- Capt Umar advises Nigeria to seek help in fighting terror
By Dirisu Yakubu
Retired military officer, Capt. Aliyu Umar has said the continental and global respect enjoyed by the Nigerian military is now waning owing largely to what he called the absence of craftsmanship across the leadership spectrum of the country.
Umar, who is making waves across the country in the sphere of private security consultancy, spoke against the backdrop of the recent rescue of an American citizen, Philipe Nathan Walton, who was abducted on the Niger/Nigerian border by criminal elements and brought to Nigeria in demand for ransom.
The operation which took place in yet to be disclosed location in Northern Nigeria is still eliciting reactions given its success in not only rescuing the abducted Walton unhurt but also for the killing of six out of his seven captors by the American elite force.
Capt. Umar further noted that the non-involvement of the Nigerian troops is an indication of the low esteem the nation’s military is now held by foreign powers who in the good days of yore would have worked in sync with their Nigerian counterparts.
In an exclusive conversation with Saturday Vanguard, the security expert lamented the sorry state of affairs in the country, saying that singular operation in the shores of Nigeria without her military involvement, tells a lot about the perception of the country in the international arena.
His words: “Our leaders have to first and foremost master the art of state craftsmanship. State craftsmanship is not for everyone. The reckoning you get cannot be divorced from your standing and public image. What people think of you comes first before anything else and it affects every other thing. So, if the Americans decide to exit from 25,000 feet with six men, the most senior of who could just be a Lieutenant or Staff Sergeant, land in our premises and take what belongs to them out; what comes to me is that they probably were not interested in entrusting us with the job. Because they have lost that confidence that we could go in there and bring the man safely out. So, they decided to go and do it themselves.
Continuing, he said, “Ordinarily, it would have been a liaison, a collaboration and if I know my government well, if that had been a collaboration, they would have been the first to go to the press to say yes, we collaborated with XYZ forces to do this and that. They were silent because they were caught napping. If I know the American President well, Mr. Trump, he is somebody that doesn’t mince words. He knows what he wants to do. He goes ahead and does it regardless of the outcome. He will tell you, America first. So, what happened is not surprising.
“Gone were the days when there was no peace keeping operation in African soil without Nigeria having to play a role. How many peace keeping operations are our forces doing right now? When you say these things, rather than listen, you come across as being antagonistic,” he added.
Why Nigeria is not getting help
“The reason we are not getting help is because within the leadership, there is a serious deficiency in what I will like to call sincerity of purpose. Political leadership, party leadership, military leadership as well as cultural and religious leadership are all involved. People tend to be limited to their very little corner and thinking from there. The party leader always seeks party interest. The one in government sees life as us against them and rather seek solution; he will blame it on opposition. The religious leader will like to exploit it to score cheap religious point.
“Once upon a time, the North East was about Boko Haram, Muslims versus Christians and all those leaders that were pushing that have all gone obsolete and mute now that Boko Haram proved them wrong. Within the armed forces, there are fronts for these interests. So, you see a commander is actually there to defend and protect but he has to take direction from the leadership. In all fairness to any general, it will amount to career suicide if you go ahead to do what your boss does not endorse.
“Basically, what you are seeing in the North East is not a big problem. Once upon a time, I recalled that the Americans told us that they knew where the Chibok Girls were. But we did not manage that well. Once upon a time, help came from a group known as Executive Outcome, we didn’t manage that well. There is move against national interest and that is the pedigree and quality of politics and leaders we have. They behave like children, I am sorry to say this. They don’t know where to draw the line between party interest and national interest. They don’t know where to draw the line between national security and governance,” he added.
What loss of good image costs Nigeria
Our public institutions of governance and politics; whether security or civil service, have lost the reckoning of citizens. They have lost the reckoning of even the criminals. Home and abroad, the Nigerian brand is losing reckoning by the minute. That lack of reckoning is what informed a Ghanaian citizen going to pull down our High Commission building with a bulldozer, not long ago. Why didn’t he do it to the Egyptian Embassy, the American, Libyan or South African embassies?” he queried.
For Capt. Umar, there is a possibility of getting foreign troops to assist their Nigerian counterparts in running Boko Haram, bandits and insurgents out of town. Like the American troops have been doing in helping the Syrian government of Bashar Al-Assad against the Islamic State in Syria, ISIS, Umar insists Nigeria can get similar assistance provided the political cum military leadership demonstrate a high level of “sincerity of purpose.”