Among high ranking security personnel since the menacing activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria is “security consciousness”. In short, no speech is, complete without highlighting security as every body’sbusiness. Thus, for this reason, the populace is further advised to take extra step to police their immediate environment, and suspect every unusual movement. While such initiative could be tagged worthy, the possibility of having everyone in the neighbourhood turn watchdogs remains a mirage and what exactly are these security laymen looking out for? Even when they sniff foul, what should they do? Raise alarm or call on the trained security personnel?
Assuming the very last option is adopted, what is the guarantee that these so-called-trained security personnel would live up to their bidding, amidst complaints of ill-equipped formations? These and many more questions seem to cluster my mind each time I am weighed down by the realities of the security challenges in Nigeria. But I am somewhat comforted by the words of the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.- Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika in which he said that the Nigerian Army is being restructured to meet the current security challenges in the country.
Of course, Lt-Gen Ihejirika, as the then Chief of Army Staff, could not have intended a deceit for his audience when he said and repeatedly too, that the Nigerian Army was being equipped and organised to cope with the present challenges of nation building in addition to protecting the sovereignty of the nation.
However, two years after Ihejirika raised the hope of Nigerians to the fact that the army was on its way to assume its rightful place in the security and defence business, some Nigerians are yet to come to terms with his statement. Many still see same as mere vague pronouncement. They ask questions such as “restructuring for what? On the other hand, a process which has lasted for two years and beyond, should be boasting of some level of visibility or transparency, but the story of the Nigerian Army has not been anything other than what we have known for ages. Although some accuse the military of going to roost due to prolonged peaceful atmosphere the country has enjoyed since the end of the Nigerian civil war even at that, does a dancer forget the dance step he knows best? While I will not want to believe that the restructuring of the Nigerian army is only in the area of increased mobility, as seen in the now ubiquitous Toyota Hilux trucks, army uniforms, boots, kevlar helmets and jackets, I would rather want to see the recent departure of 1,200 Nigerian security personnel for Russia as part of the restructuring and equipping exercise. This number, which includes members of the armed forces, police and members of the Department of State Services, DSS, has so far left for anti-insurgency training. Although, it was not revealed what yardstick was adopted in the selection of the participants, there are fears that the Nigerian syndrome may not be ruled out where the non-qualified are preferred for the qualified for reasons of vested interest as against the collective interest of the nation.
It is therefore, pertinent to state that the calling of the military had always placed the national interest above personal interests. Any attempt therefore to undermine that which has been, may be throwing the nation into a great jeopardy. The need to look inward with a view to searching out the functional, good-to-go combatants, that will go, learn and bring to bear which they have learnt must not be overemphasised at this point in our nation’s history. Again, while security could be seen as everybody’s business, we must not lose sight of the fact that those who have relinquished their pleasure, just to secure the lives and properties, must not go about their duties with bare hands while the enemies equip themselves with sophisticated weapons.