*Says viral video showing troops drinking dirty, muddy water confirms its position that troops are poorly treated
By Joseph Erunke, ABUJA
THE viral video of some frontline troops seen drinking dirty muddy water has attracted condemnation from a civil society group which accused the military authorities of abandoning troops to their fate in spite of the huge budget allocated to defence by President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government in the past seven years.
The group operating under the aegis of the Civil Society Coalition for National Peace and Security, CSCNPS, said the sad development was a confirmation of its earlier position that the Nigerian military personnel, especially troops, were operating under a debilitating condition.
The group noted that besides water, troops were not being properly fed to pursue their assigned task ahead of them just as it said their welfare was being denied, thus contributing to their poor morale in prosecuting the war waged against the country by some forces.
To this end,the group which noted that the federal government only in the national budget for the fiscal year 2022, allocated over N1 trillion for defence operations, procurement and upgrade of capabilities, as well as infrastructure, reiterated its call that the president not only sack the National Security Adviser, NSA, Major General Babagana Monguno and the service chiefs but also undertake a complete overhaul of the entire security architecture.
Besides,the group in a statement, Sunday, signed by its National Coordinator, Dr Bashir Usman Katsina and National Secretary, Arch Usman Ndagi Lapai, demanded a total and comprehensive probe of the defence budget in the past seven years of the Buhari government.
The group which said the viral video evokes memories of the condition of some victims of war in some countries tasked President Buhari not to allow the nation’s military authorities to subject troops sacrificing their lives to the fatherland, to pass through such a situation.
“The viral video of frontline troops drinking dirty, muddy, and bacteria-infected water has confirmed our position that our troops are not being taken care of by authorities of the military.
“This is surprising considering the huge funds allocated to defence since the Buhari administration came on board,”it said.
The defence budget, it noted, comprised expenditures of the various institutions including the Ministry of Defence, the Defence Headquarters, Army, Air Force, and Navy, in addition to other organisations such as Defence Intelligence Agency, College, Missions and Industries.
The group also noted that the Ministry of Defence section included funding for rehabilitation of barracks, purchase of defence equipment and motor vehicles, assessment of APCs, equipment and facilities in the Nigerian Army, while the Defence Headquarters devoted funding for the procurement of ‘“military equipment,” utility vehicles, kits, arms and ammunition.
But it regretted that the budget was not having meaningful positive impacts on the above-mentioned areas of defence, thus calling on the president to replace the National Security Adviser, NSA, Major General Mohammed Babagana Monguno, retd, and the service chiefs.
It insisted that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and other relevant agencies must immediately undertake a comprehensive investigation of defence budgets between 2015 and 2022.
The probe, the group added, must include the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), as well the service chiefs within the period under review.
It particularly said its demand was necessitated by not only the worsening plight of military personnel but also the growing insecurity in the country and other tendencies threatening national security, despite the huge budgets for intelligence and security agencies.
It, however, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the huge budgetary allocations he has made available to the defence and security sectors, in the last seven years.
According to the statement, the development was indicative of the commitment of the President toward a secure and peaceful nation, where social and economic activities and investments will thrive.
“Unfortunately, there has been no corresponding result to justify the huge investments in the critical defence and security sector, which run into trillions of naira, in the last seven years.
“These investments, to all intents and purposes, are a demonstration of Buhari’s commitment to the security of Nigerians,” the group stated.
It said the probe has become imperative, in view of the fact that Buhari will be exiting office on May 29, 2023, and the compelling need for the world to know the truth surrounding the trillions of naira allocated for defence and security.
The group expressed regrets that the insecurity across the country, is having a consequential negative effect on all sectors of the nation’s economy.
“The biggest challenge to Nigeria s development as it stands today is insecurity and the commander in chief of the Armed forces must act now.
” Those benefiting from the nation’s security problems and who are bent on frustrating all government’s efforts at ending the ugly development just for their selfish benefits must be shown the way out. The situation is really bad, except something is done urgently starting with the sacking of the National security adviser Babagana Monguno, who is in charge of coordinating intelligence agencies and assets as well as the replacement of all the service chiefs with committed officers, the 2023 election may just be a mirage,”it added.
“We believe strongly that appointing a new set of Service Chiefs, as well an NSA, will bring fresh impetus and perspectives on countering banditry, kidnapping, insurgency and other forms of criminality in the country.
According to CSCNPS, the retired senior officer and the service chiefs have run out of ideas on how to tackle contemporary security challenges besetting the country.
Apart from the NSA, who has spent about seven years in office, the group also tasked the President on the urgent need to also remove all the Service Chiefs, as part of deliberate measures to rejig the nation’s security architecture which, it argued, has failed to address the myriad of security challenges confronting Nigeria.
Recall that the worsening state of insecurity in the country had in recent time,triggered demands for Monguno’s immediate replacement from many individuals, groups, and institutions, including the House of Representatives.