There is rising tension among the hierarchy of the Nigerian military as fears continue to spread of an imminent rebellion among soldiers.
According to the Punch who spoke to four senior officers, including a Major General, learned that many of the soldiers, especially those at the war front, had been showing signs of agitation over the inability of the military high command to provide them with weapons and adequate welfare.
One of the officers said: “I can tell you without mincing words that many of us, officers, are afraid because the soldiers can revolt anytime from now. You will recall that some soldiers of the 21 Brigade in Sambisa Forest last year went on the rampage, revolting against their superiors.
“Such rebellion only happens when the officers lose the trust of their men. The soldiers have been complaining about lack of weapons and welfare but their demands are being ignored. Always remember that whenever there is an attack, if 40 soldiers are killed, only two officers will be affected. This is because the soldiers are the ones at the battlefront.
“If they feel they are being led to their death, they will rather revolt and save themselves rather than die. As it is, we are fearful of what may happen. We don’t want a Bangladeshi Rifle Revolt in Nigeria like it happened in 2009 in Bangladesh where soldiers killed 57 officers.”
A major general told Punch that apart from the lack of weapons, the military was losing the anti-insurgency war due to two principal reasons — strategy and lack of synergy among the service chiefs.
The source alleged that there was disunity among the service chiefs which was beginning to affect the fight against terror.
“The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. (Abayomi) Olonishakin, has no control over the service chiefs. He summons meetings and the service chiefs don’t come.
“The indiscipline has reached a level that the service chiefs now bypass the CDS and the Minister of Defence and write letters directly to the President. The service chiefs even attended Mr President’s campaign launch recently. This is not the military I (have) spent 33 years serving. You don’t break the chain of command,” he said.
The senior military officer said the service chiefs had become lords unto themselves and were not open to alternative views.
He added: “On several occasions during our security meetings, if you bring up an alternative view, you become an easy target for those in power. These service chiefs have stayed for too long and are now bereft of new ideas.
“From the order we were given, Boko Haram is not supposed to occupy an inch of Nigeria’s territory. The strategy they decided to use was to spread our men thinly across the border so that we can boast that no territory is under Boko Haram.
“What we should have done is to allow Boko Haram have a particular territory which we can identify and then we would unite our men on one front and form a wall. We would then attack the insurgents head on. Our men are just being killed because they are thinly spread.”