Time To Sack Ihejirika,By Ali M Ali



Gen IhejirikaMinus any sugar coating, Monday wee hour attacks on military installations in Maiduguri by ‘guerrillas’ called Boko Haram was a mighty slap on the face of the once mighty Nigeria Military. A ‘slap’ is even mild. That is being charitable. It was a blow. A profound blow. The kind of blow that would leave the receiver so dazed that they would begin to see ‘stars’. Stated inelegantly, the military was given a bloody nose by a group of misguided youths the high command loves to dismiss as rascally inclined ‘children’.
All talks about the attacks being ‘repelled’ were face saving.
Look at the size of the loss after the fury of a ‘ragtag’ army. 33 Artillery Regiment leveled. 79 Composite Group of the Air Force torched. Bulumkutu Divisional Police Headquarters, devastated. Over 100 vehicles burnt. I don’t see ‘repelled’ here.
By their own admission, the military high command acknowledged the ‘incapacitation’ of five aircraft. ‘Incapacitation’ is euphemism for ‘destruction’ Thumping a frail chest; the military claimed ‘killing’ 24 insurgents and miraculously lost none of their men. This is incredible. How could the anarchists saunter into Maiduguri, the capital of Borno, a state under emergency rule ’incapacitate’ 5 planes decommissioned or not, and not a single soldier was ‘incapacitated?’ How could, according to Salisu Baba, an eyewitness, “more than 2000 of them, some with explosives, some with rocket-propelled grenades” saunter into the township without detection? What were the soldiers, presumably, on “red alert” doing that they couldn’t protect their turf? Of the billions of naira devoted to counter-insurgency, how come intelligence gathering is virtually zero?
Questions like these make conspiracy theories an attractive refuge. One such is that the ‘Commanders at the top’ are feeding fat on emergency rule. The insurgency is their cash cow. They pray it lasts forever. Such dare devil carnage like the early Tuesday mayhem is the gun powder they regularly require to “scare” a patently naïve presidency into pumping more money into what has become a white elephant project.
Counter-terrorism in Borno and indeed all the states under emergency rule as presently being conducted by, especially, the Army under Ihejirika, is an evil white elephant project that will yield no positive result except for the drivers. Either by acts of commission or omission, they have turned it into a business venture needlessly wasting lives of heroic and patriotic soldiers in the rank and file category, to profit. Troops deployed to fight these insurrectionists are clearly ill equipped to fight the enemy. Their firepower is inferior. They are mere sitting ducks at the mercy of an deranged adversary. The near casual manner Boko Haram strikes in emergency rule states calls for the president to re-think the strategy of ending it.The Army chief, Ihejirika can’t do it.
It is ironic that the military that has brought honor for the country in international military assignments can’t defend itself from the onslaught of ‘disparate’ hobos masquerading as reformers of a decadent system. Consider, if you may, our military peace keeping exploits in Liberia, Sierra Leone and just recently Mali and their seeming helplessness in dealing with Boko Haram, one then begins to wonder what went wrong.
In late October, these elements whipped silly a wimping assortment of the military in Damaturu. They were clinical and specific. They attacked military and police installation, leaving their signature anarchy all over on their exit.
A normally taciturn Governor Gaidam was loud in locating the problem in the inferiority of the military weaponry. Each time Boko Haram over runs the military which is regrettably becoming routine, a spin of how they were ‘repelled’ follows invariably. The military authorities must think all of us are zombies-automatons incapable of seeing through their mountain of half-truths and outright falsehood. A friend told me under oath that his brother, an air force personnel has gone missing since the day of the attack. Several calls to his phone have not been answered, yet the military is bandying the victory flag claiming zero casualties. The dawn raid has so demystified the might of the military as to call for the immediate sack of all the service chiefs. Lt General Azubuike Ihejirika should be the first to be fired if I were the president. The Head of the Department of State Security (DSS) too should go. What the latest attack has done is to further expose the gross incompetence of the Commanders driving the war against insurgency. Sufficient intelligence has been gathered three days ahead of the attack, yet the military high command did nothing to frustrate the attack. But its sharp shooters are available to bust “sleepers cells” of Boko Haram in Apo in the federal capital without sufficient proof.
Sacked, Ihejirika should then be court-marshaled for wasting the lives of soldiers needlessly in the course of the battle against Boko Haram.
Many watchers abroad are of the considered opinion that the nation’s military is professional enough to route out these hobos wielding big guns. What is lacking is the political will. It is about time the president forgets his vaulting ambition for re-election and does the right thing. Sacking the army chief for starters will signal a stronger resolve to fight insurrectionists. Chances are that the President won’t because appears sold on the idea that the rebellion is aimed at scuttling his re-election bid and possibly ruin his governement. It suits some elements well that some of these states are in turmoil. And by some coincidence, they are all controlled by the opposition. This conspiracy theory posits that some elements surrounding the president have the ill-informed idea that they could rig the election a lot more easily in these troubled state under this arrangement than under normal circumstances. But then, these are only conspiracy theories!

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