As a composite architecture of the armed forces and all its constituting elements, the military is a strategic national guardian entrusted with security matters connected with lives and property within the geographic space of a country. The Nigerian Constitution thus provides that ‘subject to an Act of the National Assembly, the federation shall equip and maintain the Armed Forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of defending Nigeria from external aggression, suppressing insurrection, and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so,’ among others.
The Nigerian military did live up to this expectation when, for the first time, it had to deal with a civil war situation, which lasted from 1967 to 1970. Prosecuting the war was not without huge and frightening challenges to the federal government led by General Gowon. The United States of America, for instance, had barred the shipment of arms to Nigeria. To mitigate the obstacles, the federal government looked towards Russia. The Biafrans made deals with Portugal. The Civil War cost both sides $140 million for the purchase of arms only. $140 million in the 1960s.
Nigeria went into the Civil War in 1967 with just about 5000 soldiers in its army. However, just before the war came to an end, Nigeria had well over 250,000 men in its national army, all within the space of 30 months. The government embarked on mass recruitment into the military, and simply overwhelmed Biafra by the sheer number of soldiers who were in the theatre of war. There were federal boots in every available space within recovered territories. The significant point that must be firmly established is that, in going to war, a nation’s military requires both strategic and programmatic approaches.
Nigeria’s situation today is so similar to the Civil War experience. She needs to inundate her space with a near-ubiquitous military presence to make the needful statement against the Boko Haram fighters.
Boots on the ground! Boots everywhere! This is what Nigeria needs now in every contested territory in the Northeast, the Northwest, and elsewhere. A battalion of soldiers in every local government in the Northeast and Northwest will finish the war.
In addition to the need for arms which can be quickly fixed through a pragmatic approach, the war against insurgency has been prolonged by the huge gaps in human power to effectively crush the insurgents. This explains why, for instance, the troops of the Nigerian Army always move on after conquering and recovering territories from the hold of the terrorists. In moving to conquer the next town or community, or in chasing after the terrorists, there has often been security gaps in the towns just recovered, and the insurgents keep finding ways of making the most out of the gaps