The last may not have been heard about fighting troops of the Nigerian Army resigning their appointments, after the 380 that dumped the service last week, citing loss of interest, as many more are alleged to have indicated their decisions to also exit, citing the same reason.
Military sources told Saturday INDEPENDENT in Abuja, that there was so much disenchantment among the fighting troops following the turn of events at the front line.
All these are happening as the Boko Haram insurgents and the Islamic States of the West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters, appear to be gaining grounds, especially in the North East, while bandits hold sway in the North West and North Central, amid pockets of other security challenges in Southern Nigeria.
A close look at those resigning, showed that they are the Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and the other ranks in the army, who mostly constitute the fighting troops.
Top military sources said these crops of troops are presently very disenchanted by their experiences at the front line, which over the years have left little to be desired.
Already, those that resigned cut across different formations and Units, serving as a very bad signal to others and a pointer that all was not well in the Nigerian Army.
Just last week, it was reported that the soldiers wrote to the Chief of Army Staff, (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, on July 3, 2020, under Reference NA/COAS/001, quoting the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service soldiers/rating/airmen (Revised) 2017.
Their request for voluntary disengagement as approved was contained in a 17-page circular from Buratai, AHQ DOAA/G1/300/92, signed by Brig Gen T.E. Gagariga for the COAS.
Headquarters, Theatre Command, Operation Lafiya Dole, Borno State, the Headquarters of 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 81, and 82 Divisions of the Nigerian Army and other formations, were said to have received the document.
A military source told our Correspondent that, “Most of them want to leave, but they are denying them the opportunity, using excuses to delay them and pulling them out of dead zones.
“Many soldiers will like to die for their fatherland if the right things are done,” the source stated.
A foremost security analyst and Public Relations Practitioner, well familiar among the security services, who just preferred anonymity, told our Correspondent that the army had ignored every entreaty to do it right with troops at the frontline, banking on propaganda and lies.
“It’s bad. You can sensor narratives, but you can’t lie. When you start lying, you lose your credibility. I have been telling them.
“The problem with the military is that the soldiers realised that they have been sacrificing for nothing, the military does not care, the system has failed .”
The analyst cited lack of trustworthy leadership as the major challenge in the ongoing war, saying that most of the troops no longer have confidence or respect for their commanders, causing them to lose hope.
It added that the troops were not happy with the over staying of some commanders in the theatre, especially those that were inflicting pains on them, as well as the continuous stay in office of the COAS, General Buratai.
It further said that most of those troops were not happy that they have overstayed in a dead zone, signaling that they were dumped there to face their fate, while some of their colleagues were granted respite.
The source said that the troops, in view of their overstay at the front line, suffered health trauma, and lose mental alertness, as they continue to see the corpses of their colleagues rolled in from time to time.
It further said that lack of motivation has brought upon them a low morale, since they are fighting a war that they don’t understand, with many of them complaining that the very locals they were there to protect, were the same associates of Boko Haram and ISWAP, serving as informants to the terrorists against them.
Consequently, since there were no respites for them by the Army Headquarters, the only way left to them now was to apply for voluntary disengagement, at least as covered under extant rules, rather than running away and being tagged deserters.
However, a top army commander, who himself, has remained in the North East theatre for over four years now, dismissed the retiring troops as cowards and failures.
The Colonel, who did not want his name mentioned, wondered how these soldiers were enlisted into the army, saying that they never had interest in the service from the beginning.
He claimed that the lack of jobs in the country must have propelled their enlisting in the army, stressing that their interests were the welfare packages, salaries and allowances they could get.
The Colonel insisted to our Correspondent that no true soldier would take the steps these disengaging ones were taking, knowing full well the kind of profession they were called into.
He said a true soldier, no matter what, even unto death, would stay at his post, forward ever, backward never.
“To resign from the army is cowardice. No matter the challenges, as they are presently, a true soldier will stoop to conquer.
“I have been in the North East for four years now, and I am still here. I love the army and I am doing the job happily, no matter the challenges ahead.
“As many cowards that have also lost interests are free to go, so that there can be space for true soldiers to be enlisted.”
He said this must have informed the decision of the COAS to approve their disengagement requests without looking back.
Our Correspondent sought the position of the Army Headquarters on this issues but it was not forthcoming.
Colonel Sagir Musa, the Director of Army Public Relations, (DAPR), was contacted, but he said he had no comment on it.
When pressured to speak, he told our Correspondent, “talk to the Defense Headquarters. Thank you.”
He was however reminded that the issues in question were administrative, within his purview, as the DHQ handled basically operations issues, but he would not confirm.
It was clear that barely few days after the reports of the soldiers’ resignation, there was a major shakeup in the army that replaced top commanders and officers across the country, especially in the North East theatre of operations.