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By Omeiza Ajayi
A member of the House of Representatives Committee on Defence, Hon. Yunusa Ahmad Abubakar has pushed for the engagement of mercenaries to effectively prosecute the war against terrorism and banditry in the country, saying Nigeria’s security architecture as presently constituted has been politicised and compromised.
Speaking on a breakfast television show monitored in Abuja on Friday, Abubakar who is also a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC said majority of members of both chambers of the National Assembly are on all fours with him with regards to recruiting mercenaries.
While he said the lawmakers have resolved never to play politics with the nation’s security challenges, Abubakar said the mercenaries to be hired should be allowed to operate outside the command of those currently prosecuting the war.
His comments came as a former Chairman of the House Committee on Capital Markets, Hon. Tajudeen Yusuf lambasted President Muhammadu Buhari for killing the morale of troops and allowing partisan considerations rubbish his part credentials as a former military commander.
According to Tajudeen who is a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party PDP, though Nigeria got it wrong in its approach to fighting terror from the outset, the President Buhari administration has a lot of share of the blame going by its broken promise of leading from the front.
He said; “Even the National Assembly bent over backwards to accommodate certain excesses that should have been serious impeachable offences. I remember that at a point, he (Buhari) just took a billion dollars without any appropriation, without recourse to the National Assembly and said because he wanted to fight insurgents.
He took the money from the Federation Account even before sharing, meaning he took from states, LGs and everybody, not just the federal. We kept quiet and when we came to the floor, we said a lesser evil can be allowed for the general good; that if he is committing this offence and it is for the good of the nation, let us allow it.
“The leadership has failed. Before the 2015 election, there was urgency in fighting this insurgency. Late 2014 to early 2015, we had our military, working with the mercenaries, take the war to the Boko Haram terrorists.
“When Buhari came in, rather than sustaining it, we quashed the system that was on ground. We sent packing all the men that had been on ground for about two years. That is why I said the President refused to put into action his long years of experience as a military man but allowed partisanship to take over, saying no, we cannot continue with what they (Jonathan administration) were doing”.
Asked to proffer solution to the issue, Tajudeen said; “The president himself should sit up. Don’t just say it, act. How can the Chadian Army be more well-kitted than the Nigerian Army?
“The president himself first contributed to the low morale when he kept his service chiefs – Courses 25, 26, 28 when Course 33 were going on retirement. So, why will I be exceptionally committed to this war when I know that it is not about being promoted at the right time? And when it was even known to everybody that it was not anything significant they did what kept them in those offices.
“We need to identify those who are Boko Haram members within our military echelon and begin to weed them out because there are stories everywhere that when we have intelligence reports, and we are advancing to terrorist camps, then one officer gives a counter instruction for the troops not to advance”, he added.
Mercenaries to the rescue
Abubakar on his part lamented that much has not been done in prosecuting the war on terror.
He said; “The situation that we have allowed ourselves to reach is really pathetic. Just last weekend, we encapsulated the issue as Nigeria being at war with itself because the war is more or less taking place within us.
“So many resolutions have been passed as far as the House of Representatives is concerned and we have thrown our weight behind solutions to this problem. Unfortunately, much has not been done and we are in a precarious situation that majority of us in both chambers of the National Assembly have reached a consensus that we need a helping hand. These mercenaries have to be hired to really fight the war and lessen the intensity.
“The reasons are not far-fetched. We have seen that the armed forces whether the military or police along the ranks have been compromised, have been politicised. A lot of members of the armed forces have really taken sides and they are not helping matters.
So, the best option is, we hire mercenaries so that apart from the declaration of a state of emergency, we need a helping hand, mercenaries that will come and push these people and then we have to enhance this our tripartite kind of approach with our neighbouring countries”, he stated.
When asked whether the mercenaries will operate independently of the military or under the same command of the allegedly compromised military, Hon. Abubakar said; “The immediate-past Chief of Army Staff, Buratai said we need at least 20 years to win the war. Do we have to wait for 20 years? Are these the kind of people that we will now entrust with prosecuting the war?”
The lawmaker also disclosed that Nigeria is not serious about winning the war on terror, adding that there are however some internal saboteurs.
“We made some progress before but we were not serious to prosecute the war. There are a lot of enemies within. We have some Judases even among those prosecuting the war. Last week, the Zamfara government arrested security officials working with bandits. It has been happening. We have been hearing about this even in Maiduguri and it is the same soldiers who are now using the war to enrich themselves rather than protecting Nigeria’s integrity.
So, some people are doing this just to amass wealth for their selfish reasons. Some are doing it for political reasons and you cannot also rule out foreign collaboration. I can come out boldly and say France thinking of taking control of the Anglophone, that Nigeria being an English-speaking country surrounded by the Francophone countries and then the control of oil in our territory in Chad.
“Before President Idris Deby of Chad died, he led troops to decimate the Boko Haram. His son who took over from him also led troops two days ago to do same. If Chad with obsolete equipment could do that, why can’t Nigeria do the same? It is because of the internal crisis. We don’t even trust ourselves. Some are there to make money, some are there to promote a political tendency and that is why we feel that we can no longer trust the Nigerian Army.
“The astonishing fact is that the security agencies know all these their camps. We also have NIGCOMSAT. We have the intelligentsia ready to contribute their quota.
“Also, the people in government do not study their advisers. They connive and pay ransom. When they pay ransom, only about less than 30 percent gets to the bandits. The scenario in Katsina and even Zamfara is there. It is the so-called civil servants, local government chairmen and district heads who are now the ones distributing the booty”.
Won’t politicise security
Abubakar added that the House has resolved to ask the National Security Adviser NSA and Service Chiefs to furnish it with all records regarding prosecution of the war.
He said; “Two days ago, there was a sudden reawakening in the House that we shall no longer play politics as far s the security of this nation is concerned. After all, security is the first duty of government as enshrined in the constitution and if we as National Assembly cannot safeguard or protect that aspect of the constitution, then we have failed”.