By Bala Ibrahim.
About somedays ago, Nigerians received shocking reports of the massacre of scores of security operatives, including soldiers and police at a mining site in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State.
According to reports, at least 43 people, including 30 soldiers, seven mobile police personnel, and civilians were killed, when armed men stormed the Gold mining site, abducting many people, including several Chinese nationals.
The Nigerian Army was quick to confirm the sad story, through a statement issued by its Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, who said, “The troops of the Nigerian Army, deployed in Shiroro general area, responded to a distress call of bandits attack people operating a mining site.
En-route the location, the troops ran into an ambush, staged by the criminal elements. Sadly, a number of personnel paid the supreme price in the fierce firefight that ensued. Subsequently, the location has been reinforced and troops are on the trail of the criminals with some already neutralized”.
The statement added that the GOC 1 Division, has moved to the location, to take charge of the follow-up operations.
Piqued by what happened, some people began posting the images of the victims on social media, including the soldiers killed, the action of which seems to have angered the Nigerian Army the more, compelling it to issue another statement, decrying such postings on the social media.
The press statement signed by the same Brigadier General, Onyema Nwachukwu reads,
“Some clips of the incident have surfaced online and we wish to encourage well-meaning Nigerians to exercise some restraint in posting images of such occurrence, mindful that our brothers and sisters who may have lost their breadwinners deserve to be properly notified and not to get such information via the media. We mention this, mindful of the inalienable rights of citizens to use the social media which is respected”.
But if the Nigerian Army is calling on people to be mindful that our brothers and sisters, who may have lost their breadwinners deserve to be treated with respect, methinks the top echelon of the Army also needs a reminder of the idiom, respect begets respect.
The ambition of the idiom is to alert our conscience to the fact that, what you send out from the core of your heart, in the form of thoughts and emotions, will result in the return of similar circumstances of thoughts and emotions you. If you send out respectful thoughts, respect from others will come back to you.
By the muffled message from the Army, of the upper command, directing only the GOC 1 DIV, to move to the location and take charge of the follow-up operations, I think the public, particularly the families of the victims, who have, as rightly observed, lost their breadwinners, have not been treated with reciprocal respect.
The Army ought to do better and make the public see that something better is being done.
30 soldiers were killed in one go, at a time the Nigerian Army is celebrating its 159 years of existence, under the Nigerian Army Day celebration, and the Chief of Army Staff cannot cancel all engagements and move there, even if on the day of the burial?
It may not be right to accuse the Army of being insensitive, but it would not be wrong to say that they have not shown enough pity and tenderness, to those that have sacrificed their today, for our own tomorrow.
Yes, PMB had described the massacre as a direct assault on Nigeria, vowing that the attackers would not go unpunished, saying the government would do everything possible to ensure the return of those abducted. But looking at the frequency of the occurrence of such horrific attacks, alongside the fact that the president has been talking with such tough language repeatedly without results, one is tempted to ask, whether the authorities really know the latitude and location of the long hands of the law. There seems to be a disconnect somewhere.
Certainly, something is wrong with Nigeria’s national security under Monguno, which the President does not understand or does not want to understand. And posterity may not necessarily be kind to the two of them when it comes to unveiling its findings on them.
On the President, it may accuse him of being a weakling commander in chief, which was ineffectual in the sanctioning of subordinates. Because, retaining the same NSA for nearly eight years, under whose watch national security is progressively going worse, is certainly a sign that something is wrong somewhere.
About two months ago, the Nation newspaper wrote and I quote:
“Last Thursday, members of the House of Representatives, while vehemently proposing that the National Assembly be shut down to force President Muhammadu Buhari to wake up to his responsibility of ensuring the protection of life and property in Nigeria, asked a question that has been on the lips of millions of Nigerians for months now.
Many of the legislators who spoke on what they described as the terrible state of security across the country, demanded to know the whereabouts of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd).
Some even rhetorically wondered whether he had resigned his position. Eventually, a lawmaker called for the resignation or sacking of Monguno, saying he should have been fired along with the last set of service chiefs. Emotions ran high in the chamber during the extended debate on growing insecurity in the country”.
It is now almost four months since the attack on the Kaduna-bound train from Abuja, in which armed bandits killed at least eight persons and kidnapped many. The suspicion is that the train victims are being held somewhere in the same axis, where the Army and Police are now massacred.
Please, the C in C and the military need to act more, beyond sending mere muffled and meaningless messages.