“All the armoured vehicles and T72 tanks brought by former President Goodluck Jonathan (which this gov’t refused to sustain) have broken down and in a state of disrepair,” aggrieved commanders of the Nigerian Army have reportedly said.
The officers, according to Premium Times, said this after Chief of Army Staff Turkur Buratai circulated a 180-word memo threatening to court-martial commanders who flee from Boko Haram terrorists.
The July 27 memo came on the heels of sustained deadly terror attacks on Nigerians soldiers. At least 45 soldiers and commanders have been killed, and 50 critically wounded in confrontation with Boko Haram in the last two weeks.
Troops are reportedly complaining of being owed, being underfed and under-armed, the same things that happened under President Jonathan.
They said Buratai’s and President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to declare Boko Haram “defeated” is affecting the way the soldiers view the terrorist group. The commanders cannot be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media.
“He (Buratai) is supposed to provide strategic intelligence to the troops,” a commander reportedly said. “But he had severally informed them and the world that Boko Haram is completely defeated.”
“So, it is not only the problem about lack of food or equipment to fight Boko Haram or even the small allowances but everyone is relaxed that Boko Haram had been defeated,” he said.
Commanders also said they now beg foreign armies to help fight Boko Haram on Nigerian soil.
“Imagine Cameroonian soldiers had to come 60 kilometres into Nigeria to support us in Sambisa,” another unnamed commander was quoted to have said.
“We keep begging them to support us because they have the equipment that we don’t have.
“Same thing is being done with Chad at the Lake Chad region, it is really sad,” he said.
The complaints are not new.
In December 2016, some soldiers almost lynched Victor Ezeugwu, the commander of Nigerian Army 7 Division headquartered at Maimalari cantonment, after he left them on the battlefront for two days without food.
Nigerian soldiers faced similar ordeals under former President Goodluck Jonathan. Then military chief Alex Badeh reportedly threatened to kill troops who fled enemy fire. Soldiers had complained of being under-equipped, underpaid and underfed.
President Buhari rode to power on “change” mantra. Critics now ask to know the difference between Jonathan’s army and Buhari’s.