A Nigerian soldier in Borno reveals why the insurgents may continue to have upper hand and suggests a way out
A Nigerian soldier fighting the Boko Harem insurgents in Maiduguri, Bornu State, (name withheld) has given reasons while the insurgents may continue to have the upper hands in the battle.
He equally warned that more soldiers will continue to desert the army due to low morale, lack of modern equipment, saboteurs among others. He emailed to us an account of their battles and challenges fighting Boko Haram:
“I am a Nigerian Soldier attached to the Multinational Joint Task Force located in KauKirie Section 3 Baga. I joined the Army less than three years ago with the aim of helping to defend Nigerian territory and sovereignty against both external and internal aggressions.
After six months training, we were drafted to Maiduguri, Bornu state to fight the Boko Haram insurgency. I looked forward with enthusiasm to fighting against this sect that has been inflicting pains on innocent Nigerians without just. Hardly had we settled down in Bornu State did my colleagues and I realize that we were in an army different from what made us to join. It has been highly politicised, demoralised, lacking discipline and above all, without tools to fight.
Well, I just want to use this medium to bring to the fore some of the major challenges hindering our operations, and they are lack of intelligence gathering and increasing cases of saboteurs in our operations among others.
Just to mention few cases. I recall a particular operation, when our driver refused to take a particular route that we were directed to take. We did not argue with him. That was our saving grace. The following day, we learnt that militants laid ambush waiting for us and as we did not come, they killed every civilian that passed that route.
Another case was in the wee hours of July 31, our camp was attacked for several hours while two of our colleagues were confirmed dead, 19 were declared missing after we ran for our dear lives and our camp was set ablaze. We were rescued by Chadian soldiers. Later seven returned to base while 12 were confirmed dead. As I write this, their corpses have not been recovered. In fact, they were left unburied and left to decompose like animals.
This has further dampened the morale of soldiers. We are now experiencing deserters every day. Those of us that have not yet deserted, we are still surviving by the grace of Almighty God.
Besides the fact that we are poorly equipped, bullets are rationed to us to go and confront highly equipped militants with state of the art weapons. There was a day when we came under attack, my gun failed to function. It just locked. I’m not the only one this has happened to.
The truth of the matter is that our political leaders and Military hierarchy are gambling with our lives. They are just sacrificing our lives for nothing. On several occasions, when we go for operations and come under heavy attacks, when we call for reinforcement, there will not be any, and if they decide to send, it takes several hours if not days. We have been having problem with intelligence gathering since we came here. It is absolutely difficult to use non-Northerner for intelligence gathering because of unwillingness of the indigenes to cooperate.
Again, it has been equally difficult to use indigenes for intelligence gathering. In many cases, information from indigenes led to fatal situations because many of them have been found to be false and unreliable. Some of our colleagues from this area (North-east) are sympathetic to the insurgents. Sadly, the insurgents may continue to have the upper hand in the war because of the operational problems of lack of modern equipment, use of inexperienced combatants who have not spent more than five years in the military, low morale and other things I have mentioned earlier. There are lot of saboteurs in the force who are very sympathetic to the cause of the insurgents.
The war requires deployment of fresh combatants, with high discipline and motivation. Those fighting the insurgents at present, unfortunately, including me, have lost the zeal and motivation to continue.