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The second Civil War and the last Nigerian

OUR North-East has been the theatre of an international civil war, but we are the last to know; a surrogate war masterminded by foreign powers. The socioeconomic and humanitarian consequences of our second civil war have been far more devastating than those of our tragic Biafra war 1967 to 1970. The recent disaster at 157 Battalion base in Metele, where scores of our brave soldiers perished, dramatises the horrors of our second civil war; a tragedy that sears the conscience of every patriot.

The insurgents had invaded the base at 6.00 p.m. camouflaged in the uniform of the Chadian wing of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF). Our men realised too late that they were enemies, not friends. They invaded with overwhelming firepower, including rocket-propelled grenade launchers and anti-aircraft gun trucks. After a battle that lasted only 40 minutes, our men and officers, including the base commander, lay dead. A lucky few managed to escape into the primeval savannah. When a rescue mission arrived to repatriate the dead and wounded, they also fell under enemy fire; many of them were killed and their armoured tanks captured by the battle-hardened rabble of the Islamic State of West Africa (ISWA). The ultimate national humiliation.

A video clip is doing the rounds, showing ramshackle 1972 Czechoslovakian tanks and other obsolete equipment recently destroyed by ISWA. An unknown soldier recently sent this impassioned plea to the media: “We beg the Nigerian media to help us by echoing out our muffled voices. The children of poor Nigerians have been turned into chicken meant for easy sacrifices by our commanders… We are being killed on a daily basis as if our lives don’t matter… As soldiers, we signed to lay down our lives in defence of this country, but certainly not in the manner we are being presented for slaughter without dignity…”

We live in dark times.

Several reasons explain why we are losing the second civil war.

First, some of the people in power cannot completely be trusted. Former President Goodluck Jonathan lamented that he found himself wining and dining with Boko Haram. When General Muhammadu Buhari was in the opposition, he declared that any attack on Boko Haram is “an attack against the North.”  We heard him loud and clear and have never forgotten.

Second, our military capability is deficient. Our military lack the tools to defeat the enemy. Our armed forces were once respected in UN peacekeeping missions in the Congo and in Lebanon and in our own West African ECOMOG. Gone are the days. Today, our military chiefs have become venal potentates who are feeding fat on the blood of our soldiers. Napoleon Bonaparte famously remarked that “an army marches on its stomach.” Ours have been forced to march on empty bellies. Unsurprisingly, there have been mutinies. Soldiers have gone AWOL rather than face the certainty of death. One young soldier, I was told, feigned madness so he could be evacuated into the safety of a mental institution.

Three, there is no military strategy to speak of. It would seem that our high command are innocent of the first principles of strategy. If they did, they would have known that what we face is not just an insurgency but an international civil war on our doorstep. They would have understood that there are international forces hell-bent on turning our country into a dead carcass like the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). They would never have naively trusted our MNJTF who are neo-colonial agents of world powers who see us the Carthaginian power that must be destroyed. Make no mistake about it – they want to destroy Nigeria, slowly. And they would have known that the shadowy ISWA are 70 per cent foreigners and only 30 per cent Nigerians. They would also have understood the asymmetrical nature of this conflict that combines guerrilla warfare with traditional military battles, anchored on the doctrine of  fitna – a war of attrition based on continuous warfare that aims to demoralise victim communities. We are too intellectually bereft to grasp the nature and complexity of the enemy.

Finally, we have no coherent security architecture. The intelligence services have been at war with each other instead of working in concert. What emerges is an incestuous relationship. Some may be double-agents owing allegiance to foreign powers. It is an irony that foreigners who hate our country with such venom are the ones running the show while true Nigerians have been reduced to being spectators in their own fatherland.

Lest my gentle readers forget: Without consulting parliament or stakeholders, the current administration smuggled our country into the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC), a military alliance founded by Saudi Arabia in 2015. It is an irony of history that Saudi Arabia, one of the financiers of world terrorism, is the leader of a coalition supposedly committed to fighting terrorism. The IMCTC is a Sunni alliance committed to checkmating Iran and the Shi’ites in what has become a new Cold War in the Middle East. A thousand Shi’ites were cold-bloodedly massacred in Zazzau in December 2015. It patently amounts to an illegal, illegitimate abuse of power to drag our country into foreign entanglements of which we know nothing.

Our hearts go out to all the families of the fallen heroes. The Metele commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Ibrahim Sakaba, was a gallant and brave officer. He was born on 20 December 1975. He would have been 43 this month. His life was tragically cut short by the murderous avarice of his military superiors.

Sakaba graduated with high honours as an infantry officer from Nigerian Army Regular Course 48 of the Nigerian Defence Academy in 2001. A devout relious man as well as a devoted husband and father, he hailed from the brave warrior Zuru people of Kebbi. He was first deployed in Borno in 2014 as a Major, with Service Number N/10744; an officer destined for high military leadership. Shortly after his deployment as a staff officer to 157 Task Force Battalion in 2014, Sakaba was reportedly involved in a skirmish over what he believed were unprofessional and unconscionable orders. He was posted out of the division the same year. He was so devoted to his officers and men that, we were told, he refused orders that were not backed by adequate equipment and supplies. He was consequently threatened with a court martial and even detained for a while.

Voting out this bigoted, corrupt, incompetent administration is the only hope we have of winning our second civil war. Military strategists from Sun-Tzu to Giap, Monty, Rommel and Zhukov have known that an army is first defeated in the mind before it is routed in battle. We must first win the war of hearts and minds. We must retool the military and redesign doctrine and strategy. We must re-inject new life into our comatose security architecture. Let’s disband the MNJTF and close our borders, including all trucks going to neighbouring countries. We must exercise mastery of the rules of engagement required in asymmetrical warfare. We must mobilise all our capabilities – technology, traditional sciences, communities, economic warfare and mass propaganda. We need a grand strategy.

It’s time we took the war to the enemy instead of being on the defensive. Shadowy foreign powers have operated military training camps along our borders. We should make a list of all their economic interests in Nigeria. All is fair in love and war. We must internationalise our campaign by enlisting help from Israel and Russia. Let’s go for the jugular; deploying technology and total mobilisation of our forces. In the spirit of venerable Obafemi Awolowo, I have worked out a comprehensive strategy to defeat the enemies of Nigeria. But it is not for public consumption.

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