Restoring sanity in the armed forces

letterSir: A tsunami has swept through the rank and file of the Nigerian Armed Forces and in one fell swoop, officers who were involved in one crime or the other, ranging from arms procurement scandal, financial misappropriation, and electoral malpractice in the past were relieved of their duties and retired unceremoniously. This is the first time in the history of our democracy that we are having no fewer than 60 army officers being purged out from the service.

The news didn’t come as a surprise to many considering the fact that our gallant officers, like vultures stripping the flesh of a dying man, threw the ethics of their profession to the wind and perfected an undemocratic impunity at the behest of politicians of the old corrupt political order.

The probe panels set up by the government and anti-graft agencies have been unearthing the political pot of corruption they buried during the last regime of asphyxiating corruption and are being purged. Though it’s been lauded as a right step in restoring the confidence and professionalism of our armed forces, which the institution is reputed for in past years, one pertinent question we should be asking is: what is the government doing to avoid a repeat in future? Those officers may have lost their jobs for total disregard for democratic norms and unprofessional conduct in the discharge of their duties but we shouldn’t be blind to the fact they never acted in isolation, they were strictly acting on orders, which was near impossible at that time.

It does not just end in purging the system because the institution is designed in such a way that it can easily be influenced by the pettiness in the political pot. It goes beyond probing and finding some officers guilty and relieving them of their duties.

President Buhari might have restored sanity in the once revered institution by this act but it doesn’t guarantee a recurrence in the future. What we have in the person of President Buhari is a strong-willed man, but we don’t need a strong man to get things right, what we need are strong institutions. Until we promulgate and enforce laws that will make our security agencies to be independent of the executive as practised in saner climes, I don’t see an institution that waits to get orders from the presidency before carrying out its primary duties from being free of what those dismissed army officers were found guilty of.
Joe Onwukeme,

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