The Nigerian Army is filled “with corrupt generals and unable to protect the country from the mutating violence,” The Economist newspaper reported.
“Nigeria’s army is mighty on paper,” the London magazine added.
“But many of its soldiers are ‘ghosts’ who exist only on the payroll, and much of its equipment is stolen and sold to insurgents.”
The Economist in an extensive report on Thursday said Nigeria had not been able to address its insecurity because military chiefs plundered much of the country’s combat resources and the rest had stretched thin with little capacity to forestall the crisis.
“Little more than six decades ago, as Nigeria was nearing independence, even those who were soon to govern Africa’s largest country had their doubts about whether it would hold together.
“British colonists had drawn a border around land that was home to more than 250 ethnic groups. Obafemi Awolowo, a politician of that era, evoked Metternich, fretting that Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression.
“The early years of independence seemed to prove him right. Coup followed coup. Ethnic pogroms helped spark a civil war that cost 1m lives, as the south-eastern region calling itself Biafra tried to break away and was ruthlessly crushed. Military rule was the norm until 1999.
“Despite this inauspicious start, Nigeria is now a powerhouse. Home to one in six sub-Saharan Africans, it is the continent’s most boisterous democracy. Its economy, the largest, generates a quarter of Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“The army is also stretched thin, having been deployed to all of Nigeria’s state,” the paper said in its upcoming October 23 issue that was published on its website today.
The paper also said Nigeria police has become demoralised due to poor training and endemic corruption.
“The police are understaffed, demoralised and poorly trained. Many supplement their low pay by robbing the public they have sworn to protect,” it said.
Nigerian soldiers, especially those deployed in Operation Lafiya Dole in the North-East, have always complained about poor welfare.
Some claimed they had not been given fragmental jackets (bullet-resistant vests) since they got drafted into the war theatre.
Some soldiers, who spoke to SaharaReporters in May, 2021 also lamented that the army owed them in uniform and boot allowances and also made deductions from their salary in the name of a housing scheme.
They added that they had not been eating and feeding well since their deployment to Borno.
“There was no housing scheme in the pipeline that the new Chief of Army Staff met when he assumed office. No soldier was consulted, and questionnaires were not shared to sensitise or sample the opinion of troops.
“Our salary has not been increased; we still buy uniforms and boots for ourselves; we live in dilapidated buildings. We’ve not been paid a uniform allowance and boot allowance. You are deployed to a company, the company pays the sum of N150,000, but the Commanding Officer will pay each soldier N30,000,” a soldier had said.