One of the retired Generals, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who visited Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on Friday, was said to have voiced out to some of his close associates that he would not mind putting on his military uniform again in the face of the embarrassing declaration of an Islamic state in the North East by Boko Haram amid reports of the terrorists victory over the Nigerian army in several battles in recent days.
Two other former military rulers, among other retired military top shots, it was reliably learnt, have also expressed similar shock to underscore the danger presently assailing the country’s territorial integrity.
Two weeks ago, former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, declared to newsmen that he still had his military uniform at home and would not mind wearing it again to defend the country from the terrorists.
A former ECOMOG airforce chief, retired Air Vice Marshall Mohammed Audu Bida, addressed a press conference on Friday in Abuja, where he blamed the present helpless situation in the North East on what he called the lack of political will to deal with the insurgency.
He called on President Goodluck Jonathan to give orders for an all-out war against Boko Haram in the interest of the country.
“The Nigeria Military is competent, highly skilled, extremely efficient, courageous and well-placed to decisively wipe out these terrorists in one week if only the President will provide the political will to give them orders for an all-out war. The present helpless, hopeless situation the military finds itself is not in anyone’s interest, “ a defence source told Saturday Tribune on Friday.
It was learnt that army top shots converged on Maiduguri, Borno State, on Friday for an on-the spot assessment and to map out a battle plan as they await presidential orders for a full blown war with the insurgents.
Boko Haram last week declared a Caliphate and Sharia law in Gwoza community of Borno State while it drove almost 500 Nigerian soldiers into Cameroun during a hot battle.
Boko Haram’s control of Gwoza town, coming closely on the heels of a similar action by ISIS, a terrorist group which has proclaimed an Islamic state in Iraq, is said to have given it away as being out for a long drawn war with Nigeria.
Saturday Tribune, however, gathered that retired Generals Obasanjo and Babangida had set aside their perceived political differences with President Goodluck Jonathan, with whom they have teamed up to defeat Boko Haram.
It will be recalled that Obasanjo had, on Wednesday, held a closed-door meeting with President Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, where discussions centred on the security situation in the country, particularly the escalating Boko Haram attacks on the military and the nation.
It was further gathered that Obasanjo, on Friday, told his close associates that his desire in seeking an end to the Boko Haram insurgency was borne out of his believe in the sanctity of the Nigerian state, declaring that the country came first over other considerations.
The former president was quoted to have expressed willingness to go back to the army, if necessary, to lead a strategic military action against the sect, as the activities of the deadly group were now threatening the territorial integrity of the country.
A former Minister of Defence, Lieutenant General Theophilus Danjuma (retd), had, at the inauguration of the Presidential Committee on Victims Support Fund in Abuja, also raised concerns that Boko Haram appeared to be winning the insurgency war and called for concerted efforts at defeating the insurgents.
AVM Audu Bida who frowned on “what is going on in the North east,” said that the Nigerian Airforce is capable of dealing with the situation once and for all.
According to him, “it is a sad thing that the terrorists group can hold us to ransom in this country with our capable armed forces, whose exploits in Liberia and Sierra-Leone have remained a world record till today.”
Audu-Bida, quoting figures from local and international agencies like the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Human Rights Watch, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and Internally Displaced Monitoring Centre (IDMC), revealed that an intolerable number of Nigerians were either displaced or were refugees in neighbouring countries.
He noted that as of March this year, close to four million Nigerians were displaced while over 100,000 were recorded as sheltering in refugee camps in Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
Audu-Bida said that this could not be allowed to continue because humanitarian aid agencies were unable to reach these displaced people for fear of being attacked or kidnapped by terrorists, who had no respect for rules of engagement in their operations.
He lamented that the insurgency had been allowed to fester for too long and things had got out of hand, especially with the recent sack of the police mobile training institution in Gwoza, Borno State, declaring that with this, the insurgents will become more emboldened, unless decisive action is taken immediately to wipe them out.
“For the good of millions of Nigerians, the military should take decisive actions now to stop further displacement of Nigerians, destruction of farmlands, lives and property as well as occupying our territory, a situation which has become very embarrassing to Nigerians, the government and the armed forces,” he said.
‘No General being tried’In a related development, military sources on Friday disclosed that no military commander is being tried over challenges in the war, contrary to a report published on Thursday by a section of the media.
The military sources told Saturday Tribune that the report was very embarrassing, and that that section of the media was also compounding the military’s battle against insurgency.
According to the source, “it is sad that some reporters just stay in their offices and concoct stories.” The source revealed that the 480 soldiers who made ‘tactical maneuver’ to Cameroon did so instead of being killed during the exchange of fire.
The source said the 480 soldiers were in Borno State waiting for further directives. The source added that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General K.T.J Minimah left Abuja on Friday for Maiduguri to see the situation of the troops and give further orders.
The source added that the Federal Government was tying all loose ends and would launch a final onslaught against the terrorists, very soon.
Saturday Tribune gathered that the equipment for this operation had started arriving the country and will aid in boosting the morale of the troops.
The source added that the meeting which President Jonathan held with former President Obasanjo during the week, which also centred on the security situation, was also to brief him on the onslaught to be launched and to seek his advice. The source said,” let me tell you, the armed forces is now ready for the final on slaught.”