Meet Nigeria’s New Military Chiefs and their main Challenges
After six weeks in office, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has finally nominated new service chiefs who assume acting roles pending confirmation by the Nigerian National Assembly. The new appointments were widely expected as President Buhari has continuously criticised the military’s inability to defeat the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency.
Perhpas more surprising is the fact that both the new Chief of Army Staff, Major General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, and the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (Rtd), are from Borno State, which is at the heart of the Boko Haram conflict. There is also dissatisfaction and growing accusations of regional favouritism as the majority of the new chiefs hail from Nigeria’s northern regions.
Read the profiles of the new chiefs below:
Three things the new Nigerian military chiefs must tackle
The new service chiefs in Nigeria will have a daunting task ahead of them as they work to tackle multiple high pressure issues at the same time. Here are the three most important:
Boko Haram Insurgency
Between 2009 and 2015, the Boko Haram insurgency has claimed more than 13,000 lives and left thousands of people homeless. Their attacks are now an almost daily routine in northern Nigeria. During former President Goodluck Jonathan’s last days in office the military recaptured towns occupied by Boko Haram. Since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office the frequency of attacks by the terrorist group has increased. The service chiefs will need to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to deal with the Boko Haram threat which involves improved intelligence gathering, regional coordination, and beefing up military hardware and logistics.
Corruption has plagued the Nigerian military since its involvement in politics during Nigeria’s early days. From foot soldiers who ask for bribes at checkpoints to Generals who misappropriate large sums of the military budget for their own personal use, there is a rot in the system that has reduced moral and entrenched inefficiencies and indiscipline that has severely hampered Nigerian military force readiness. The service chiefs must clean out the decades old rot in the military and restore its respectability.
Civilian – military relationships
Amnesty international recently cited the Nigerian military for gross abuses of civilians and multiple human rights violations in its fight against Boko Haram. But even in non-combat zones, Nigerian military officers are often abusive to civilian populations. This is a legacy of the military’s unchecked rule of Nigeria’s population for over three decades. Today military officers can beat up civilians, seize and damage property, violate traffic laws and even kill people in metropolitan areas while face very little consequence. The service chiefs must put an end to this behaviour and call service members to account. In a democracy, military service is an honour and service to the citizens.
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