FORMER military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, says while it is good to acquire modern weapons to tackle insecurity, the Nigerian military must also be trained on how to use those modern weapons to achieve result.
Speaking in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Hausa service on Sunday, Babangida also said he regularly advises the government on security challenges facing the country, though he does not make noise about it.
Babangida said, “Yes, Nigerian soldiers need modern weapons. They also need to be trained on how to use the modern weapons, not to get the weapons and just hand over to them. They should be trained.”
Speaking on steps taken to help the government overcome the security challenge in the country, the former military president said “we give advice, as much as we can, but we don’t make noise about it. We don’t announce that this is what we say.”
He said it had become necessary for citizens and government to synergise and work together to achieve results.
On whether the politicians are playing the desired role in bringing an end to the insecurity bedevilling the country, Babangida said there were many things that have to get right. “If they agree to sit down and think over it, I believe success will be achieved.
“It is important to rally round the soldiers and other security agencies. We must support them and let them know the citizens are behind them. We must provide them with all they require and let them know this is their country and they have no other country better than this.
“We should unite, we should support those in power. We are all working towards achieving the same goal. Between the leaders and citizens, we need peace and a harmonious relationship.
“This problem of insecurity, every government had its experience. I remember how we fought the civil war for three years. The people supported the government, the government did its best, bought what was necessary and those who fought were made to understand that this country is the best for them.
“It’s not only in Nigeria, many countries encountered this kind of problem, some had it for 10 years but through concerted effort, they are out of it. I believe we can get out of this problem,” he said.
Reacting to IBB’s advice, spokesman for the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed has called on the Federal Government to heed the advice given by the former president, saying, “the advice of President Babangida should be accorded the highest consideration.
“He is not given to advising presidents outside the most confidential settings. The substance of his advice, which acknowledges major deficiency in our military’s capacities is fairly well known, but few persons in his place have addressed them.
“It is an advice that must not be ignored because it reinforces the concerns that our military needs massive injections of additional technical, manpower and other professional requirements if it is to shoulder the increasing burdens it is being asked to shoulder.
“There are other related matters that should also be addressed. The need to re-invent policing and related agencies that should deal with internal security challenges is a major and urgent priority. So is corruption in all our defence, security and law and order institutions.
“There are major issues with our country’s ability to procure weapons that our leadership is aware of.
“They must be addressed. We are talking about the foundations of our very existence as a country here, and the fact that leaders of the calibre of President Babangida are raising issues around them should alert the country over threats and our abilities to deal with them.”