Attempts by the chief of army staff, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah to boost the morale of the soldiers fighting insurgency in the northeast by automatically promoting all those who took part in the operation to liberate Baga town in Kukawa LGA of Borno State, has lead some soldiers fighting in other parts of the northeast to allege bias.
Soldiers in two of the states, Adamawa and Borno, who spoke to LEADERSHIP Weekend on condition of anonymity, said the success recorded in Baga should be hinged on the level of commitment and performance of all soldiers fighting in the northeast. They allege that the lopsided favouratism shown to those who took part in the liberation of Baga means they who have been staving off repeated attacks from the insurgents haven’t done anything commendable.Some of the serving soldiers spoken to in Adamawa State said such preferential treatment given to a selection of Nigerian troops could only spell doom for the revered profession, as it will be difficult for sidelined soldiers to give their best when their efforts are seemingly not acknowledged by the authorities.
The soldiers alleged that the gesture extended to the troops in Baga was a cheap attempt by the federal government and the military authorities to sweep under the carpet, the gory incident that led to the capture of the fishing community by Boko Haram insurgents, leading to the death of hundreds of civilians and soldiers.
While expressing disappointment over the incident, a soldier currently stationed in Mubi said the situation where some soldiers will be given preferential treatment at the expense of other equally gallant officers, is not only condemnable, but is a sure way of further decimating the integrity of the profession which was recently dented by political interference.
The soldier noted that if achievements and gallantry were the underlying factors for recognition and promotion, then the troops fighting the war on the Adamawa end ought to have been doubly promoted because they are the ones who lost the most lives and limbs in the quest to expunge the Boko Haram insurgency.
“About 7 local governments of AdamawaState where hitherto under the grip of the Boko Haram insurgents, including Mubi, the second largest town in the state, but within weeks of the commencement of our operations, we swiftly liberated four local governments, including Mubi.
“We also went ahead to liberate two other local governments despite our seeming constraints, but it seems that with the feat and successes we recorded, the military authorities did not deem it fit to promote us but went ahead with exuberance to promote soldiers that liberated only one local government. This action is highly reprehensible,” he said.
Another soldier who claimed to be part of the effort to liberate all the local governments in Adamawa State that fell into the hands of the Boko Haram insurgents said the new development was another low point in the noble profession, where political considerations have taken the place of merit and achievements.
“When I heard the story that soldiers who liberated Baga were promoted, I dismissed it as a lie because despite the rot in the system, I didn’t think the authorities would glaringly indulge in an action that is capable of ruining the military profession in its entirety.
“Those that feel that the sanctity of the profession must be compromised for them to achieve their devious aims must be told in plain language that they are doing a great disservice to the security and wellbeing of this country.
“If they do not recant their devious ways, definitely they will incinerate the military as a profession and by so doing, incinerate the country. They should be forewarned about the negative effects of their actions because right now, many soldiers are agitated by the development and until it is reversed, the military may implode,” he asserted.
In Borno, soldiers under the 7th Division of the Nigeria army, Maiduguri have also cited unfairness and breach of due process in the blanket promotion of soldiers that participated in the Baga liberation.
Soldiers who spoke to LEADERSHIP Weekend on the issue said that apart from the fact that such a promotion which involved both commissioned officers and troopers cannot be automatic, singling out only troops that went to Baga would be very unfair to other soldiers that had participated in other similar operations.
“With due respect to the COAS, it cannot be possible to promote soldiers through an administrative fiat or mere declaration,” said a ranked soldier.
“Those that went to Baga comprised commissioned officers, noncommissioned senior officers and privates; and promotion for all these involved serious courses and examinations. So, how can a soldier go ahead and hang a commissioned rank without passing through due process? As far as I am concerned, the declaration is political and cannot come to pass,” said the army officer.
Another soldier, who is a noncommissioned ranked soldier, lamented that the army is not being fair in its declaration of promotion for the Baga soldiers.
“More than a hundred soldiers that I know have been killed or badly injured in many Boko Haram operations; many of us had fought bloody battles with obsolete weapons; many of us were killed; some were permanently rendered disabled because of the Boko Haram insurgency; so how can it be fair to now say soldiers that invaded Baga and Mubi with better arms and ammunition should be declared national heroes and given instant promotion, including those that had died?”
“Most of us had participated in battles in Damboa, Konduga, Gwoza, Bama, Gamboru-Ngala and even some parts of Sambisa Forest, and today no one is speaking of them. This is not fair at all,” said the soldier.
Meanwhile, repeated attempts to contact the director of Defence Information, General Chris Olukolade, weren’t successful as he neither answered calls made to his cell phone nor replied to text messages sent to him requesting his reaction.
Source: Leadership


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