The public announcement late yesterday (08/10/2015) to the effect that the Chief of Defense Staff (Gen Gabriel Olonisakin) has inaugurated a 10-member committee to study the doctrines and procedures of the military and come up with workable plans to renew the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) is a welcome development and a clear departure from hitherto “jack of all knowledge and master of nonentity” approach of various public institutions in Nigeria including the country’s public coercive or security institutions. The Nigerian Military statement under reference was signed by Group Captain Wap Maigida late yesterday in Abuja on behalf of Acting Director Defence Information, Col. Rabe Abubakar and was reported in the media including the News Express Online.
It is on record that Nigerian public office holders and their institutions hardly consider informed and expert opinions as they concern topical social, economic, scientific and political issues particularly those coming from intellectual and cerebrated civil society communities. They also hardly attend to and consider written representations or public interest letters addressed to them from these expert communities and hardly accept and learn from their policy mistakes and blunders. As a matter of fact, they are blended and indoctrinated in immunity of impunity.
Barely 48 hours ago (07/10/2015), we issued an informed public statement, titled: 1,700 Terror Killings & Renewed Bombings Under Buhari: Chasing Bomb Detonators With Machetes, in which we came down heavily on the Armed Forces of Nigeria including the Army, DSS, NIA and the Nigeria Police Force for using approaches unknown to the modern intra-State warfare in their counter measures against insurgency activities ravaging the country since 2009. In other words, the Armed Forces of Nigeria have been heavily criticized by Intersociety for using inter-State warfare approaches to confront intra-State insurgency violence in Nigeria. The anomalous approaches are clearly antithetical to human rights and humanitarian doctrines guiding modern internal armed conflicts. They are also unknown to the post cold war military strategies or approaches aimed at tackling insurgency, guerrilla or terrorism.
That the likes of Retired Generals Olusegun Obasanjo, Theo Danjuma, Muhammadu Buhari, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Ibrahim Babangida, late Sani Abacha, to mention but a few, became generals was not because of their expertise in modern military or warfare artistry, but crudely by virtue of their ability to cease public communications signals and announce the ousting of their former bosses from the Dodan Barracks in military coups and counter-coups. This is the military generalship of the Nigeria’s military’s inglorious epochs. Unfortunately, that crude tradition is still the stock-in-trade of the Nigerian military till date. Added to this are the habitual office rankings and promotions largely built on nepotism and favoritism and devoid of merit and outstanding performances in the confines of modern integrated military know-how or expertise.
Military doctrines are never static, but steadily dynamic. For instance, in the eighties, Ethiopia used to have the largest military soldiers in Africa with over 500,000 officers. Yet, at the same time, the country was simultaneously at war all its fourteen provinces. But today, its soldiers are under 100,000. China globally has cut down its soldiers from about 4million in the past eight years to 2.3million in 2015.
The instances above clearly show that global and modern soldiering has gone scientific, making maximum use of information computer technology (ICT) and highly trained and exposed human intelligence. The concept of war has also changed steadily from inter-State warfare to intra-State warfare since the end of cold-war in 1991. For instance, of 64 active or violent conflicts ravaging the world presently, most, if not all of them, are intra-State warfare. In the said intra-State warfare ravaging the world of present time, about 597 intra-State armed groups are directly involved. In all these, the modern warfare concept now revolves around man-machine-environment as well as wars-without-borders. Similar situations are applicable in the promotion, defense and protection of human rights where non State actors have now surpassed State actors in the realm of gross human rights abuses.
Intersociety has carefully studied and agreed with the Military Committee’s terms of reference, which are below stated as follows: “to re-appraise previous AFN’s transformation activities and suggest options for realistic reforms”;“to determine ways of improving on operational efficiency in the services”; “to examine ways of fostering mission-oriented training in the armed forces”; “to evaluate the foreign courses that are currently attended by AFN personnel and suggest ways of ensuring that such courses tally with desired milestones”; “consider measures for improving on troops adherence to Law of Armed Conflicts in Internal Security and Peace Support Operations”; “ determine impediments to effective logistics support and recommend the way forward”; “identify current constabulary engagements of the AFN that could be relinquished to the Nigerian Police and other paramilitary organizations”; “ examine ways of fostering value orientation of service personnel through nationalism and the promotion of services’ core values”; and “suggest ways of improving on career planning in the AFN”.
The Nigerian Military spokesman also added that “the Committee will also take a critical look at personnel welfare, civil-military relations, policy formulation and implementation, media operations, participation in UN/AU/ECOWAS missions, personnel spouses and barracks youths, plights of ex-service men, career review and national development. The Committee which may also consider other matters that may result in reforms that would reinvigorate the AFN and empower them to seek inputs from the Service Headquarters, serving and retired senior officers, relevant MDAs and other stakeholders to enrich its recommendations.”
As fantastic as the above terms of reference are, we wish to urge the leadership of the Armed Forces of Nigeria to also introduce compulsory ICT programs for all officers and personnel of the Armed Forces. All the ranking categories from Private to General or their equivalents must be captured in the compulsory exercise. There shall also be networking and digitalization of all military formations in the country. Apart from out-service or foreign military courses for selected members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, the AFN leadership should also make maximum and steady use of the resources of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) particularly in its robust academic fields of Criminology & Security Studies as well as Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution.
The two prestigious courses are offered both at undergraduate and post graduate levels in the University and their materials are well researched and internationally competitive in matters of intra-State conflicts methodologies and their solutions. There is a maxim that says that armed robbers are better caught or bottled in their hideouts than when they are on rampage.
This showcases the importance of using preventive approaches including preventive security intelligence in tackling insurgency onslaughts in Nigeria. To this end, the trio of Directorate of Military Intelligence, Department of State Security Services and National Intelligence Agency created by the National Intelligence Agencies Act of 1986 must totally be reorganized and re-orientated and exposed to the doctrines of modern intra-State warfare counter-measures, which are clothed with human rights and humanitarian doctrines. Also very important is the need to effectively manage the conditions of service of members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN). The AFN must be rid of nepotism, favoritism and ethno-centrism. Sacking or recalling, outside the confines of diligence, due process and fairness, of members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria particularly members of the Intelligence Community could be very catastrophic for the country’s public security and safety.
Like we said earlier, ways must be found to make the Nigeria Police Force operationally effective and institutionally viable particularly as they concern the policing of the country’s internal security. It is on record that the 370,000 plus Nigeria Police Force (NPF) are a major parasite and an army of termite draining the country’s lean commonwealth with little or nothing to show for it. It is a truism that the NPF annually takes away 40%, if not more of the country’s spending on public security particularly in recurrent expenditures. The total annual input and output of the NPF in Nigeria’s internal security is less than 20%. Apart from social forces and realities that make most citizens to obey law and social rules, the fraction that are social deviants and law breakers far outweigh the competence and capabilities of the NPF.
We urge other public institutions particularly the public office holders and the leaderships of DSS, NIA and the Nigeria Police Force to borrow a leaf from the foregoing bold step taken by the Armed Forces of Nigeria (primarily composed of Army, Navy and Air Force), which first acknowledged that its operational modus operandi is incoherent as it concerns present insurgency counter measures, leading to its boldly initiatives in search of expert hands and minds to assist it in devising and following the right paths. The concept of global village also includes marketing, bargaining, sale and procurement of socially and scientifically researchable ideas as well as their cross-fertilization.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program