By Ishola Balogun, Kingsley Omonobi-ABUJA
The incapacity of the Nigerian military to effectively confront and crush the Boko Haram insurgency was brought to a global audience, Thursday, with a report by the Cable News Network (CNN) showing clips of interviews with some soldiers, revealing dissatisfaction among the country’s military forces.
The soldiers revealed to the international news channel that they were ‘ill-equipped and not motivated’ in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group. They also complained of low morale among the rank and file, dearth of uniforms, corruption among others in the military.
The soldiers said troops were given AK47s to fight the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists who are always armed with anti-aircraft guns.
One of the soldiers revealed that uniforms were not issued, adding that some of them had to buy their uniforms and pay their medical bills. He said that morale was very low, citing corruption as one of the problems of the military.
A widow also revealed that her husband was killed in battle over a year ago, claiming she was neither told her husband had died nor paid any compensation. The widow was quoted thus: ‘When my husband died, they never called me to tell me that I lost my husband. They buried him without notifying me.’
The Nigerian media had repeatedly published stories bothering on the inadequacies of the military forces in the fight against Boko Haram. It was no longer news in Nigeria. However, CNN report made it international and the Nigerian military high command has described their report as blackmail and an attempt to smear its image and character.
In a statement by the Director Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade, the military said ‘Nigerian Armed Forces are without doubt committed and focused on the ongoing fight against terror and is ensuring that both weapons and welfare are incrementally provided to the fighting force.’
Olukolade said ‘the Nigerian military reject in absolute terms the report that has been repeatedly aired on CNN which presented footages of interviews with individuals claiming to be Nigerian soldiers.
‘This said report is certainly another orchestrated smear campaign targeted at the image and character of the Nigerian Armed Forces by some entrenched interests. This CNN interview and report is an unfortunate effort to promote blackmail. It smacks of an international conspiracy against Nigeria’s national security.’
The CNN reports were not different from many those common in the Nigerian media about the inadequacies of the military especially as repeatedly corroborated by Borno State Governor Kashim Shetima.