Even in a country such as Nigeria that has become accustomed bad news and frictions of the inter-ethnic, inter-religious and inter-party dimensions are nothing new, there are strong indications that there is a serious, though not yet overt, power struggle going on in the county.
Though I’m not one of those who usually believe in “prophesies”, especially coming from the crop of the so-called men of God parading themselves in the country today, a well-known “prophet” in the country made a couple of predictions in his New Year's prophesies for the country earlier this year.
Among the things he foretold were a major shake-up in the topmost hierarchy of the Nigerian military and a cabinet reshuffle of some significance among others. Some of those events, as we all know, have come and gone and the rest, they say, is history.
Also in the list of his “prophesies” was a coup at Aso Rock. It will please me at this point to reemphasize that I’m not one of those who are easily swayed by these so-called prophesies, but the current volatile polity and the accuracy of some of his predictions, has left me with little choice than to put some of these things into serious considerations. This was not the first time such a prediction will be made. Some years back, a related prediction – or warning – attributed to a highly-credible foreign intelligence agency warned of a possible disintegration of the country in 2015 or thereabout. Should things remain status quo or get worse, such predictions should no longer be dismissed with a wave of the hand.
Recently, news of frictions in the top hierarchy of Nigeria’s military division have been filtering in steadily into various national prints. There was a report carried by a privately-owned radio station not too long ago about some high-ranking army generals who are said to be benefiting financially from the state of emergency imposed in three of the country’s North-eastern states. In the same revelation by a man who claimed to be an ex-military insider, some of these generals have commissioned their boys to sabotage the efforts of their comrades in their march against the Boko Haram insurgents.
Critically-analyzed, there might be an element of truth in it. It beggars belief that a military as large, sophisticated, tested and trusted as Nigeria’s will find it difficult to crush what a foreign intelligence agent described as a ragtag group of insurgents not numbering more than a few hundreds for over 4 years. This is a group, according to him, that cannot be compared to the likes of Somalia’s Al-Shabab militants who staged a sophisticated 48-hour hostage crisis at Kenya’s upmarket Westgate shopping mall last year. All they’ve been able to do is to carry out attacks on soft targets like motor parks, churches and secondary schools. They don’t even have a negotiator who has a good understanding of the English language, unlike their Somalian counterparts. Now, how have they been able to withstand the military might of the largest economy on the Black Continent – the adulated giant of Africa?
Earlier this year, some elders in the north-eastern axis of the country reportedly claimed to have seen on numerous occasions helicopters dropping food and utilities to these insurgents. They have also been said to move in convoys mimicking that of government and military officials which sometimes serve as a Trojan horse to enable them get past tight security. Now, this is the same ragtag Boko Haram we are talking about. How did they procure the services of a chopper (or possibly choppers)? How come they are often more prepared and armed than members of the military in most of their combats, as confessed by the soldiers themselves? How were they able to launch an attack on an air force base in Borno state earlier in the year and destroy some expensive fighter jets?
It is clearly not the best of times in the military. Evident of the deep crack in the Nigerian military is the news of a military mutiny in Borno state that surfaced online on Wednesday afternoon. In one of the reports, “the restive soldiers complained that their superior have not provided them with adequate weaponry with which to fight the war against the better-armed Boko Haram militants.” Being ill-equipped might just be one of the issues or a symptom of a much bigger issue.
Many well-meaning Nigerians were not comfortably with the sudden dismissal of the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Azubuike Ihejirika, who succeed to a commendable extent in curbing the insurgency. The subsequent appointment of a Major-General as the new Chief of Army Staff and the consequential retirement of his superiors did not go down well with some. Ever since these events, the country has witnessed a sevenfold increase in the frequency and magnitude of attacks by the dreaded fundamentalists.
Up to this moment, the whereabouts of the missing Chibok girls is yet to be ascertained and insinuations have it that there is more to the abduction of these schoolgirls than meets the eye.