Nigerian Soldier’s Wives Cowardly Intervention By Nasiru Suwaid
“When state security services (SSS) wanted to recruit new hands during Obasanjo administration. I went to him, spoke to him and he said; ‘bring a list of your people’ and I took the list to him, the people went for interview. Luckily out of the 15 people, only two did not pass. [Also] During Obasanjo’s government, they were recruiting people in the immigration service, some Obasanjo people told me to meet with the immigration officials. Some of my people were recruited.”
-Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, Militant leader of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force in an interview with National Mirror on Sunday.
To be candidly honest, the title of this week’s analytical piece was inspired from the statement of Major General Chris Olukolade, the Director of Defence Information, when he was making a response to the news report about soldier’s wives resort to unexplainable self help, which was what their sit-in demonstration at the gate of Giwa Barracks, Maiduguri is. Where they had stopped vehicular traffic in and out of the military cantonment, in a vain effort to stop the movement of their spouses, who have been deployed to the atrocious theatre of war of the Southern Borno, most specifically, the already fallen Gwoza mountain range area. The grouse of the soldier’s family, inclusive of wives and children, was that their spouses are being taken to the theatre of war with one hand tied, which is what the combat engagement with obsolete weaponry literally translate to and their demands is for the officers and men to be properly equipped before being sent to confront such a dangerous foe.
It is instructive to note, the Nigerian Armed Forces had been taking heavy casualties from their engagement with the highly devious insurgents, thus their protest and insistence in stopping the deployment of the troops to the warfront, without the provision of the necessary and essential tools for effective military engagement with such a cunning and nefarious adversary. The defence establishment spokesperson clearly regarded such a move and a demand of constraining deployment as purely a cowardly act, further explaining that there is no army in the world, which deploys its soldiers on the prompting and at the urgings of each individual personnel family member’s preference.
The fact that a leader of an illegal organization but most especially, a practical promoter of the highly treasonable act of dismemberment of the Nigerian nation had once and perhaps, he is still influencing recruitment and other policy matters in the security and armed services, did not seem a contradictory albeit harsh stance to be taken against the likely, if not probable widows of the Boko Haram national tragedy, because, if Asari-Dokubo was a barely tolerated irritant to the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, to the Goodluck Jonathan administration, he is no less an exclusive member of the kitchen cabinet.
However, what caught my attention with the robust response, was not only the misplacement of aggression but rather, it was the usage of the word; ‘Cowardly’ to hapless women and immediately, what gained traction in mind is whether ‘Chivalry’, within the established military tradition, has ever been used on women, in fact, the Encarta English Dictionary defined Chivalry as; ‘Qualities of an ideal Knight: the combination of qualities expected of the ideal medieval knight, especially courage, honor, loyalty and consideration for others, especially women’.
The same dictionary defined the term; Chivalrous Behavior as ‘considerate and courteous behavior, especially shown by a man towards women’, which is also a characteristic mark of an officer and gentleman in the armed forces of every nation of the world. But what am I saying, actually what I am inferring is that while ‘Chivalry’ is reserved for a gentleman soldier, when he has acted bravely and graciously, ‘Cowardice’ is also reserved for such officer or combatant, when he has acted ignominiously or shamefully, a woman is never called a coward or said to be acting cowardly, in English or military linguistic lexicon, no matter how she had acted.
It is pertinent to note, some words are simply gender specific, as they cannot be applied on both sexes, one of which is ‘Chivalry’, a female cannot be able to exhibit ‘Chivalrous Behavior’, because one of its principal characteristics is that it is a behavioral pattern exhibited towards women. Another word that could not be applied to a woman is ‘Cowardice’, because by human nature, it is not unexpected for a female to be scared or fearful in certain situations of danger, thus, were she to act upon that threat of the moment, she cannot be condemned with an ascription or tag of being called a coward, only a man is reserved such social stigma.
One of the enduring legacies of the Nigerian Television Authority is the epic comedy Samanja, which is a corruption of the military rank Sergeant-Major in Hausa and one of the cardinal traits of the drama series is the inter social relationships of regimental living in the barracks. On many episodes of the rested thriller, the principal character in the drama could be heard admonishing and calling his subordinates who had acted cowardly as women, thus confirming the fact that fear is a human emotion not expected of only the male species.
And this other thing:
I have just heard that the Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the Department of State Security has made a grave allegation of corrupt inducement amounting to fourteen million naira against ‘a certain political party’, which was promptly rejected. The question that immediately suffices is whether the officers involved, did not seek for the prosecution of such a criminal affront, rather, they would merely make a media pronouncement of it and let it go, then perhaps they are amongst the Dokubo-Asari recruits, who could not differentiate politics from the rule of law.
Suwaid writes in via email@example.com
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