The out gone Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, is reported to be looking outside the high command for explanations regarding the abysmal failure of the military under his watch to effectively check the menace of the terrorist group, Boko Haram. Among other factors, he drew the whipping boys of failed public officers and the media, in the blame game. In the process, he succeeded in confirming already established fact that he failed to rise to the challenges of his office as the man in command and control.
When Boko Haram struck, particularly with the kidnap of the Chibok Girls, the military high command of which he was one was caught clay-footed and lacking in the immediacy of response to such situations. The precision for which the military is famous, was in this instances lacking. It took them months to even accept that Boko Haram posed a threat to the nation’s security. When eventually they made up their minds to attack, the attempt was feeble and half-hearted. While the terrorists were mobilising and inching deep into the country, taking over towns and villages, the top echelon of the military establishment was busy bickering and wearing itself out in inter service rivalry.
Even worse was the reports of corruption at the high command level that dissipated the available resources that would have been used to counter the terrorists. The rank and file watched as their commanders executed the campaign as a business enterprise rather than the complex military operation that it was and still is. Emphasis by these commanders was more on how much of the budget was in their pockets. For Badeh and others, the campaign against Boko Haram was their own ‘season’ for self-enrichment. They replicated in the military what was going on among the political class.
Therefore, for the out gone chief of defence staff to turn round as he exits after a 38 year career to blame the media for the inadequacies, obvious incompetence of the high command and its inevitable failures is, in our opinion, unfortunate. Boko Haram is not a media creation. That terrorist group gained ascendancy as a result of the inability of the military to exercise the flexibility the public expected of it. That can never be blamed on the media. Journalists are not known to be in the position to call soldiers to duty. They merely reported what was on ground in the execution of their function as the society’s watchdog.
The media at some point in the fight against Boko Haram, and in an unusual act of self-censorship, decided to shut out the terrorists and played up the little successes the military were able to record under Badeh. If he lacks the humility to accept this and say thank you to his compatriots who rose in his defence in a moment of distress, at least he should be truthful enough to exclude them from factors that hampered his operations.