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Runaway Soldiers, Towns Seizure National Embarrassment -APC

By Ayo Balogun

The opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) has faulted the reported fleeing of 480 Nigerian soldiers to Cameroon on Monday, during an attack on a military base in Gamboru-Ngala and the seizure of Nigerian towns,  by the Boko Haram, describing the rage as unprecedented and a national embarrassment.

soldiersIn a statement issued in Lagos on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party called on President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently address Nigerians on the worsening security situation in the Northern part of the country which has allowed the insurgents to proclaim secession and its rule, over a part of the nation’s territory.

It said in the face of the biggest threat to Nigeria’s unity and territorial integrity since the country’s civil war, Mr. President must put partisanship aside and rally the nation against Boko Haram, which APC stated by all indications seemed to be getting bolder and stronger, to such an extent that it was now hoisting its flag over the captured parts.

APC therefore restated its call for an urgent national stakeholders’ conference on security that would cut across party lines to help fashion a solution to what has now become a clear and present danger to the survival of the country, while pledging its support for any sincere effort by the Federal Government to end the insurgency as quickly as possible.

As an immediate measure, the leading opposition called on President Jonathan to immediately halt his ongoing illegal electioneering campaign by his Ministers, other appointees and supporters, maintaining that Nigeria must survive as a nation first before any party or individual can rule over it.

”These campaigns, ostensibly by the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) but in truth being bankrolled by the Federal Government, offends national sensibilities at a time our citizens are being daily slaughtered and our troops are struggling against the terrorists who are bent on balkanizing our nation. Needless to remind Nigerians that over 200 school girls remain missing more than 130 days after they were abducted,” the party stressed, adding: ”The President must put politics aside for now and lead the nation to defeat Boko Haram.”

It charged the military high command and its civilian leadership to stop politicking and initiate ways for the military to live up to its constitutional responsibility of maintaining Nigeria’s territorial integrity.

APC said it was a shame that while the Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro has been “prancing around in Ekiti and Osun states marshaling troops to harass the opposition” during their last governorship polls, Nigeria was losing territory after territories militant group.

In the same vein, the ongoing politicking APC pointed out has reduced some defence chiefs to campaign managers to President Jonathan, an action that it asserted was a clear violation of the military’s professional ethics as well as embroiled the military unnecessarily in politics, at a crucial  time they were expected to be the rallying to the troops against Boko Haram.

”Nigeria has never had it so bad. The country’s military that was being hailed worldwide for its sterling performance at global peacekeeping missions has now reached a level where its troops are deserting, engaging in mutiny or simply unwilling to fight.

”There is no way to spin what happened on Monday, when 480 Nigerian soldiers escaped to Cameroon. The Ministry of Defence called it ‘tactical manoeuvre’, but did not explain how soldiers fighting insurgents along Nigeria’s border with Cameroon will foray 80 kilometres into Cameroon! Also, if the Nigerian troops’ foray into Cameroon was in the spirit of the cooperation between the two countries in the fight against the terrorists, as some spin doctors have said, why were the Nigerian soldiers disarmed and then herded into schools in Maroua, 80kms from the Nigerian border?

”The issue that should agitate the minds of Nigerians now is whether our troops are adequately equipped to battle Boko Haram and, if not, what has happened to the funds allocated for such in the past. As we said in our earlier comments on this issue, between 2010 and 2014, a total of US$14 billion was allocated for defence, security and the police. What has happened to these funds?” queried the party.

APC reasoned instead of blaming the soldiers, Nigerians should ask why the recent alarm by the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, concerning the low morale and lack of necessary fighting equipment by the military was dismissed on the altar of partisanship.


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