Lagos - The outgoing Air Chief Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh, has blamed past administrations for failure to support the armed forces in the fight against the Islamic militant Boko Haram sect.
Speaking in during his Pulling-Out Ceremony from Nigerian Armed Forces, Badeh noted that nation's militaries are equipped and trained in peace time, for the conflicts they expect to confront in the future but lacked support from the political leadership.
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Unfortunately, that has not been our experience as a nation. Over the years, the military was neglected and under-equipped to ensure the survival of certain regimes, while other regimes, based on advice from some foreign nations, deliberately reduced the size of the military and underfunded it, said Badeh.
Unfortunately, our past leaders accepted such recommendations without appreciating our peculiarities as a third world military, which does not have the technological advantage that could serve as force multipliers and compensate for reduced strength.
He said accordingly when faced with the crises in the North East and other parts of the country, the military was overstretched and had to embark on emergency recruitments and trainings, which were not adequate to prepare troops for the kind of situation we found ourselves in.
It is important therefore for the government to decide on the kind of military force it needs, by carrying out a comprehensive review of the nation's military force structure to determine the size, capability and equipment holding required to effectively defend the nation and provide needed security, he said.
This is based on the fact that without security, there cannot be sustainable development. The huge cost that would be required to rebuild the North East and other trouble spots in the country could have been avoided if the military had been adequately equipped and prepared to contain the ongoing insurgency before it escalated to where it is today.
Badeh said notwithstanding the modest successes recorded in the fight against terror, the task of co-ordinating the military and other security agencies in the fight against the insurgents was perhaps the most complex and challenging assignment he had in his over 38 years in Service.
For the first time, I was head of a military that lacked the relevant equipment and motivation to fight an enemy that was invisible and embedded with the local populace, he said.
Added to this, was the exploitation of a serious national security issue by a section of the press and the political class to gain political mileage. Furthermore, the activities of fifth columnists in the military and other security agencies who leaked operational plans and other sensitive military information to the terrorist, combined to make the fight against the insurgents particularly difficult.
He said the activities of these unpatriotic members of the military not only blunted the effectiveness of the fight, but also led to the needless deaths of numerous officers and men who unwittingly fell into ambushes prepared by terrorists who had advance warnings of the approach of such troops.
The decision by certain countries to deny weapons to prosecute the war also added to the challenges we faced, he added.
Badeh said despite these challenges, he was glad of some achievements during his time at the helm.
The achievements recorded are largely due to the commitment, patriotism and fighting spirit of our men and women in uniform who saw the fight against terror as a task that must be accomplished no matter the odds and in spite of the campaign of calumny against the military by a section of the media with their foreign collaborators.
He also hailed members of the public for the support.
I must also mention the support and co-operation we have continued to enjoy from our neighbouring countries, which have enabled us to present a united front against a common enemy.
"The great support we have continued to receive and the determination of our patriotic troops to defeat this enemy of our nation has not only helped us to remain focused, but to also embark on other projects for the armed forces.
Major General Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin has succeeded Badeh, whose contract Buhari did not renew.
- CAJ News