno state. Losing control of its own territory to a terrorist organisation seems to have been the last straw for the government. President Jonathan accused Boko Haram of declaring war against Nigeria.
Excerpts from the President’s national broadcast announcing the state of emergency:
Innocent civilians are likely to be caught in the inevitable shoot-outs between the army and Boko Haram. There are reports that Boko Haram has been forcefully conscripting new members, and threatening them with death if they do not kill in the group’s name within weeks of joining.
Nonetheless the state of emergency will be popular among the general Nigerian population. Many have accused the President of being weak and of treating Boko Haram with kid gloves. This state of emergency will boost his security credentials and demonstrate a willingness to forcefully confront Boko Haram.
Even if the troop surge proves successful, it would offer only temporary respite. Boko Haram can easily slip across the border into neighbouring countries, regroup, and return. Only a long term political and economic solution can permanently end Boko Haram’s violent insurgency.
Great video by Sahara TV interviewing Al-Jazeera’s Yvonne Ndege who visited Maiduguri in Borno State. Due to Boko Haram activities in the the state’s , and the Joint Task Force’s (JTF) heavy presence, the state has been heavily militarised.
While residents welcome the JTF’s presence, daily life has been badly affected with normal routine civilian life being heavily disrupted by fighting between Boko Haram and the JTF, JTF curfews between 9pm and 6am. However residents are so frightened that they do not leave their homes before 11am since gun battles between the JTF and Boko haram tend to rage in the early morning.
Some residents also accuse the JTF of indiscriminately arresting civilians whom they suspect of being Boko Haram members, and of summarily executing suspects. In their defence, the JTF say it is next to impossible for them to distinguish civilians from Boko Haram members since Boko Haram members might live with family members who are not members.
Are the tactics of the Nigerian army making the Boko Haram insurgency even worse? A report by Amnesty International entitled Nigeria: Trapped in the Cycle of Violence accused the army of carrying out summary executions, torture and detention without trial. It accused the army of breaching human rights with “impunity in the name of fighting terror”. Abuses include illegal executions and forced disappearances. The report warns that the army’s repressive tactics may increase support for Boko Haram.
The army’s spokesman for the Joint Military Taskforce in north-eastern Nigeria (Lt-Colonel Sagir Musa), denied the accusations.
Lt-Colonel Sagir Musa denied the allegations.