The Glory of the Nigerian Armed Forces and the Doctrine of Pax Nigeriana
By Japhil Yila
On the 11th November 2022, the Nigerian Military won an award for the Best Land Force in National Defence in Africa 2021/2022. The award was presented to the Nigerian Military at the 17th Africa Security Watch Conference Award in Banjul, Gambia. Coming from Gambia, that was not surprising, for they still remembered the 12th January of 2017, the time the Nigeria government stationed an army battalion that would be deployed to the troubled Gambia to forcefully remove and chase away President Yahya Jammeh from power should he refused to step down for Adama Barrow who had already won the polls in 1st December, 2016.
That came as a result of Yahya’s changed of mind to challenge the outcome of the election after he had initially accepted defeat and congratulated Barrow. But you see, the fear of Nigerian troops is the beginning of wisdom, and every recalcitrant African leader knows that. He bowed. The Gambians did not and would never forget such celebrated threat played by the Nigeria military.
However, before that, the Nigeria military magnum opus external intervention was in Liberia when Samuel Doe, an ethnic of Krahn stole the presidential elections of 1985 and established a totalitarianism and massive corruption affiliated Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia [INPFL] a splinter faction of the original National Patriotic Force of Liberia led by Prince Yormie Johnson.
Doe’s personal and loyal soldiers, all Krahn’s dominated the Armed Forces of Liberia [AFL] engaged in bloody reprisals against real and suspected opponents, targeting mostly Gios and Manos tribes. This tribal atrocity set the stage for the country’s civil war. Charles Taylor and the NPFL who were mostly Gio and Mano boys orphaned by the killings took to the streets.
Few weeks into 1990, a ruthless campaign of killing, burning villages, raping women and looting were witnessed and over 700,000 fled the country. Well, the fracas led to the death of over 200,000 lives, which eventually led to the involvement of the ECOWAS and the UN with Nigeria having the highest number of soldiers; 5000!
In August 1990, the 16 members ECOWAS deployed a joint military intervention force, Economic Community Monitoring Group or Economic Community Cease-fire Monitoring Group [ECOMOG] which was led by Nigeria military officers who succeeded in establishing an interim government therein. Whilst in Liberia, on the 25th May, 1997, the elected civilian government in Sierra-Leone, headed by Ahmed Tejah Kabbah was overthrown in a military coup d’ tat led by Major Johnny Paul Koroma.
So, while exiling in Guinea, Kabbah pleaded with Nigeria for rescue. In response, Nigeria under the Late Abacha dispatched military troops based in Liberia to the Leoneans capital Freetown to restore the country to status quo against rebels, The Revolutionary United Front [RUF] controlled and led by Foday Sankoh who parlayed with Johnny Koroma who led the Armed Forces Ruling council to Freetown and eventually overthrew Kabbah. The RUF had been waging a 6 years, then, war of brutality against all successive government in the country.
Within the range of almost the same period, Nigeria Military had been deployed to foster peace in South Africa, Rwanda, Cosmos, Cote d’ Ivoire, Togo, Darfur, Somalia, Congo, Nigeria-Cameroon border conflict, Chadic-Nigeria conflict, Mali and Sao Tome Principle in what was coined ‘’ concert of powers’’ and ‘axis of virtue’ relationship with Nigeria. But, interestingly, Nigeria Military intervention dates way back to the 1942-45, when it took recognition during WW2. With time, it became more pronounced in 1965, India-Pakistan war, 1978, Lebanon civil war, 1988, Iran- Iraq gulf war, and later Yugoslavia war.
Internally, and shortly after independence, the Nigeria Military played a vital role in fighting to keep this headless Nigeria as one against the Biafrians agitation and foresight; sadly though, just few months after the assassination of Major General Aguiyi Ironsi, Colonel Ojukwu was heard screaming, that over 3000 Igbos were killed in the North, with over 1000 in Kano, 670 in Zaria, the rest in Jos etc. when the killings was progressing in a proportion of crescendo, Ojukwu gave birth to the Republic of Biafra. However, the Nigeria military slapped him and destroyed that sweet dream.
What about the role they played during the Maitatsine in the Northern Nigeria? The cult group known as Maitatsine, ‘ he who damn’ or ‘he who curse’ was founded by Mohammed Marwa, a Cameroonian residing in Kano- a radical preacher par excellence who indoctrinated a lot of gullible into rejecting and cursing western education and eventually succeeded in masterminding that deadly riot in Kano 18th December, 1980 where over 4000 people, mostly members of the sect called ‘ yantatsine’ reportedly killed including himself.
The military gave them the taste of the stew they cook! The insurgency spilled over to Maiduguri, Yola and Gombe but the military handled them well. After a long time, one of the disciple named Musa Makaniki, an indigene of Gombe resurrected the supposed buried cult and raked havoc in Yola and Gombe in 1985, and as usual, the military crushed the sect until 25 years or thereabout later when the ghost rose again. Not forgetting the role they played in the Niger-Delta anti piracy campaign, Boko Haram, the North-west banditry terrorism and the IPOB.
Historically, the Nigerian Armed Forces is a process, a serial metamorphic collision from then, Royal West African Frontier Force during the Colonial Regime to the trimmed and more advance at independence, sharp and determined through Yakubu, Murtala, Aremu, Shagari, Buhari, Babangida, Abacha, Abdulsalam, to some arguable extent Aremu again, to pop the lid, Yar’adua, to flip it, Ebele, to cry blood Buhari again! The man who succeeded in turning the then ‘sharp and determined military’ into bunch of dolphins!
No regime enjoys the privileges of enhancing the military like this one; all the military needs are acquisition of firepower to include new armoured vehicles, combat aircraft, aerial reconnaissance drones and the refurbishing of naval vessels owing to the senseless huge monies spent on security. But what do we have now, a military that suffers from poor maintenance, selfish interest ranging from that fear of the military interest to massive corruption and personal interest, and blatant disregard to the security and welfare of the masses.
The once powerful military was gradually reduced to toy story; their rubbishing began with the fear of a coup entertained by the civilian Obasanjo, to the careless Jonathan and today, to the blind, ‘I don’t give a damn’ Buhari; you see, this is one leader that deliberately or unconsciously maintained a blind eye regarding the status of the NAF. Because of political and personal vendetta, these leaders used the military for actualizing their aims and objectives against what they were created to perform.
And as a result, put thousands of them exterminated in the North-east, especially Yobe and Maiduguri, and on daily basis, Zamfara and neighbourings. We hope the next government would work toward reviving our military to its past glory. The Gambians and the rest of the world may see our military-an enviable outfit, but how can they be told, our military are just living on past glory?
The Glory of the Nigerian Armed Forces and the Doctrine of Pax Nigerian