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‘Nigerian soldiers parade expired feats as key performance indicators’

By Samson Ezea
08 December 2018   |   3:35 am
Captain Umar Babangida Aliyu (rtd) is a National Security Resource and Solution-Options Consultant. He is a former Military Intelligence Officer and member of the 40th Regular Course who served in the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) while in service. In this interview with SAMSON EZEA, he spoke on the recent killing of Nigeria military personnel…

Captain Umar Babangida Aliyu (rtd)

Captain Umar Babangida Aliyu (rtd) is a National Security Resource and Solution-Options Consultant. He is a former Military Intelligence Officer and member of the 40th Regular Course who served in the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) while in service.

In this interview with SAMSON EZEA, he spoke on the recent killing of Nigeria military personnel by Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State, why the insurgency war has lingered and other topical security issues bedeviling the country.

What is your reaction to recent killing of scores of Nigerian military personnel in Borno State?

It is quite unfortunate. This is a group that has been technically defeated; a group that has been significantly downgraded; a group that has been qualified with various descriptive verbosity. It is indeed unfortunate, how they have wrecked havoc on two military units in the last four months.

Are you not disappointed with this ugly development, considering that Federal Government’s boast that the insurgents have technically defeated? 

I am neither surprised nor disappointed; ours is a government that displays an amazing deviance from superior argument nay popular opinion.

Same could be said of its security chiefs, allied security advisers and aides of the President.

It is no news that our security apparatuses and their chiefs seem to have a deep-seated aversion to numbers. 

We need not look far to know if Boko Haram insurgents are indeed defeated either technically or any other way for that matter.

All we need do is gauge the numbers, the frequency of occurrence, the attrition rate on both sides, the trimmings and durations and the axis of retreat. This can be done so easily.

Its mind boggling a retinue of globally trained generals won’t just figure it out; and so many other things we at GoldWater play with on a daily basis on our database.

The numbers, I repeat, is where the real story is. There in lies dispersions and convergences that lend a lie to so many claims as made by a Government and security agencies that are clearly not thriving as it should, but consistently parading out-worn, if not eroded and expired feats as key performance indicators.

At my Consults, the fate and pulse-shot of what transpires in the Northeast operations and indeed the entire national security wise, is best articulated via meticulous numbering and graphic interpretation of events as they unfold. We do this routinely.

It helps us predict, proven, and in some cases protect our clientele, whose enterprise environment traverses the Northeast.

We have done this creditably well for six years, using mostly, our statistical computations of trends, spikes and lulls, to glean off useful information on the going out there.

If we can do this using statistical numbers and news, (call it the technical and fundamental analyses of the Northeast if you like)…I see no reason a government and its military and Intelligence chiefs can’t.

We at GoldWater can easily lend a hand to an egocentric and denial-ridden security and intelligence community.

Borno State comes as no disappointment or surprise; Nigeria struggles with National Security across board. The Senate got its baptism of masked armed men lately.

Six geo political zones have their own brands of threat genres, from brigands to robbers to kidnappers to ritualists to cultists etc. National Security is struggling.

There is no gainsaying we are running in circles at the expense of the lives of poor Nigerians.

Despite billions spent in the purchase of equipment, why have Boko Haram insurgents continued to killing soldiers with ease?

Honestly, I watched the largely circulated or viral clip on the attack. Any trained professional who sees that clip will know directly where the problem lies.

At GoldWater, we not only watched the clip, we weighed hitherto gathered information about soldiers welfare and equipment status against what was seen and largely formed background of the clip as it were.

It is shocking and regretful the things we have logged on our database which the clip confirmed.

Any trained eye cannot see that clip and lend a lie to the complaints and yearnings of our soldiers and officers, particularly as it affects and concerns their welfare, equipment, deployment, and safety out there in the trenches.

Those boys were sitting ducks…and this brings to fore questions regarding cash flow and disbursement, cost effectiveness and efficiency, of the humungous amounts spent on matters security at the state, national levels, not less so the Northeast.

Do you support the call for probe into military spending since the eruption of Boko Haram insurgents?

Naturally that should be an option, if only to debunk the claims we hear about the Northeast being an El-dorado for blood money accumulation for those mandated to end the scourge or at the very least bringing it to check.

Why is that the same set of soldiers who have once protested over poor welfare and equipment were the ones that were killed by the insurgents?

This question can be best answered by Chief of Army Staff and his field officers.

What Nigerians must understand is that army in a democracy is results driven. Results in civilised and democratic Army’s as SMART compliant.

Over 40 men dead, to include a Commanding Officer, who raised concerns on the same location and condition earlier)…a Second in Command, the Unit Adjutant and RSM, calls for concern. These are four key officers. 

We must also understand that with each lost soldier comes a widow or at the very least bereaved parents and siblings. No this is unacceptable; over 40 widows.

So many afflicted children, siblings, parents etc. Please think about it. Somebody is playing with our minds here.

We must begin to interrogate the circumstances and decisions that make this large number of losses of lives possible in 2018 Nigerian Armed Forces, given the colossal sums penciled down for operations. We must turn our forensic lights on the numericals and finances too. .

When will Nigeria defeat the insurgents or will it be endless war against terrorism?

I recall suggesting a “road map” be crafted for returning the Northeast to normalcy. 

This I did some six years ago via a TV media brands platform. I recall the word “roadmap” became buzzword for all and sundry.

Security agencies personnel were not left out. Everything became a road map…and a road map was everything.

Today, I ask again, do we have a road map for the Northeast? Are there blueprints that support the attainment and closure of this road map or are we basking under excuses that beg the problem at hand.

Yes Terrorism is not routed over night, but 11 years on are we any wiser? If we are serious about the Northeast is 11 years not enough time for other nations in the sub-region to start seeking assistance and training from us in the fight against terror?

Those we seek help from, whom did they learn from? Are we learning from ours given the repetitive nature of costly and avoidable massacres.

The rate at which we are going is there any gain saying the war will not be endless.

Do you share in the sentiment or view that those who are benefiting from insurgency who are at the corridors of power won’t want Boko Haram to end?

Put another way, those charged with managing events are not results driven, have no Key Performance Indicators (KPI); are obliged resources which clearly out span their delivery-ability.

They may claim under-funding, but so also is the claim that the little that is given is not yielding commensurately consistent results as it were, regardless the insufficiency.

I want to be convinced that the huge funds we hear being allotted are actually sponsoring the quality and content we see daily of Northeast operations.

Believe me, without casting aspersions on anyone the Northeast operations is overbloated vis a vis what is on ground.

As I always put it, the bane of our National Security Posture, including the Northeast is Zero Results Management. We are not results and timelines driven.
The situation in the Northeast can be tracked and driven to specific results along specific timelines without any lazy man refrains or excuses; except of course if there are ways in which the festering situation benefits those who ordinarily should be eager to be done and over with it.

Is it possible that some soldiers are working for the insurgents to undermine the military and the government?

That’s nothing new my friend. Even Christ had a Judas in his team.

The thing is this…if a soldier can turn rogue, I would be so excited it were still in my heydays as an intelligence officer. Those who know their onions should catch my drift on this.

Soldiers are working for insurgents, so what? You either know what to do about it, or you don’t.

Is it not time to change the service chiefs, especially in the light of massive killings of soldiers in the battlefield?

It takes a bit of creative imagination to catch my mindset on this issue of service chiefs.

While it is non-stereotype as far as the Nigerian Army, past and present is concerned, what I am about to say applies everywhere else. Any good student of military history will attest to that.

You see, to understand this service chief matter, consider our Army a national football team of sorts.

Each player (soldier) and indeed the Skipper (officer or General) has his strengths and weaknesses.

Coaches (Government/Defence Minister) know when to insert or extract each player, depending on the players’ strengths and the task that needs to be accomplished.

Technocrats, Directors, General and leaders are called to lead and accomplish tasks based on their strengths and the nature of the challenge at hand. 

Once they are done and delivered, they are replaced with the next, right leadership persona and skill set, for the next phase of tasks or goals as the case may be. It is, to put it simply, a matter of Strategic Management.

I see the present set of Service Chiefs as men who were called to achieve a specific goal.

These set of Generals worked together to take back and stabilise the Northeast. Having achieved that, they seem to be struggling with consolidation.

Reclaiming and stabilising the Northeast from the Insurgents is not same as consolidation and gravitation from counter to anti-terrorism.

I dare say that our present service chiefs have achieved that for which their leadership strengths are best suited.

There are no all-round Generals. There never was. They all, each one as far back in time, have strengths and weaknesses too.

Some generals are better field officers. Others make better staff officers, some blend both attributes; no matter, there will always be a chink in that armour.

Like the actor, who leaves the stage when ovation is loudest, its not out of place to usher in another set of service chiefs, with strengths more attuned to the next phase, of the Northeast operations, which should by now, be long underway (Consolidation and Anti Terrorism) I am assuming there is a road map to guide these phases.

As you can see much of what was gained is gradually being eroded by the frequency and casualty levels in recent attacks.

Staging the Army Conference in Borno and the President’s visit are not only monotonous, but a reminder of our propensity for ceremony and publicity as palliatives in dire times when results are much needed than ceremony and publicity.