At this point in time, everything in Nigeria will kill you. But perhaps nothing guarantees a greater threat to human life in Nigeria of today than taking a position of conscience and speaking truth to the lies, inadequacies, incompetence and murder of democratic ethos and principles that have so far preserved our fragile nation.
Where truth prevails, however, redemption is inevitable. This is why some of us will continue to call out the Muhammadu Buhari rulership for its complicity in wrecking the most havoc on this country and it’s citizens since independence. At no one time has human life in this country been so cheapened like the period we live in. The perils of being a struggling nation is compounded by a leadership without a blue-print for growth or development and the result has been a governance experimentation at the cost of infrastructural and human lives.
The recent death of over one hundred (100) gallant soldiers of the Nigerian Army should cause us to pause and truly reconsider the leadership in place. There are so many questions that beg answers, too many indications that the negligence and ineptitude of Nigeria’s Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces would be the ultimate undoing of Nigeria.
100 soldiers dead ! Not 10, nor 30,nor 50 but over 100 soldiers dead all in the line of duty to preserve our territorial integrity as a country. Even the death of a single soldiers should provoke the country through its elected power-wielders to action. With over 100 soldiers dead our flags should fly at half-mast, purposeful mobilisation to assert the superiority of the Nigerian military over a supposed ‘ragtag’ group of insurgents should be a primary agenda. The public, particularly the families of the deceased, should be receiving the condolences of the government and placed under welfare to assuage the pain of losing loved ones; husbands, wives, fathers, mothers and lovers, in a protracted war against a side initially declared ‘technically defeated’ by this government.
Rather than receive the assurances of the government, the general public and the surviving family members of the slain soldiers have been faced with stony silence from the government. Even the traditional media outlets, in uncharacteristic manner, appear reluctant to give publicity to these deaths. But for the incidence of social media, we may very well have remained unaware of this deaths or the magnitude of the losses suffered by the Nigerian Military.
Such subterfuge against public sensitivity has become the hallmark of this government. President Buhari and his gang of media aides remain embroiled in an irritable bromance with the contents of Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s new book “My Transition Hours’ while ignoring the weightier issue of the decimation of troop morale and the loss of public faith in its capacity to successfully prosecute the war against Boko Haram.
When the question is asked, Why is the Nigeria Military losing this fight there can truly be no satisfying answers. Reports have been received claiming that the insurgents are better equipped, motivated and organised,and this suggests that our military are fighting back ill-equipped, barely motivated and at a loss of morale.
With an increased budget in defence, one would have expected better results in the war theatre up north. For a government that have demonstrated a renowned capacity for shifting blames, I wonder who would be at the receiving end of its abdication of responsibility in the death of these gallant soldiers.
Do we blame Dasuki still? Is he sabotaging the war by crippling the supply of much needed weaponry to our soldiers ? What has happened to the special defence funds appropriated for the purchase of military hardware for the purpose of this war in the last three years ?
I suppose we could go on and on, but the lives lost remain lost. While politics may be a game of numbers, warfare is a matter of mortality. We must never play politics with the lives of those who have left the warmth of friends and families to trudge up the dangerous arid space up north, putting their lives constantly on the line to help keep this nation as one.
With the poor handling of the death of these soldiers, we can expect that more units within then military would lose morale. Our image as a sovereign nation with a capacity to defend our territory is being questioned internationally. This government’s strategy of remaining silence when issues are at the front burner, only to comment when the pain is numb and muted by the passage of time is pure evil. It is the very height of insensitivity and political unrighteousness.
I implore the military hierarchy to rise to the defence of its men. These soldiers do not fight as Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa but as Nigerians. Nigeria and Nigerians, have a duty to honor them even in death and preserve their memories. We would be a nation of savages to sweep such deaths under the carpet.
The theatre of war is a serious affair. I seriously hope this government would have the common sense to inspire confidence in our military once again and not treat with levity issues concerning welfare, weaponry and general safety concerns. Soldiers are humans with loved ones, too.
My appreciation goes out to every member of the military still out there fighting on behalf of the rest of us. May God guide your steps and give you victory. Please know that Nigerians at home and abroad are noting your efforts and eternally grateful for it. Never again will your efforts be taken for granted.
Pelumi Olajengbesi Esq. is the Lead Partner at Pelumi Olajengbesi & Co. Law Corridor and National Secretary, Coalition of Public Interest Lawyers.