By MOLLY KILETE. Abuja
Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has said that the Army has the capability and wherewithal to crush Boko Haram and restore peace in the three states under emergency rule. The states are Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
Gowon, who disclosed this at the Abuja success summit organized by Redeemed Christain Church of God (RCCG) Harvest House Parish, said if the Army succeeded in surmounting the civil war which lasted 30 months and returned the country as a one united Nigeria, then the Boko Haram insurgency is a toy game in the hands of the military.
He said: “ I know that our Armed Forces have the capability. I was their Commander-in-Chief once and I can assure you they have the capacity to do well and win this war against insurgency”.
The former Head of State, while assuring Nigerians that the war against insurgency would soon end, said it was the hard work of the Army and other security agencies that has prevented Abuja, from being attacked by the terrorist group that is bent on wreaking havoc on Abuja, the federal capital.
He said that but for the effort of the military which acts swiftly on intelligence report, Boko Haram would have taken over the entire city which is their heart’s desire to show their supremacy.
Gowon urged Nigerians to join hands with government in the fight against insurgency that has taken over the North-East and expressed doubts if members of the sect are Nigerians”.
General Gowon told the participants, made mostly of youths as a young military officer he led the country and triumphed in the civil war that threatened the soul of theNigerian nation.
He said: “The civil war that we had to fight was not borne out of hatred, it was just a disagreement between two brothers, I was very concerned about the ordinary people. It was not out of hatred.
“My question is that these people who are doing this, are they truly Nigerians? because I don’t want to believe that a true Nigerian no matter how aggrieved, can do what these people are doing.”
Also speaking at the summit, Nigeria’s former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and former chairman of SURE-P, Dr. Christopher Kolade, urged youths to make sacrifice for the nation and make it a better place for all.
Dr. Kolade, who urged the youths not to run after ill-gotten wealth also charged them not to forget God, when they eventually make money.
He said: “When your silver and your gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, your God, remember that it is He that gives the power to be successful.
He recalled how he went to jail over a program while working as the Director of Programmes at the defunct Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and eventually became the Director-General of the organization two years later because of his hard work, dedication to duty and taking responsibility as a boss.
Also speaking, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who while assuring that Nigeria will not break up however, called on the youths to rise up to the challenges of the leadership of the nation.
She said: “ Nigeria is not going to break up, you might be the right crop of leaders that Nigeria needs and you don’t need to be afraid, you just stand in line to be counted”.
In his address, the host and pastor of the parish, Muyiwa Adebayo, said the summit was organised to give hope to the youths who are also the leaders of tomorrow to transform the nation. He said the summit is the third in the series organized by church.
(From Biafra Galaxy)
Posts tagged ‘North-East’
By MOLLY KILETE. Abuja
The Bornu Elders, Monday gave a graphic details of how life in Borno and the entire north east has been reduced to hell by the activities insurgents.
Addressing a gathering of Northern Elders Forum in Kano, Zanna Hassan Boguma who delivered a goodwill message on behalf of Borno Elders Forum declared that the entire region is now engaged in full time war from enemy within.
Boguma stated that “we have been seeing hell, our people are constantly decimated, our towns and villages razed, properties destroyed, schools and places of worship burnt, even innocent travelers were not spared” .
The elder stateman said that from the inceasant attack that the axis had witnessed in the last weeks was a confirmation of how vulnerable the entire region is.
He disclosed that the region has been turn in to a war zone with attendant humanitarian crisis, stressing that this is the time the whole country should mobilized to stop the carnage.
Boguma who doubted the intention of the perpetrators of this crime against humanity in the region was quick to add that “much as we know, the whole matter has nothing to do with claimed intention of a section imposing their will on the others, or issues of sharia or making the country ungovernable for the President or a religious war as they want to look at it”.
He however accused the Federal Government of lacking the political will to address the crisis, pointing out that Borno Elders is surprised at the grave yard silence of Government and its inability to implement several report on the insurgency turned in by expert engaged to do so by the same Government.
The Borno Elders noted that the solution to the crisis does not lie with the PDP or APC, maintaining that the situation at hand transcend politics and urged the entire Country to identify with them at the moment of need.
This catastrophe which has befallen us should be the concern of all Northerners irrespective of tribe, region, or creed. Those of you who are residing far away shold know that other citizens needed your sympathy and attention”.
Boguma posited that “until those who were namd as supporters, financiers, and alliesto the Boko Haram were brought to justice, until the political Boko Haram were apprehended and prosecuted, until the operations to contain this madness is sincerely handled, lives of our innocent villagers will continued to be sacrificed”.
By AbdulSalam Muhammad
Source: Radio Biafra.
The Federal Government has resorted to recruiting forest guards to assist the Joint Task Force in combating Boko Haram insurgents in the northern part of the country.
Most of the insurgents are believed to be using routes cutting through forests in states like Borno, Yobe, Taraba and Adamawa to smuggle arms into the country from Cameroon and other neighbouring countries.
The Conservator General of National Park Service, Mr. Haruna Abubakar, told the House of Representatives Committee on Environment on Monday that the guards would help the JTF to comb the forests for hideouts of insurgents.
Abubakar had appeared before the committee in Abuja to defend the 2014 budget of the agency.
The NPS had been classified as a para-military agency in January this year by the government.
According to Abubakar, the agency will rely on its knowledge of the country’s forest terrain to conduct sweeps with the military.
He informed the committee that the agency controlled seven national parks in the country, covering about 24,000- square kilometres of land.
Abubakar said, “The National Park Service has been playing a crucial role in intelligence gathering for the country’s military in the North-East and the forest bordering Chad and Cameroon.”
The committee, which is chaired by Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, stated that insurgents operated camps in forests like Sambisa, Mafa, Wulgo and Kirenowa, all in Borno State.
Sambisa forest camp which was said to have been first discovered during a military raid in 2013, covers an area of about 300-square kilometres.
The chairman of the committee expressed concern that besides the loss of human lives and property, Nigeria was losing revenue from tourism due to the activities of insurgents.
“We have to look inwards to find a way to protect our forests.
“It is regrettable that our forests have been turned into havens for insurgents,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Baptist Convention has appealed to Boko Haram sect to pursue the path of peace for Nigerians to live in harmony.
The sect destroyed Mainok village, about 50 kilometres to Maiduguri in Borno State and killed 39 people in its latest attack on Sunday.
During a press briefing organised by NBC on Monday in Ibadan, the President of the church in Nigeria, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, sympathised with the victims of the attack, adding that the church would maintain its stance against all forms of terrorism in the country.
Ayokunle called on the Federal Government to step up security in the northern part of the country.
President Jonathan Nigeria will soon be liberated •Post civil war reconciliation second to none —Gowon.
AGAINST rising insurgent activities in the North-East, President Goodluck Jonathan, on Sunday, assured that the country will be liberated from its present challenges, as he pointed out that other nations went through even worse situations in their history.
Speaking at an interdenominational service to round off the Centenary celebration of the country, at the National Christian Centre, Abuja, he asked Nigerians to show love, “even where it hurts most,” adding that he was confident that “Nigeria has a bright future that the children will be proud of.”
The president added that “the road has been rough, the challenges real, but with God on our side, the future is sure and Nigeria will surely be liberated by God’s grace.
“Few days ago, all our leaders gathered and our nation honoured them for their labour of love. I see a new Nigeria filled with love. I see a new Nigeria with determination.
“I appeal to all of us to show love to one another more than ever before, regardless of tribe, religion or race. Let us show love, even when it hurts most.
“We have our challenges but definitely, we have more opportunities in this country than challenges. Our challenges are very ephemeral. Other countries have passed through even more difficult challenges.”
Jonathan defended the celebration of the centenary, saying if other countries were celebrating less important issues, such as 200 years of ending wars by Sweden, Nigeria had every reason to celebrate and thank God for His mercies upon the country.
In his message on the occasion, the retired Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, His Eminence, Sunday Ola Makinde, implored the Federal Government to expose the sources of funds of the Boko Haram insurgents.
“Without enemies within, enemies without cannot strike. Wherever they are, God will expose them, wherever they are, God will wage war against those waging war against Nigeria,” he said.
Also speaking, former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, noted that the reconciliation achieved after the Nigeria Civil War was second to none.
He thanked all those who laid down their lives to keep Nigeria one, which made it possible for the country to celebrate its centenary.
Notable personalities at the event were the wife of the president, Patience; Chief Ernest Shonekan, Chief Tony Anenih, Honourable Emeka Ihedioha, Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State, service chiefs, among others.
Source: Radio Biafra.
The Nigerian Army Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has confirmed the loss of some soldiers in connection with the Boko Haram attack on Abulum, Maiduguri, at the weekend.
In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Major General Chris Olukolade, DHQ said the troops were pursuing the militants who were responsible for the attack in Buni Yadi when they engaged in a fierce encounter with the terrorists around Mainok and other locations between Apa and Abulum in Borno State.
It said that the death of the soldiers was as a result of the air and land attack launched on the members of the sect, and that some terrorists were also killed in the incident.
“The air operations to clear terrorists bases sited in Daggu and Yazza areas of Borno State during the weekend have registered the expected results in the ongoing campaign against terror,” Olukolade said. “The mopping up operation by ground forces after air assault has confirmed the death of several terrorists located in the bases. Civilians had earlier been evacuated from the vicinity of the identified terrorist enclaves in line with operation orders before the air and land assaults. Extensive cordon and search of the entire locality is ongoing with a view to apprehending the wounded and other members of the terrorists group who might still be trying to flee.”
The spokesman also stated that the suspects believed to have been responsible for detonating a bomb in the Bintu Sugar Ngamari area of Maiduguri on Saturday in which many citizens were killed have been arrested and are helping in the investigation.
“Patrols are continuing on land and air in the entire mission area in North East towards apprehending or eliminating the rampaging terrorists in the area,” the statement said.
It also noted that the campaign coordination cell has dismissed as untrue reports that civilians were mistakenly killed in the air operations in some parts of the mission area, as the claim could not be confirmed after the mopping up aspect of the operation.
“The reports are believed to be part of the design by those bent on discrediting the counter terrorists mission,” it concluded, adding that DHQ has reaffirmed its directive that necessary care should continue to always be taken to ensure safety of innocent Nigerians in the operational areas notwithstanding the fierceness of the encounters.
(From Biafra Galaxy)
“Gunmen from Islamist sect Boko Haram killed 51 people in an attack on a town in northeast Nigeria…in a region where President Goodluck Jonathan’s troops are struggling to contain its insurgency. Dozens of Boko Haram fighters speeding along in trucks painted in military colours and armed with automatic weapons and explosives stormed Konduga local government area in Borno state at around 4 p.m. on…burning houses and shooting fleeing villagers…The insurgents also took 20 young girls from a local college hostage…The military confirmed the attack took place but said it was still assessing the number of casualties.”
The above was the lead paragraph in a Reuters’s story published a couple of days ago. The story’s screaming headline was: “Nigeria’s Boko Haram kill 51 in northeast attack.” Before this headline, there had been many such screaming headlines published by different media: “Gunmen kill 22 in Nigeria church attack: Witnesses”; “Attacks by extremists kill about 75 Nigerians”; “Nigerian gunmen attack toll reaches 85”; “Nigerian Muslim Cleric Opposed to Boko Haram Shot Dead.” And we can go on and on quoting screaming headlines that have assailed our ears since gunmen first laid siege to northern Nigeria. Does anybody even pay any attention to these headlines anymore? Anybody…the Federal government, the military, and the rest of us not directly affected by the carnage…do we pay any attention to these headlines anymore? Could it be that we don’t pay attention to these headlines because they have apparently screamed themselves hoarse? Or have we all just become inured to (and inoculated against) their potency?
But probably the one headline that should have bothered Nigerians the most was this from ThisDay newspaper: “Five Aircraft Razed as Boko Haram Attacks Maiduguri.” The paper reported on 03 December 2013 that the president was so perturbed by the brazen and gory nature of the attack that he called an emergency meeting of the Security Council. Erstwhile Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Azubike Ihejirika and Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Alex Badeh, (now CDS) along with National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) were in attendance. Soon after that meeting, the Air Force launched a few air sorties in the area, dropping a few bombs on what it thought were the enemies. Many of the bombs were so erratic they missed their targets by kilometers. Some hit “friendly forces” while others landed in open fields. The attacking insurgents disappeared into thin air almost effortlessly and our military retreated back to their barracks claiming what later amounted to nothing but Pyrrhic victory – the fact that it successfully drove the attackers away.
Drove the attackers away? That was part of the bragging statements issued by the Army as it went on a shameless victory lap around the mangled corpses of Nigerian Soldiers and the bloods of civilians, including those of innocent women and children, now mostly Muslims. It used to be that these attackers targeted Christians and their churches; and because of that, we attributed their attacks to part of Boko Haram’s quest to Islamize the whole of Nigeria. For a considerable length of time now, these attacks have been launched against Nigerians irrespective of religion, sect, age, ethnicity and gender. Commonsense should, by now, inform the collective wisdom of our highest military echelon to consider the possibility that these are probably no longer the original Boko Haram adherents we were fighting.
Our military “drove the attackers away”, turned around and came back home? And we are satisfied with that? What is wrong in following the attackers to whatever hole from where they came – Cameroon, Chad, or Niger – and finishing them off there? What is wrong in following the attackers, capturing those we can capture and bringing them back to our bases for interrogation? Believe me, if we subject these Prisoners of Wars (POWs) to internationally sanctioned interrogation techniques – those authorized by relevant Geneva Conventions articles and guaranteed to preserve the rights and dignity of the POWs – we will obtain actionable intelligence from them that would aid in our execution of this war. Instead, we allowed the attackers to retreat and re-group so they can fight us another day. We tucked our tails between our legs, scampered back to our bases and declared victory. And a few weeks later, the commander whose Air Force Base was so ravaged – Alex Badeh; the one whose subordinate personnel’s wives were carted away by the enemies in that bold attack, was rewarded with promotion to Chief of Defense Staff.
None of the senators who screened Badeh for the appointment had the good conscience to ask him where he was when the attack on the base occurred; what policies he had in place, as then Chief of Air Staff, to forestall the breach of his bases, and what policies he had since put in place to prevent another such attack. If the senators (led by David Mark, himself a former senior military officer) had had the gumption to ask the tough questions, they would have learned, for instance, that the Nigerian military is languishing in archaic war fighting equipment and doctrine. They would have learned that our Air Force did not have something as simple as up-to-date maps of our own country – maps which would have come in handy when trying to locate the enemy’s possible fortresses; maps showing all of our man-made and natural terrains that the enemies and our forces could use for cover, concealment and mobility. The senators would have found out that our Air Force had very limited serviceable and air-worthy fighter aircraft. They would have learned that because of the paucity of aircraft, only very few of our fighter pilots are well-trained in their jobs. And those who have the training may not even retain much of these perishable flying-and-fighting skills due to lack of regular sustainment training. Our senators would have learned that our Army still carries around moribund and often malfunctioning personal and crew-served weapons; that they move around in dilapidated Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs); that our Soldiers regularly run out of ammunition, petrol, food and other essential items in the middle of firefights. Our senators would have found out to their utter chagrins the nauseating fact that we are sometimes late in paying our Soldiers’ combat and deployment allowances; and that when they die in combat, we take forever in paying their gratuities to their families, thereby keeping morale at the lowest ebb.
Our senators might also have learned that our senior military officers do not understand the difference between conventional war (country vs. country) and Counter-Insurgencies (COIN) (country vs. insurgency) war. And what they do not know, they could not teach to their subordinates or supervise. The senators would have learned that we have probably been fighting an armed insurrection or an armed unconventional invasion (assuming these attackers are from neighboring Cameroon, Chad, or Niger) with the tools needed to fight a conventional war. Had our senators done their due diligence, they would have learned that our military and our intelligence agencies, especially the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), lack the technical knowhow to emplace and employ ground/aerial, static/mobile, human/electronic intelligence collection capabilities that would greatly complement the efforts of our gallant Soldiers. (For example, we acquired for surveillance a couple of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), otherwise known as Drones. But with what and whom are we coordinating the images we receive from these Drones?) Gallantry without effective fighting weaponry is nothing but suicide. Only when our Soldiers encounter unarmed civilians do their egos swell to match their menacing muscles. When faced with well-motivated hooded insurgents wielding Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) launchers and vehicle-mounted 60mm machine guns, our soldiers scamper for cover. Had the senators asked the right questions, they would have known that without motivating and empowering our Soldiers with modern, up-to-date equipment, quality training, and rewarding pay, it is as if we have consistently tied their fighting hands behind their backs and sent them to battle to die.
This low-level war with insurgents has exposed the systemic rot in our military and we should wake up to our responsibilities. Unless we are deluding ourselves, Nigeria may not survive a full-blown invasion from one of its neighboring countries. At the minimum, we would suffer great losses in the hands of a determined foe. Ordinary bands of rag-tag fighters probe and infiltrate our borders at will (daytime, nighttime and evenings); they conduct successful attacks and then successfully retreat with minimal casualties. A few days later, they repeat the attacks with slight changes to their modus operandi, throwing our soldiers into confusion. Haba! These are textbook basic offensive tactics that have continued to make mincemeat of our so-called dreaded military. And any Nigerian Soldier worth his or her salt should be embarrassed to no end by this.
If we eschew politics, Goodluck Jonathan has no blame in this whatsoever. Because he was dissatisfied with their performances (and rightfully so) he sacked Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim and Lt. Gen. Azubike Ihejirika. To make it a clean sweep, he also sacked the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba. While Badeh replaced Ibrahim, Ihejirika, and Ezeoba were replaced by Maj. Gen. Kenneth Minimah and Rear Adm. Jibrin Usman respectively. Air Vice Marshall Adesola Amosu slid into Badeh’s old seat as the Air Force’s Chief of Staff.
That is all one could expect of a civilian Commander-in-Chief – reinvigorating the military at the top with fresh hands in the expectation that the new appointees will inject the Force with a new sense of purpose, direction and motivation. Jonathan should not be expected to understand the minutiae of military Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs). In fact, he is probably as angry and as surprised as the rest of us that we have not beaten this insurgency scourge. Jonathan can only understand and approve what the military brasses put before him. And anyone with a scintilla of expertise in advanced military operations, not just rudimentary knowledge of how the military conducts successful operations, should know that the succession of military brasses have not served Jonathan well. They appear to me to have become either too obtuse and/or too impervious to designing radical changes to their TTPs.
So, as a matter of urgency, Chief of Defense Staff, Alex Badeh should begin to earn his rank and salary by immediately setting up for himself a Command Post (CP) in Maiduguri and temporarily move his office there. If anything, this would signal to all his subordinate commanders that he means business and it is no longer business as usual. This is war and it should be treated as such. It would also boost the junior Soldiers’ morale to knowing their overall boss is on the battlefield with them, not ensconced in Abuja drinking pepper soup. Badeh will now be able to see up-close what his Soldiers are facing and can effectively assess what they need in order to win the war. When he orders them to face death, he would be doing so with moral authority, not just rank authority. Badeh will see firsthand how a typical fellow Nigerian in Konduga lives his or her daily life and can then report same to Jonathan. Badeh will be able to go to the National Assembly (NASS) and to Jonathan to make a good argument why Nigeria needs to recruit more Soldiers. He would be able to convince the NASS to increase the defense budget, allowing for training in modern warfare, equipment, remunerations and emoluments for its personnel.
Finally, Jonathan will then be able to inform (not seek permission from) the leaders of Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic; the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN), that henceforth, Nigeria would deal decisively with anybody or group of persons that violates its territorial integrity. Jonathan will mandate Badeh and his entire military leadership to employ the Powell Doctrine of maximum force each time any part of Nigeria is attacked. And, of course, with credible and actionable intelligence, superior equipment and a motivated military, Nigeria will meet its threat of lethal force with precision and deadly overwhelming delivery. This will serve as an effective deterrence to would be aggressors and fomenters or anarchy. This practice of watching whole families slaughtered in cold blood; of survivors gnashing their teeth, wailing and throwing themselves on the ground; and of our military and politicians throwing up their hands in total helplessness will then come to an end. And we would have our country back.
Abiodun Ladepo Los Angeles, California, USA Oluyole2@yahoo.com.
Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.
THE ongoing reorganisation in the Federal Government may see a retired General being appointed as the Chief of Staff to the president, it was learnt on Friday.
This came as certain forces around the president are also said to be advising President Goodluck Jonathan to scrap the office. They are said to be suggesting that the president’s Principal Secretary combine his duties with those of the Chief of Staff.
The position of these ‘advisers’, the source said, was informed by what was described as the perceived excesses of the last holder of that office.
A presidency source, however, told Saturday Tribune that two retired senior army officers – a Major-General and a Brigadier-General, both from the South-West – have been contacted to sound them out on their disposition to possible appointment to the position if the president eventually decides to do so.
One of the two Generals is from Oyo State while the other hails from Lagos State, Saturday Tribune learnt.
The decision to go for a retired General for the post, the source said, is one of the options being considered by the president who is under intense pressure from the South-West and the South-South to ‘give them’ the position.
It was gathered that the initial demand for the post by the North was defeated by the argument of the South that the North already had more than its fair share in the Federal Government line-up.
The North presently parades the Vice-President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, National Security Adviser, the Chief of Defence Staff, among others.
The argument of the South-South in demanding for the position, it was gathered, is that the last occupier of the post hailed from the zone and as such, the post should remain there.
Apart from the cries of marginalisation in the Federal Government by the South-West, it was learnt that a key figure in the civil society organisations (names withheld) was with the president on Monday where discussions touched on the appointment of the president’s chief of staff and the need to pacify the South-West with the post.
The final decision on the appointment, the source said, is that of the president who is said to be weighing options and balancing the scales on the allocation of portfolios to the newly appointed ministers.
Source: Radio Biafra.NORTH