Comms And A Handy Air Support” 2 Basic Things Buhari’s $1BN Could Have Provided To Prevent Metele -By Umar Sa’ad Hassan

Filed under: National Issues |

President Buhari’s decision to withdraw the sum of $1bn from the excess crude account to fight insecurity raised a lot of eyebrows. He was initially reported as saying the sum was specifically intended for the war against Boko haram before Vice-President Osinbajo adjusted the rhetoric to ‘fighting insecurity across the country’. Either way, government’s priority had always been the security situation in the north-east and not a few tongues wagged as to the President’s insincerity not only to Nigerians but himself. A supposedly ‘technically defeated’ and ‘degraded’ Boko Haram shouldn’t command that much attention. Word in most quarters was that President Buhari and the APC wanted to start preparing early for 2019 and also the Ekiti and Osun gubernatorial elections holding this year.

The massacre of 100 soldiers at the military base in Metele, Borno state by the Boko Haram sect all but confirms that that money did not go into equipping our troops. A survivor narrating the ordeal he and others went through said the officer at the observation post alerted others about an approaching entourage of Boko Haram fighters a whole hour before they got to the base. With the billion dollar kitty Buhari had, it is simply unimaginable that a military base in a war zone like the north-east would lack an active comms system to call for reinforcement or air support. It’s excruciating to think those men were left on their own to ward off at least 20 trucks of well-armed insurgents hell-bent on achieving their aim of attacking as many military bases as possible. It is interesting to note that Metele isn’t the first nor is it the second military base to be attacked this year so if our soldiers weren’t better prepared than they were then they were as best as they possibly could.


Umar Sa’ad Hassan

A UN report revealed the federal government paid a huge sum of money to secure the release of the schoolgirls kidnapped in Dapchi, Yobe state. Though the videos circulating online of the insurgents killing Nigerian soldiers have been said to be not those of the Metele massacre, one can see how the use of rocket grenade launchers helped weaken the resistance by our soldiers. The government did not bother equipping the military with the right arms to fight insurgents it had funded with ransom payments for kidnap victims said to be in double-digit millions of euros.

Our billion dollars well spent would have meant not a single soul lost in Metele. A functional communication system would have enabled the soldiers who had a full hour to prepare and who spent close to 40 minutes exchanging fire with the insurgents before they ran out of ammunition to call for air support. With fighter planes SUPPOSEDLY handy in times like these, one hour 40 minutes is enough time to fly and reclaim a distress zone. Nothing could be more shattering than learning some soldiers went to fetch the bodies of their dead colleagues and were ambushed in the process.No air support, no prior surveillance. These men were sent blind and practically helpless to be finished off by a better-equipped enemy. What manner of military, with full knowledge of a very obvious pattern of attacks by its enemies that had claimed the lives of several of its men, wouldn’t have taken extra measures to forestall or at the very least, repel future occurrences?.That President Buhari has refused to sack the service chiefs lends further credence to the fact that he fully understands he has not availed them with the resources to do that.

A lot of people questioned the propriety of buying 12 fighter planes to be built and delivered by the US in 2020 with the instant threat on ground. A Tucano plane which has been quoted by foreign military sources to be in the $8-$10M range is what the government says it bought for over $41m each. Add another $30M (tops) for transportation and training of personnel and you still will not come close to the $496m Buhari claims he paid for them.E-mails to the US mission asking questions as to costs are replied with a message directing all inquiries to the Nigerian government. Say President Buhari was magnanimous enough to spend some of that $1 billion on this very controversial purchase, was it a wise call?. I doubt so.

What we needed was a very short-run supply of equipment to totally annihilate insurgents he has referred to as ‘technically defeated’ within the shortest period of time.

100 soldiers were killed in Metele.Kareto and Baga before that. Our service chiefs are still in office even with soldiers openly bemoaning the lack of equipment to fight Boko haram. Buhari as an ex-army general who was a direct beneficiary of a coup plot need not be told the far-reaching consequences of leaving a military disgruntled. What we see today as soldiers raining abuses and crying over out-dated ammo tanks could very well transform into an overthrow of a democratically elected government.

And in that television and radio broadcast, if it does happen, the state of the military even after President Buhari’s withdrawal of $1b to fight insurgency will feature prominently. God help us.

Umar Sa’ad Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano

Twitter: @Alaye_100
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