Boko Haram: Obama Berates Jonathan On Army Chiefs’ Corruption At UN

FOLLOWING the sudden upsurge of the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents in the Nigerian North east, with the mighty Nigerian Armed Forces appearing to wilt in the face of the affront to our territorial integrity, many Nigerians wondered why the surge of support from the advanced countries and friends of Nigeria did not produce any positive result.

It has since emerged that the United States has increasingly become aloof towards Nigeria as a result of what it sees as frequent abuse of human rights in the war on terror, as well as the high scale of corruption in the top echelons of the military. In fact, the dynamic American Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James F Entwistle, has several times called for accountability among the service chiefs. There have been grumbles in the army that we lack the equipment to fight though spending on defence has remained high in the past three years. This has led to acts of indiscipline in the rank and file, which precipitated the recent court martials.Jonathan-Obama1The problem is so deep-seated that it became a major prompter of talks between President Goodluck Jonathan and his American counterpart, President Barack Obama during this year’s United Nations General Assembly.

There are allegations that moneys meant for the purchase of arms and ammunitions are sometimes diverted, contracts overpriced or obsolete equipment procured to fight and insurgent group that is freeloading on the looted military arsenal of the late Libyan dictator, Muammar Gadhafi. This emboldened the insurgents to abandon dodgy guerrilla tactics and opt for the conventional warfare style of seizing territories and branding them part of the dream “Islamic Caliphate”.

About six months ago, the crisis in our defence and security sector boiled to the surface when the Minister of Defence, Alhaji Aliyu Gusau, reportedly threatened to resign unless the Service Chiefs allow him to scrutinize crucial memos connected to our defence needs, while the Service Chiefs insisted on military autonomy.

Nigeria's Chief or Army, Kenneth Minimah
Nigeria’s Chief of Army, Kenneth Minimah

We call for an enquiry to ascertain the truth of this issue, including charges that certain retired Service Chiefs had come into “sudden riches” with which they are pursuing political ambitions.

Even though the military must maintain a certain level of autonomy over operational procedures, the matters of financial expenditure remain open to scrutiny by political authorities in a democracy.

Corruption has been a major indicator for indiscipline and weakness of armies since the dawn of time. That the Nigerian armed forces which excelled in all former military operations both within and outside the country since it was created suddenly started yielding to terrorists is indicative of serious lapses within.

Whatever it is must be quickly identified and dealt with to reinvigorate the Nigerian armed forces and restore confidence among our friends in the international community.

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