Restoring Sanity in Our Armed Forces By Joe Onwukeme
A tsunami of disaster has swept through the rank and file of the Nigerian army and in one fell swoop, army of officers who were involved in one crime or the other, ranging from arms procurement scandal, financial misappropriation, and electoral malpractices in the past were relieved of their duties and retired unceremoniously.
This is the first time in the history of our democracy that we are having no fewer than 60 army officers being purged out from the service.
Though the news didn’t come as a surprise to many considering the fact that our gallant officers, like vultures stripping the flesh of a dying man, threw the ethics of their profession to the wind and perfected an undemocratic impunity at the behest of politicians of the old corrupt political order.
The probes, panel of enquiries and investigations set up by the government and our anti-graft agencies have been unearthing the political pot of corruption they buried during the last regime of asphyxiating corruption and are being purged out of the institution. Though it’s been lauded as a right step in restoring the confidence and professionalism of our armed forces, which the institution is reputed for in past years, one pertinent question we should be asking is: what is the government doing to avoid a repeated occurrence in future? Those officers may have lost their jobs for total disregard for democratic norms and unprofessional conduct in the discharge of their duties but we shouldn’t be blind to the fact they never acted in isolation, they were strictly acting on orders, which was near impossible to reject at that time.
The Ekitigate leaked taped, which a certain Brigadier General was caught on tape giving out instructions in a commanding tone to his co-perpetrators how the rigging of the governorship election in the state in favour of PDP would be perfected on the orders of the presidency is a case study. How many Brigadier Generals in his position back then would have rejected such a directive considering the permissive nature of the government?
It does not just end in purging the system of bad eggs because the institution is designed in such a way that it can easily be influenced by the pettiness in the political pot. It goes beyond probing and finding some officers guilty and relieving them of their duties.
President Buhari might have restored sanity in the ones revered institution by this act but it doesn’t guarantee a repeated occurrence in the future. What we have in the person of president Buhari is a strong-willed man, but we don’t need a strong man to get things right, what we need are strong institutions, only strong institutions will reduce, if not eradicate partisan politics and government’s interferences within the rank and file of our security agencies. Until we promulgate and enforce laws that will make our security agencies to be independent of the executive as practiced in saner climes, I don’t see an institution that waits to get orders from the presidency before carrying out its primary duties from being free of what those dismissed army officers were found guilty of.
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