Nigeria News

Nigeria Military develops cold feet over planned Mali mission

Nigeria MilitaryThere are strong indications that the military high command in Nigeria is concerned about the decision of the Federal Government to intervene militarily in the crisis in Mali.

Saturday Agency investigations showed that some generals in the Nigerian Army are of the view that the military exercise should be dropped as the prevailing situation does not seem to favour an easy routing of the terrorists in Northern Mali.

Some top military figures are said to be of the view that the exercise is billed to fail even before its commencement unless urgent steps are taken.

The generals, it was learnt, were of the view that a holistic preparation was required to prevent Nigerian soldiers from being killed by terrorists who have taken over the Northern part of Mali.

The concern of the generals and top military personnel, especially of the Nigerian Army, was necessitated by the state of equipment and arms and ammunition required to prosecute the military action against the heavily armed Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists in Mali.

Serious concerns were expressed about the state of preparedness of the militants in Mali and the calibre of weapons at their disposal.

The Malian militants are said to have in their possession very high calibre weapons, which has necessitated the need for Nigeria and other participating West African countries to move for the procurement of more arms and ammunition.

It was found that the militants, a good number of who joined other terrorist networks in the fight against the Muammar Gaddafi regime in Libya, looted the Libyan armoury and are  considered formidable foes.

Apart from the concerns about the large cache of arms and ammunition in the custody of the militants from Libya and other countries in the Arabian Peninsula, the Nigerian Army is considering the issue of the difficult topography of Mali.

While the militants are inhabitants of the troubled area and are masters of the terrain, soldiers, especially from Nigeria, are being drawn into a battlein the desert, and in a land mass bigger than the size of Nigeria.

It was learnt that Nigerian troops, who are expected to feature in the confrontation with the Malian militants, are faced with a language disadvantage as many of them do not speak French, which is Mali’s national language.

Investigations showed that the military authorities are adopting measures to overcome the language barrier by organising a crash programme for the learning of French in Abuja.

A language expert was brought into the country to teach the soldiers French as a solution to the language challenge.

Generals and other senior officers are being made to undergo the three-day weekly crash programme in French.

Those selected for the language course are being taught French on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

However, a source close to the Presidency stated that the closeness of the Malian militants to international terror networks and the availability of high calibre weapons in their custody could not be considered as a deterrent to the participation of Nigeria in the regional force.

The Presidency had argued that the United States had offered to provide logistics, which could be interpreted to cover a wide range of areas.

The Economic Community of West African States has agreed to send 3,300 troops to Mali to wrest the Northern part of the country from the control of Islamic terrorists.  Most of the troops are expected to come from Nigeria, Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana.

The chairman of ECOWAS and President of Ivory Coast, Mr. Alassane Ouatarra, stated after the ECOWAS summit in Abuja that 3,300 soldiers were expected to be in Mali for a year.

Investigations, however, showed that Ghana would not contribute to the ECOWAS force in Mali for some unclear reasons.

The Minister of State for Defence, Mrs. Olusola Obada, said while playing host to a representative of the Prime Minister of Britain, Mr. Stephen O’Brien, in Abuja early this month, that Nigeria would contribute 600 out of the 3,300 troops expected in Mali.

In attendance at the meeting were top military personalities in the country, including the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika; the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh and others.

Obada has hosted a number of Western diplomats, including those from the US, who have offered to assist, Nigeria in the bid to free Northern Mali from the Islamists.

Further investigations showed that some top generals in the Army are sceptical about the Mali mission because of the impression in the service that the Nigerian Army is already overstretched.

The emergent security situation in the country is believed to have had a serious effect on the operational capacity of the Army.

Thousands of Nigerian soldiers are involved in the various task forces established to ensure maintenance of internal security.

The reasoning is that an army which has assumed a chunk of the traditional responsibilities of the police shouldn’t be further encumbered with issues of security challenges in foreign countries.

Operatives of the Nigerian Army are in the forefront of the fight against terrorism under the auspices of the Joint Task Force in the North-East geopolitical zone, the Special Task Force in the restive Plateau State, the JTF in the Niger Delta and in several other states where they are fighting violent crimes like armed robbery, kidnapping and others.

Another factor being considered is the reasoning that Mali is surrounded by several weak countries which might not be able to stop the rebels from entering their territories if they are pursued from their enclaves.

A section of the military is also of the view that the country does not have the economic muscle that can withstand the heavy financial demands of an operation like that of the Economic Monitoring Group in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

But the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Bola Koleosho, said that there was no disenchantment in the Army about the decision to go to Mali.

He described the lack of enthusiasm among top ranking officers of the service as hearsay.

He said troops could only be deployed by the President through an Act of Parliament to any foreign country.

He stressed that the issue of Mali, which involved the United Nations and other foreign countries, did not start now.

Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC and CEO of Portia Web Solutions. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websits. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.

Leave a Reply