January 15th is Armed Forces day in Nigeria and is a day that is supposed to provide an avenue for our citizens to remember those that have fought for this country and in many cases died in the line of duty. It should be a day when we put all our bullshit partisanship, ethnic and religious differences and pay tribute to the Nigerian soldier.
The Nigerian soldier has evolved over the years. Once upon a time the Nigerian soldier was feared by the populace and was seen as the strong man of our society. The Nigerian soldier once ruled the nation and held sway over the course of events in the Nation. The Nigerian soldier fought a civil war and at a time was a major part of peace keeping operations around the world. The Nigerian soldier was in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan. He was the fire extinguisher of the African continent ready and willing to go in and squash any fire. Nowadays the Nigerian soldier has grown old and weak, weakened by his foray into politics and the resulting disarmament and spread of corruption. The once feared Nigerian soldier is now the object of ridicule and pity, no longer feared is he. He who crushed Maitasine is having a hard time crushing Boko Haram. The Nigerian soldier was until recently the pride of the nation and we the citizens could beat our chests and say, toe to toe with any conventional enemy the Nigerian soldier will prevail. Alas we arent in a conventional war but a guerrilla war with the Al-Qaeda of Nigeria and God-willing with the right support, tactics, equipment and motivation the Nigerian soldier will adapt and once again stand tall.
Today and every day I strongly believe we should appreciate our Nigerian Armed forces. It is not easy functioning in a chaotic system like Nigeria’s. It is not easy to fight and sacrifice your life and get nothing but ridicule and disrespect from bloody civilians. It is not easy to do the job of the Armed forces as well as perform the function of police, coast guard, immigration, customs and road safety for that is what we have turned our Armed forces into, a jack of all trade and master of none. Our police need to step up and allow our armed forces focus on what is important. We do not need to see soldiers on the highways. Our armed forces are for wars and not guarding pipelines. Our armed forces should be like rottweilers kept in their cage of the barrack until needed. The Nigerian Armed forces as much as we wont to put the blame on someone is a reflection of the Nigerian society and the support it gets.
It is important to realize that in the current fight with Boko Haram, the Nigerian troops have not received much support from the media, Nigerians and people like me. We sometimes get caught up in our anger over the civilians that die in these attacks that we forget that many soldiers have lost their lives in this tragedy and these are men who have families and children and relations who are suffering from hurt. The soldiers that are dying are somebody’s son, husband, brother, grandson, uncle, nephew. We have become a nation without empathy. I pray that one day the loss of even one Nigerian, soldier or not becomes a tragedy and not the number crunching game it currently is where the less the number dead the better we feel forgetting that a life lost is a life not lived.
I use this opportunity to thank the Nigerian Armed Forces for their service and to condole with the families of those who have been lost in service to this nation. Nigerians are an ungrateful lot but know that there those of us who support you and wish you nothing but success especially in the war against terror because your success is our success. To get peace we need to win the war. Fight on great Nigerian soldiers.
What do you think of our Armed Forces? How can we make it better? Let’s discuss.