Army officers fear restlessness among troops following recent losses suffered to Boko Haram

SENIOR Nigerian Army commanders are fearful of an imminent rebellion among rank and file soldiers over their inability to provide troops with the necessary weaponry and adequate welfare in the ongoing fight against Boko Haram that has resulted in heavy casualties.


Last week, Boko Haram attacked an army base in Metele in northern Borno State killing dozens of troops and carting away arms and ammunition. According to the Nigerian Army, 23 troops were killed in the attack but the soldiers of the 157 Task Force Battalion succeeded in repelling the attack.


However, four senior officers, including one major general, said that the soldiers, especially those at the war front, had been showing signs of agitation at developments. He added that apart from the lack of weapons, the military was losing the anti-insurgency war due to poor strategy and the lack of synergy among the service chiefs.


“I can tell you without mincing words that many of us, officers, are afraid because the soldiers can revolt anytime from now. You will recall that some soldiers of the 21 Brigade in Sambisa Forest last year went on the rampage, revolting against their superiors.


“Such rebellion only happens when the officers lose the trust of their men. The soldiers have been complaining about lack of weapons and welfare but their demands are being ignored and always remember that whenever there is an attack, if 40 soldiers are killed, only two officers will be affected because the soldiers are the ones at the battlefront.


“If they feel they are being led to their death, they will rather revolt and save themselves rather than die. As it is, we are fearful of what may happen and we don’t want a Bangladeshi Rifle Revolt in Nigeria like it happened in 2009 in Bangladesh where soldiers killed 57 officers,” one officer added.


He added that the chief of defence staff, General Abayomi Olonishakin, has no control over the service chiefs as when he summons meetings, they do not attend. According to the officer, the service chiefs have now become lords unto themselves and were not open to alternative views.


“The indiscipline has reached a level that the service chiefs now bypass the chief of defence staff and the defence minister and write letters directly to the president. These service chiefs even attended Mr President’s campaign launch recently. This is not the military I have spent 33 years serving, as you don’t break the chain of command.


“On several occasions during our security meetings, if you bring up an alternative view, you become an easy target for those in power. These service chiefs have stayed for too long and are now bereft of new ideas," he added.


He advised the military to be honest with the government as regards its needs rather than pretending that all was well. There are also problems with the fact that the US and other allies are not giving Nigeria intelligence information because of capacity and human rights issues.