Source: Leadership Nigeria
Years of military incursion into Nigeria’s polity was a liability rather than an asset to the Nigerian Army as professionalism was neglected and equipment left to rot while the era lasted.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Azubike Ihejirika, passed this verdict on the military dictatorship that held Nigeria hostage for close to 30 years while speaking at the commissioning of the Nigerian Army Project by the Minister of Defence, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed.
He disclosed that the army suffered untold hardship under the military dictatorship more than any facet of the polity.
The COAS said, “Let me also use this opportunity to reiterate the Nigerian Army unalloyed loyalty to the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces and absolute support for democracy and constitutional governance in this nation. It is important for me to seize this opportunity to state that the Nigerian Army has continued to witness tremendous progress since the country’s return to democratic governance.
“The dilapidation in infrastructure and equipment which has been commented about recently in the press was brought about by the unfortunate long period of military involvement in governance in this country. Efforts to transform the Army commenced with the return to democracy in 1999. For those who do not know or may have chosen to forget, serious attention was never paid to welfare, while the army hardly trained during the dark era of military dictatorship due to mutual distrust. For instance, the armoured vehicles were left to deteriorate, as there were fears of their being used against the government of the day.”
According to him, it was unlikely that a commanding officer would dare to warm or drive around an armoured vehicle without authorisation from the Army headquarters. adding, “Hence most of the equipment were allowed to deteriorate.”
By Bayo Oladeji