Corruption in our Defense Sector: Recall the Millionaire Generals!

Posted by Eze Eluchie | 10 years ago | 3,517 times

Corruption is a debilitating disease which when it manifests in any entity serves to demoralize, de-motivate and deviate from purpose. When this societal scourge overwhelms sacred institutions of State, it ultimately serves to destroy.

For decades, the Nigerian state has ostensibly devoted a substantial part of its national budgets on the Defense sector. Despite the fact that the country has not been involved in any wars for over 40 years, series of military dictators, and some ‘democratically elected’ ones, who ruled the country, lavishly helped themselves to the national purse under the guise of expending incredulous sums to equip and procure ‘state-of-the-art’ military hardware for the armed forces and keep our soldiers ready to defend the country’s ‘territorial integrity’. In some years, an astonishing one quarter of the nation’s budget was devoted to the Defense sector!  

Nigerians were led to believe, by their (mostly Military) rulers, that the country, on account of its ‘military might’ and ‘concocted population figures’ was the ‘giant of Africa’. This phrase was often, embarrassingly, repeated even when reality was pointing in the other direction.  The robust engagement of our soldiers in several multi-national peacekeeping missions served to create the illusion amongst some Nigerians that in deed their military was as purported. Most had not realized that the core equipment requirements, save for personnel, were usually provided for such peacekeeping operations by multinational institutions such as the United Nations Organizations and some countries who benevolently offered to provide such equipments.

Present efforts at confronting and curtailing the extremist Islamist terror elements in our northeast region, primarily a domestic concern, has thus proved to be the first real opportunity Nigerians, and indeed the international community, have had to assess the capabilities of our armed forces. Thus far, the outcome has been disgracefully shocking. Rather than having the best equipped fighting force in the sub-region, we have situations where our soldiers have to repeatedly make ‘tactical withdrawals’ into neighboring Cameroun, in their efforts to flee from rag-tag band of terrorists; Rather than use air power to decimate terrorists at their camps, our compatriots in the northeast regions are forced to scammer into forests to avoid long convoys of marauding terrorists who operate for endless hours, raping, killing and looting at will; Rather than pursue terrorists out of Nigeria, we have the pathetic scenario in which the armies of our neighboring countries pursue terrorists back into Nigeria with no one to available or willing to do the needful.

As a result of our gigantean military and defense budgets and the high level of corruption in our defense sector (a scourge which permeates our polity), Nigeria has ended up having some of the richest retired soldiers in the world! Some of our ex-Generals are Billionaires whose spuriously sourced wealth can only be compared to that of drug barons. Upon retirement, several of these ex-soldiers, buoyed by the wealth they amassed in office, quickly buy their way into elective public offices.

Military Dictators and their soldier-cronies who reaped bountifully from their misrule of the Nigerian contraption have consistently regaled us with their willingness to get back into uniform to fight for the preservation and continued existence of the Nigerian contraption. Some of these characters include, but is by no means restricted to the following - Ex-Heads of State: Olusegun Obasanjo, Mohammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalam Abubakar, former Minister of Defense, Theophilus Danjuma and the current President of the Senate of the Federal Republic, David Mark and several others in their mold. With reports of territorial gains by Islamist militants who have declared the carving out of an Islamist Caliphate out of Northeastern Nigeria, these ‘gentlemen’ should be encouraged to, as a matter of urgency, get back into uniform and proceed to our northeastern flank to defend the proverbial ‘territorial integrity of Nigeria’?

The President and Commander in Chief of the Nigeria Armed Forces should immediately set in motion protocols to compel the recall of all living past Dictators and Military personnel who had held political offices during the reign of military juntas in Nigeria. When such retirees are assembled, they must be deployed to the battle front to confront the Islamist militants – at the very least they should be stationed in Maidugri, the besieged capital city of Bornu State. To avoid ‘family issues’ serving to distract these ‘worthy heroes’ from their lofty tasks, the immediate families of the so identified and recalled military officers should be compelled to relocate to the same cities as where their spouses are ‘serving’.  It was the mismanagement of resources, particularly Defense Ministry budgets, presided over by these characters that has placed our fighting forces in the pitiable situation where they are constantly been routed by bands of ill-trained religious zealots.

Resulting from the corrupt antics and malfeasance of some of these past top-brass, hundreds of our youths who willingly volunteered to serve their country's armed forces, have been unnecessary dispatched to their early graves in the hands of demented terrorists – There should be some accountability for the losses and deaths suffered so far in Nigeria’s war against terror! I am very sure that these militants will, upon sighting the likes of the ‘gentlemen’ I listed above, retreat in full speed to the sands of the Sahara from where they emanated from. Well, if the Islamists don’t retreat, we would have at least afforded our ‘gallant ex-Generals' an opportunity to put their carcasses where their collective greed has placed Nigeria.

We declined to heed the persistent call for a holistic restructuring and renegotiation of our contraption and now we have to live the consequences thereof.

NB: In writing, I am not unaware of the reach and vice of those who have profited from corruption; the evident harm they have occasioned and continue to inflict on not only Nigeria, but the entire African continent, overrides considerations for what the corrupt will do.

Picture: Three of Nigeria’s multimillionaire ex- military dictators: Ibrahim Babangida, Olusegun Obasanjo and Mohammadu Buhari

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