An Army of “Anything goes". These words were used to describe the Nigerian Army, by no other person but General Salihu Ibrahim, the famous NA1.  There has always been some little controversies over who NA1 should be. Is it Zakariya Mamailari, our first Sandhurst trained officer, or Salihu Ibrahim, the very first officer to pass out of the Nigerian Defence Academy? But that is not the issue here today.

Salihu Ibrahim went from Second Lieutenant to Chief of Army Staff, without once taking up any political appointment, even in acting capacity. In his very first Chief of Army Staff Conference, he described the Nigerian Army, as “an army of anything goes”.

The above description was to emphasise the massive indiscipline in the corps, occasioned by the pollution of army espirit de corps, by politically exposed officers, whose exposure to the spoils of political office, had eroded discipline within the Army, with young officers hustling for political patronage, rather than core Army duties.

General Ishola Williams was more scathing in his remarks. Pointing at the many young officers sitting in the front ranks of the Conference, peopled with the Lawan Gwadabe, Abdulmumuni Aminu, Danjiwa Umar and many of the many famous IBB boys, came just short of calling them thieves deserving of a firing squad. He said in an army where Generals were sharing offices in Defence HeadquartersLieutenant Colonels were holding down command appointments. He railed and cursed all who had exposed the army to politics, ruined discipline and made our army more of choir praise singers, than the disciplined fighting force, they used to be.

That was nearly thirty years ago. One would turn in his grave and the other would weep with tears, if they know what our army has become today. The same army that in three years, with brother officers on both sides, fought and brought a civil war to conclusion now cannot defeat a rag tag collection of bandits masquerading as Boko Haram. Don't tell me any garbage about internal insurgency, our army fought and brought peace to Liberia and Sierra Leone where some of the most brutal fighting ever to take place on the West African coast, occurred. That same army is having bases captured and over run by bandits.

What has happened to our army? From the recruitment of all sorts of shady characters, to peopling the officer corps with “indomie soldiers”, who rub pancake and bleach, incapable of being disciplined or enforcing discipline. Officers who sell guns to bandits and trade in uniforms and information, who run off with hundreds of millions if not billions, meant for troop welfare. As the saying goes, when the mother goat is chewing, the kid goats watch, the officers, filthy with lucre, are superintending over soldiers greedy for a share of the pie.

Our soldiers have taken to banditry, they are now in cahoots with drug dealers, politicians, thieves and kidnappers, so much so that they are willing to kill for votes or kill other law enforcement officers, to rescue well known kidnappers. Their impunity was not without foundation, they knew they would not be called to account, either by their superior officers or their tooth picking Commander in Chief.

Our Country has gone from producing “an army of anything goes”, to becoming “a country of anything goes”!
It's midnight again.
  • Moses Ideho, a Barrister-at-Law, is a social crusader and good governance advocate
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