While reviewing Nigerian Army’s performance in the security of the just concluded general elections in Nigeria, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya, gave his troops a deserving pat on the back for job well done.
The successful conduct of the general election across the country, including the South East region despite the sense of insecurity created by criminal elements, according to him, was a testament to Nigerian Army’s resolve to ensure security in the entire nation.
The Army Chief spoke at the opening ceremony of the Chief of Army Staff First Quarter Conference 2023 in Abuja, a quarterly event that provides opportunity for the Army Chief to rub minds with his principal officers and commanders.
He noted that the satisfactory performance of the Army was made possible through successful conduct of Operation Safe Conduct 2023 across the country which saw the Nigerian Army along with other services and agencies ensuring successful elections. In his words, “Our additional efforts through Joint Task Force Operation Udoka paid off in the south east thus ensuring successful elections in the region as well, even though long before the actual elections, IPOB/ESN and their supporters has threatened that there would be no elections in the zone.
“Elections were therefore held in the south east and successfully too, just like other parts of the country. Generally, our operations and decisive actions against the criminal elements have impacted positively on the security situation in the country, giving confidence to law abiding citizens in the south east”.
You cannot in all honesty fault the General for his assertions nor begrudge him for giving the Army a pass mark in that particular national assignment. If you put many factors under considerations or compare the conduct and operations of soldiers before, during and after the election with some other security agencies, you will most definitely acknowledge that the Army has the bragging rights.
Yes, pockets of violence and sundry security infractions were reported in a number of polling stations in a number of states, especially Lagos, Rivers and Kano states but those ugly incidents cannot be blamed on the Army. Their remit was not to police the polling units; that role was carved out for the lead agency in 2023 General Election. The lead agency is the Nigerian Police Force.
In fact, if not that politicians have somehow turned our elections into war, the military has no business in what ordinarily should be a civil affair. However, in the circumstance we found ourselves, the Nigerian military were detailed to provide complementary roles to the Nigerian Police for election security. In this role, troops of the Nigerian Army were deployed to man the outer periphery of our elections scenes. What this means is that the military were not part of the security arrangement at the polling units or even at the collation centres. It was the Nigerian Police that had that responsibility.
So, whatever blames for whatever reported security infractions in some states during the elections should be put squarely at the Police. Of course there were video clips where police men stood hands akimbo while political thugs run wild.
The limited and well defined role of the Army in election security includes deploying troops in areas with high level security threats that could affect the electoral process. In some parts of the South East where IPOB threatened to not allow elections hold and some parts of the north where Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorism and banditry were rife, the ubiquitous presence of troops of the Nigerian Army was all it took to boost the moral and provide more than enough encouragement to people to go and exercise their franchise as free citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Overall, the conduct and operations of the Nigerian Army in the just concluded general elections are well acknowledged by the people and like young netizens say, the Army deserve their flowers.
By Chidi Omeje