As the Nigerian military continues its onslaught to rid the North-east of Boko Haram insurgents, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, has disclosed that the timing of the arrival of new military hardware into the country played a major role in the request by the security agencies for a shift in the polls.
He also assured Nigerians that although the war against terrorism has been tough and challenging, the military would not relent in its goal to restore peace and stability in the North-east and other troubled spots within the country, adding that in the push to reclaim lost territories, the troops had freed many kidnapped civilians in the process.
Badeh made his remarks on Wednesday in Lagos at the handover ceremony of pharmaceutical products and food items worth N82 million.
The drugs and items were donated by the Association of Pharmaceutical Importers of Nigeria (AIPN) led by its President, Mr. Nnamdi Obi, to the Armed Forces to boost the morale of the military in the ongoing onslaught against terrorism.
In his speech, he said although the challenges were many, the troops have been able to rout the terrorists and reclaimed large areas of territories hitherto occupied by the sect.
He said: “This is in addition to inflicting heavy human and material losses on them and freeing many kidnapped innocent civilians in the process.
“These successes have come largely from the increased support of the federal government which has enabled the Armed Forces re-arm and re-equip appropriately to confront the challenges posed by the insurgents.
“As part of our overall strategy for tackling insecurity in the country, we have repeatedly called for synergy with the civil populace, especially for support and vigilance in reporting the activities of suspicious elements and the movement of insurgents.
“This is borne out of our strong conviction that the war against insurgency is not a war for the armed forces alone. As I have always said, when the military is at war, it is not the military alone that is at war, rather it is the entire nation.
“Accordingly, all instruments of national power, ranging from the diplomatic, informational, military and economic are employed to ensure that threats to national security are contained and defeated.”
On why the security agencies sought a shift in the election date, he said it was to enable the military take delivery of military hardware, which it had placed orders several months ago, adding that the orders were placed long before Boko Haram started seizing territories.
He said once the hardware was delivered, the military had no choice than to ask for more time to crush the sect.
He said: “I do not want to bring politics into this. Whoever wants to bring politics into what we are doing, it’s left for them. They should realise that our weapons and machines are not picked up from the shelf; if it were the case, we would have gotten them a long time ago.
“When you make orders, it takes time to produce and it takes time also to train soldiers to use them. So we did not place the orders today.
“We had placed orders several months ago and when they started coming we asked for more time to combat the insurgents before the elections and I can guarantee you that there was no politics in the demand for shift in date; it was requested because we were receiving the equipment.”
Badeh also condemned the unsavoury comments about the military often made by those he termed unpatriotic elements, adding that the military is not the enemy.
He said: “While many Nigerians and indeed corporate entities like yours have identified with the military and continue to support us, a few but vocal minority have continued to denigrate the military and cast aspersions on our efforts to defeat and successfully execute the ongoing fight against terrorists.
“Some go to the extent of collaborating with foreign enemies and some international media to publish falsehood about the ongoing operations, all in a bid to disparage the country and military.
“Let me remind such unpatriotic Nigerians that this is the only country we have, and the Armed Forces is the only military we have. Therefore, the Nigerian military must not be seen as the enemy.”
Badeh however said despite such unpatriotic elements, the Armed Forces would not be deterred as they continue their onslaught to rid the nation of terrorism.
Earlier, the Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr. Paul Orhii, commended the Armed Forces, adding that they were giving their best in defending the nation’s territorial integrity.
On a similar note, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has promised not to relent until every part of the country is finally rid of insurgency.
At a press conference in Abuja, DHQ spokesman, Major-General Chris Olukolade, said: “We are conscious that the fight is not over and the Nigerian military will therefore not relent. Nothing will be taken for granted. All Nigerians are equally enjoined to maintain this posture.”
He also urged Nigerians to “at all-times remain vigilant and conscious of our environment and be on the lookout for unrepentant terrorists, their collaborators or sympathisers who will stop at nothing in their resolve to destroy our country and civilisation”.
While commending Nigerians across every stratum for the recent show of solidarity with the military including staging rallies in its support, Olukolade however asked the media to be especially weary of cynics and saboteurs who are generally unhappy that the Nigerian military has gained the upper hand in the war against terrorism.
“However, while these support and show of love are being savoured, the attitude and activities of segments of the society who are still hell-bent on undermining the morale of our fighting force by deliberately playing down the operational successes so far achieved remains very unfortunate indeed.
“In a bid to spitefully drown the efforts of our troops, this group of people have been mischievously and exaggeratingly reporting the supportive roles of foreign allies to the detriment of our operational success in the fight against terror.
“They go to every extent to ridicule, taunt or project every falsehood, purely to score some points in the clandestine sympathy for the terrorists. This unpatriotic posture is directly or indirectly undermining the esteemed status of Nigeria in the comity of nations,” he said.
According to him, “The current turn of the tide against the terrorists is an initiative conceived and is being driven by the Nigerian military but enjoying the backing of the reinvigorated Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), which has troops from Niger, Chad and Cameroun.
“The continuous aerial bombardment of identified terrorists’ cells and hideouts by the Nigerian Air Force and subsequent ground offensive by the Nigerian troops pursuing the dislodged terrorists is proving worthwhile.
“Our partners are entrusted with employing the instrumentality of the Multinational Joint Task Force to contain any terrorist who heads towards our borders with neighbouring countries and preventing the formation of any new safe haven elsewhere.”
While recognising the contributions of partners in the MJTF in the operations, Olukolade explained that their roles had realistically been much limited to their respective border areas by preventing Boko Haram elements from entering their countries while fleeing from Nigeria and also preventing the terrorists from setting up safe havens in those neighbouring countries.
“The forces have been working very hard in consonance with the terms and spirit of the memorandum of understanding that preceded this operation. They are effectively checkmating trans-border activities of the terrorists.
“There have been instances where these provisions for the operation of the MNJTF have afforded our partners the latitude required to pursue or beat back a retreating band of terrorists into Nigerian territory, as was the case in Gamboru and other locations not far from the border,” he clarified.
“Unfortunately, some interest groups who seek to misinterpret this fruitful collaboration, are seeking to drive a wedge between the Nigerian military and her supporting military formations or contingent by deliberately trying to denigrate and ridicule the effort of the Nigerian forces.
“If other militaries that have just joined the war against the terrorists could be described in some warped reports as ‘battle-hardened’, how would any sensible commentator or reporter describe the gallant Nigerian forces that have been battling these mercenary-ridden terrorists for over five years now say?” he queried.
Despite the determination of some foreign media and their local collaborators to bring the Nigerian military to disrepute, Olukolade maintained that “the Nigerian military will not be distracted or detract from the current momentum which is geared towards stamping out terrorism not only in Nigeria but in the entire sub-region”.
He stressed that whilst DHQ values and appreciates the ongoing collaborative effort of the troop-contributing nations of the MNJTF, “there has been no compromise of any aspect of Nigeria’s sovereignty or soil to any foreign force.
“This counter-terrorist operation is comprehensively driven by Nigerian forces. Other members of the MNJTF have so far successfully denied the common enemy freedom of trans-border operations and this is in consonance with the idea of the multinational coalition initiated as far back as 1998”.
Source: This Day