Monday, 6 July 2015
Our military runs like a municipal govt — Enahoro, ex-Army chief
By Bashir Adefaka
Major-General David Olanrewaju Enahoro, a former Commandant, Command and Staff College, Jaji, retired in 2002 as Chief of Policy and Plans, Army Headquarters. Before then, he served as Director, Military Training, Nigerian Defence Academy; Directing Staff, Director and Acting Commandant, National War College. Born on May 2, 1947 in Uhonmora-Ora, in Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State, Enahoro, an alumnus of University of Benin and a holder of University of“Ibadan Master of Science Degree in Strategic Studies; has been guest lecturer and external examiner to the National War College and National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, and is a“recipient of Fellow (fwc) and Member (mni) of both institutions. In an one hour forty-five minutes interview at his farm centre in Uhonmora-Ora, Edo State, he spoke on issues bordering on security with particular emphasis on restoring the integrity of the military and the police. Excerpts:“
Gen EnahoroLet me start by asking you about your military career?
I had a management career, post command….What I am trying to say is that I commanded from platoon to the infantry corps. I also served as staff officer from adjutant through brigade major in a brigade to Colonel HQ, Colonel GS in a division. I ended up as Chief of Policy and Plans at Army Headquarters. And I was a senior instructor in jungle warfare, combat survival at Jaji at the time we started a special warfare course.
You mean counter terrorism course? What year was that?
We started a course in counter terrorism as far back as 1982.
You mean you had started preparing for counter terrorism even at a time it wasn’t so much an issue in Nigeria?
Then why does it look like we have problems in Nigeria because we don’t plan ahead?“From 1982, we started special warfare course, combat survival course, desert warfare course, jumbo warfare course, mountain warfare course and amphibious course, which we now transferred to Calabar. If you put all these together, you see the need for counter terrorism because we were preparing for force people scenario. We had learned from the crisis in Kano caused by Maitasine in 1980 which spread to Bulunkutu in the North East where General Muhammadu Buhari as General Officer Commanding (GOC), Third Armoured Division, Jos, at that time flushed them out. We started a counter terrorism stream and we were running about three courses every year.“I went back to that same Jaji as Deputy Commandant and later I became the Commandant. And by the time I was leaving Jaji in 2000, the counter terrorism course was still running!
At that time, what rank?
I was a major general.
And the same Staff College Jaji that this counter terrorism course was offered was where Boko Haram fighters chose to attack in recent years. How do you feel about that?
Very sad! But one thing I know about terrorists is that they strike hard to frighten. So, I was not surprised that they decided to go into the heart of counter terrorism training, but if they did that too, we have ourselves to blame for some reasons. At a stage, I saw everybody wanting to go for counter terrorism training. The police, the SSS, the Navy; even cadets were being given counter terrorism training and I was wondering what was happening to the nation.
Is there anything wrong with that?
No, if you give out counter terrorism training then, of course, terrorists will attempt to hit, particularly if they are trained terrorists because they want to say, `Oh, you are just“wasting your time.’ And that is exactly what I thought happened.
So, are you trying to say some of these terrorists were home grown people who received training from Jaji and who, therefore, had known the art of counter terrorism and were trying to black the efforts of the military at curtailing terror.
It is possible because I am not aware that there was any attempt to streamline the selection process. I am not too sure because everybody went there….
(Cut in) …to receive a training that should have been restricted to the Army?
There is no basis, no need for it because we have enough trained counter terrorism soldiers to handle the situation and, up till now, I still think we can deal with the situation.
Where do you do you want President Buhari to start the war against terror from? Is the war winnable?
We can win the war. We can make the nation a safe place. I am not saying we can eradicate terrorism all together but we can put it in check. As a matter of fact, the way the Boko Haram situation came in, the terrorists went into what we call ‘open offensive’ too early, and that would have been the time for the military to hit at this tide because, at that time, nobody was against the involvement of the military. The people prematurely went into open offensive.
Why we did not take it as a civil war at that stage and handle it like any other war, I do not know, I cannot tell because I am no longer in service and so I do not know what informed or what influenced the so-called lackadaisical approach in the Army. But if you ask me, I will say that I saw some rivalry, I saw a design by some people to make a name. Of course the police would say, `We are on top of the situation.’
The Army would tell you, We are on top of the situation. The DSS would tell you, `We are on top of the situation. Anybody you discussed with would say, `We are on top of the situation.’ And a few I met from time to time I asked, `Which situation are you on top of? So, it is winnable and I am sure President Buhari has not taken a strong step at winning the war.“When Buhari said in his inauguration speech that he was relocating the military high command to Maiduguri, I was shocked.
Why the shock? You mean he shouldn’t have relocated the military high command to the centre of the storm?
Let me land. I now asked myself, `Does it mean there was no high command to coordinate the operations there and there are people saying we are fighting terrorism? You have a situation where you read from papers that at least there is a Division, 7 Division, operating from Maiduguri. There is a Division, Three Mechanised Division, supporting it and operating from Jos. We know that there is a Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) comprising forces from Niger, Cameroon, Chad,“Nigeria operating there. We know that the Army was operating, the Navy operating, the Air Force operating. You mean there was no coordinating centre?
That is what Buhari’s statement means. And it means that we had been fighting Boko Haram without direction! Buhari confirmed that we really didn’t know what fighting in a theatre entails. You can be a fantastic soldier at a platoon level, at a company level, at a battalion level without knowing a thing about theatre operation because it has to do with what we call the ‘operational order’. But that order ought to flow from a concept of operation that should come from that high command, which will get field intelligence and access to the policy of the political class that“could relate with the headship of all the elements right there. Only in that way can you fight a coordinate battle.
I thought somebody would come out, after President Buhari such thing in his speech, to say, `Your Excellency, we have such command'; only for me to now hear the Chief of the Naval Staff speak on the television saying, `We will now give a thought.’ You will give a presidential order a thought?
Should the response of the military have been that they would give a presidential order a thought or that they swing into action without querying the order?
That `we will give a presidential order a thought,’ if that was what the Chief of the Naval Staff meant, it means admitting that they didn’t have one such command already on the ground. Are you excited? So, now we know that they are trying to put up one but I am worried.
I hope nobody will bastardise the concept of military high command. I hope nobody will turn the military high command to another budgetary outfit. I hope so because this is a place where they should do intelligence analysis, analysis of area of operation, come up with concept of operation and give operational directives.
That is the only way these Boko Haram people would hit, stay there for hours and nobody could respond because we do not have a coordinated centre. So, Buhari has started well. As for whether he will recall people like me, it is not so essential because there are people he can call upon. But he should be able to identify the pseudo-professionals and separate them from the professionals. So, I know that President Buhari, being a man that I know his principles, knows who to call and when to call the people but he should be keen in those who know. War against terror is fought principally at three levels: locating, responding and follow-up. To simplify that, counter terrorists are those we call trackers.
They are called trackers because the moment you see a terrorist, till you capture or destroy him, you give him no respite. And until you do that, you will be doing nothing because they hit and run. When they run, you pursue them. I heard the Chief of the Army Staff saying they had tracking dogs at a time. It means that these dogs could follow in an operation. If there is a terrorist running, you use the dogs to pursue.“In 1970, when I was in School of Infantry in Britain, we went on an operational exercise and we had to go with helicopter tracking insurgents for three days. That was a School of Infantry. That gives us an idea of what it entails. But here I don’t know whether they are even using the helicopters that we claim we have for tracking. I think we are using our helicopters as bombers.
Admiral Murtala Nyako, a former governor of Adamawa, said he saw a military helicopter supplying items to people inside a bush he believed to be terrorists and that he advanced towards the place and that the military people warned him against that, which was how his problem started. Do you think it is possible there is a collaboration between unscrupulous elements within the military and the terrorists which has frustrated the effort of the government towards winning the war?
Terrorism or insurgency is one operation from which you cannot rule out anything. But I don’t want to believe that a Nigerian military helicopter could be used to drop arms and ammunition for terrorists. But I am worried that we still have not been able, up till now, to know the source of their armaments. I am worried!
Nyako just said, upon his return from self-exile, that he would provide information to President Buhari government, which will help him to track the terrorists. Is it that we lack the political will to find out?
The political will will flow from professional advice. Whether we get the appropriate advice on which to base the will is a different thing. Because the way I see it, we see the equipment“displayed by the military on television and on the pages of newspapers. What I see them display are basically equipment used at one time or the other by Nigerian Army. I have not seen anything that“they are displaying that seems to me to be new invention they are bringing from anywhere.“But again I am not surprised that that has happened because in this country; we have seen three different types of war. Military barracks raided and equipment carted away.
We have read severally of police“stations raided and equipment carted away. So, they may indeed be using our equipment against us. Would we know how much of it was really carted away especially when they attacked a whole brigade“headquarters, when they took over a regiment of artillery. This is why sometimes when I heard they used anti-aircraft weapons, I just smiled.“Well, again, it is not surprising that it is possible. We ought by now to be able to identify the source of their weapons if neighbouring countries have stopped providing them hiding places. They too are suffering the same fate have stopped in Nigeria with the terrorists. It appears we have no control over our sky. If what Nyako said is true, it could have been any other helicopter or it could even be a helicopter making supplies to some of our troops somewhere because, we wouldn’t know where the troops are. But definitely, helicopters are critical means of fighting terrorism.
But do you see our military using the helicopter as critical means in the ongoing fight against Boko Haram?
As a matter of fact, I am surprised why the Nigerian military has not created helicopter-borne force. I know that before I left the service in 2002, the plan was on. We had identified places of purchase. I led the team on behalf of the Federal Government. So, we should by now have had helicopter-borne troops for helicopter-borne operations, which was why I was not surprised when they said they wanted helicopters and so on and so forth. By now, they should have had a helicopter-borne unit, which is not an Air Force unit. No. You don’t just take helicopter and give it to the Air Force. It is wrong.
May be because they are the ones in the air or which of the forces should really use helicopter?
Oh, then they should give all their cars and lorries to the Army. Look, helicopter is principally an Army weapon for special operations; the US would say marine. But in the Air Force, they“use it basically for search and rescue. The Navy uses helicopter for anti-submarine operations. The Army uses helicopter for special operations, counter insurgency. The police uses helicopter for patrol. So, all the services have their different ways of using helicopter. You should understand now why a high command is desirable; to pull for the purpose of a common goal and identified mission so that everybody can focus on the mission.
Here I don’t know what happened but, like I said, with time I am sure the appropriate information will get to the President.“Don’t forget that those who respect themselves stay away from pseudo-professionals if they had to remain sane. “The main ingredient for military strategy is information through professionals: correct information, adequate information, timely information. When information is“coloured, when information is delayed, the strategy will NOT work! If you cannot tell your Commander-in-Chief that these boys in the field are not being adequately catered for or when somebody says, `oh, the welfare situation is poor’, you go and say, `No, they are lying, they are playing politics,’ you will get to the situation we got to where you now had to start virtually court marshaling everybody. Because you allowed things to slip off your hands.
You didn’t tell the Commander-in-Chief the correct thing. It now started telling on the soldiers and they had no choice…. And once it’s telling on the soldiers, you have the results we are having. If it were in the United States of America that somebody like the governor of Borno State came up with what he said about the poor equipment of the Nigerian soldiers facing the highly sophisticated weapons bearing Boko Haram insurgents, the military high command would pick on it to tell the National Assembly, Please, see“our predicament. We need this, we need that.
In spite of these anomalies, do you think there will still be solution?
There is always a solution. I am not too sure how many insurgents they have identified and how many camps they are in. The first thing was to identify or locate them. And the Americans, the British and French were here and they went back. Why? They went back because they didn’t have the high command to liaise with. They met staff officers. They were being told to work with staff officers. They are not used to working with staff officers. They wanted to know what the commanders were doing and they wanted to be sure that the message that they wanted to convey to you was safe. If they were not sure, they will not share the message. I am not even surprised too that they didn’t agree to sell to us the …..helicopters because they knew that they would not be used for the purpose they were meant for.
Now you heard President Buhari say five years of insurgency enough is enough. And you heard him ordering relocation of military high command to the centre of the storm in Maiduguri. All these point in one direction, that if you do not have military background as leader of a country, you are not likely going to have it well administered because a President with military background knows how many soldiers make a battalion and so there is no way a so-called professional will, for budget reason, come and misinform him and will get away with it. You earlier on said you hoped the high command would not be enmeshed in budget scandal. I mean, a minister of finance saying N500 billion was given to the military and there was no up-to-date weapon commensurate with the fund to prosecute the fight against Boko Haram, for which the new President is considering a probe. Amnesty International has asked President Buhari to probe alleged war crimes committed by the military under the guise of fighting Boko Haram. What is your opinion; should he go ahead and probe?
It is normal that Amnesty International will raise issues when there is war because they do not take sides they have no business with any side. And unfortunately because of their particular background, and I have that problem too; I really don’t talk on sentiments whenever I comment on something, I just say it the way I see it.“One mistake that came up was the Nigerian military attempting to raise issue with Amnesty International because the whole world will tell you, `Why would Amnesty International blackmail you? But I am glad that that statement did not come from the President of the country or members of government.
So, they will see it as (military) people attempting to defend themselves. It is normal to accuse. It is also normal to defend. When President Olusegun Obasanjo authorized the operation in Zaki Biam, Amnesty International actually came up to accuse Nigerian military. You didn’t hear the military respond but it was actually probed. Open investigation was done to prove that, like the case of Zaki Biam, for example, it was known that riff-raffs, ex-soldiers were slaughtering people with photographs taken and were selling them in open market. Amnesty International or America did not go further. A clear conscience fears no accusation.
Then you talked about the background of the Commander-in-Chief. Let me be very frank here. I have looked through American history and I think only two of its Presidents so far didn’t have military background. Even in other countries that you don’t think that they have military background they have the advantage of military training and national army. Most countries in the world run their national service within the ethos of military training. When the National Youth Service Corps was established in this country, we had thought that it was the beginning of something. That was an opportunity to infuse ethos of military training in graduates.
And if you read The Prince, you will find that those who aspire to rule need military training, military education, because of the completeness of military education.“I have always looked at this nation too and have said if General Gowon were to be civilian President at the age he was head of state, this nation would have gone far in development. All those military officers succeeded to the extent they did because of their military background. The first thing is for you to know and appreciate the situation, define your mission, identify weaknesses and strengths and it applies to other disciplines which is where strategy has suddenly become a common term.
It is a military term that has now spread into other disciplines. If you talk of history now, they even tell you ‘strategy for collecting data. So, there is something in military background for a Commander-in-Chief. Even if he has none, he must have those advisers that see things dispassionately. You must let the Commander-in-Chief see things openly without hiding anything. Your loyalty will be judged from the day the Commander-in-Chief takes a decision. People say but the military is autocratic. I just laugh.
I served for 34 going to 35 years in the military and I have not seen any organization that gives everybody so much room to prove himself. A platoon commander sits down with his privates and others to discuss and they express their minds. When the company commander now comes to discuss with his company, he sends his platoon commanders away and speaks with everybody without their commanders so that they can even report their own commanders.
Up to the highest level like in the Army Headquarters when I was there, every week, the staff in the headquarters would meet with the commanders on the field. That is sufficiently consultative. The difference now is where you have to take a decision. Remember, the buck stops on your table and I am sure you are not going to ignore the facts that are laid bare. This is now where your level of loyalty comes. Whatever your view, once the commander has taken those decisions, you owe a duty to implement them. That is part of what would have come out from a basic military training for a Commander-in-Chief.
But many Nigerians don’t really see the military in the light you so project?
What is wrong with Nigeria is that the military thoroughly messed up itself because of its involvement with politicians. If the military did not take over, may be the respect for the military would still have been a lot higher. You see the military that now has decided, since our time, just turn your back at politicians and let them do what they want to do the way they want to do it because, in the final analysis, the military will never get praise for anything.
“In this country, nobody remembers that, but for military intervention in 1966, there would have been no Nigeria again. I was not in the military then. But it got to a stage you could no longer move from Lagos“to Ibadan through Ikorodu Road. How would you do it when the whole of Western Religion was on fire, when the whole place was no longer safe, when the politicians themselves were boasting and bringing in the boys, when local police were recruited? When the military came in, normalcy returned but they should have been able to know when to go.
And in any case, even in their entrance, they were perceived to be partisan and then it was obvious that some people would react. So, that they reacted was not unexpected. But I was already in the military when they started the baton exchange from one military regime to another, when all we could have done was to go away at that time, we ran down the essence of the military. Now let me go to the question of equipping the military. When I look at this country I smile. We have an Army that manufactures, a Navy that manufactures, an Air Force that manufactures.
I don’t know whether the police have started manufacturing; of course, I won’t be surprised. These are not primary military functions. You don’t manufacture what you want to use. It is not possible. Even the ordinary pistol, you will be surprised the number of parts and the diverse ways those parts come about. Even when we said we set up DICON (Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria) in Kaduna, we didn’t seem to see it as a military company heading a very wrong concept. In developed countries now, nations collaborate to produce even the most basic military ware but here we think that we can do it within the military.
I read in the papers that the Air Force had manufactured unmanned vessels and I have been asking myself, where are the unmanned vessels? The money being allocated to the military may not actually be going for what it is meant to achieve. We have a military that is like a municipal government: you run schools, you run markets, you run everything. That is what we have. What bothers me most is that we run so many services that very little is left for the actual materials required. I am not criticizing the current, but the truth is that the Nigerian military was never planned, is not planned and must be planned. And it does not necessarily mean that you are going to throw away the present military. No. You will also consider the present military from what we call the forces in being a factor in arriving at your new plan.
Security, as you can see, is mostly considered in the focus of the new President. What is your advice towards effective security re-positioning?
In considering security, adequate attention must be paid to the police. Our policing is at zero level. If the police is effective, most of what is happening now would not happen because it is the police that is closest to the populace. In every Local Government, the police is there or should be there. As a matter of fact, as a junior officer, when we had a joint operation, we had to do it from police operations centre because they used to have communication covering the whole country. If that were still there, what happened that Boko Haram spread out of control? That should not have been so.
What would you say is problem of the police therefore and what is the solution?
I am aware that the problem of the police started when they removed what they call e-branch, the intelligence wing and merged it to form the National Security Organisation (NSO) at that time, which is precursor for SSS. That was the beginning of the collapse of police effectiveness.
The police e-branch was a critical aspect; they focused on the locality.“The second thing that went wrong was that they decided to behook the police. Police suddenly became interested in living in barracks and so they were distancing themselves from the people they were meant to be close to. Behooking, that is, you are putting them in barracks when you don’t even have the means to maintain them there and that affected their morale and that also affected their equipment. If there was anything the police was proud of, it was his baton and torchlight.“Nigeria Police is perhaps the only police in the world that is too sophisticated to do foot patrol. If you go to Britain from the airport and I have been to 97 countries in the world, you see police men on foot patrol, their hands at their back. So, if you have that, there could still be this suicide bombing once in a while but not daily occurrence like we have in Nigeria now.
The security challenges we have are so because, like some say, the level of policing is too distant from the people. I hear some people say state police will make things worse now as politicians will be using them. And the question I ask is, the federal police, is it not being used by politicians; not necessarily the politicians in the Federal Government, even politicians outside government?“Every level of law making must have a law enforcement agency. Until we recognize that, we are just not ready for a good police. Even the palace should have police. Local government should have its police.“Universities should have their police. In Nigeria here, go to Shell, they have their police. They just train them with the Nigeria Police because they are serving them. So, the earlier we tell ourselves the truth, we need the police to be closer to the people.“There are areas of policing that must be centralized: investigation, intelligence.
That is why when we think that the EFCC is the solution, we are joking. The police is the solution. Even“the functions of EFCC, ICPC, NDLEA are all police functions. So, it is just a matter of looking at those functions and see those that must be centralized and then you think of the funding and making a common standard for all levels of the police. The central government will now use funding to effect compliance.“Again, there is no uniform for the police and it is bad. I don’t know whether you observe that the police wear camouflage. They wear T-shirts. Does it mean that they are ashamed of their uniform or that“only when by wearing camouflage looking combative will drive away the criminals? Even in the military, combat uniform is meant for combat.
Now, as a police man, you want to look combative and it comes to a time that nobody is even frightened and too many people are just willing to die.“I hope the present administration will tell them to wear their uniform, to have working dress for the Army, for the Navy and the Air Force. You even have working dress for them, they are different because they work in a different environment. The camouflage is for forest environment. Even the police ADC behind a governor wears camouflage because he has to look combative. No, no, no.
And you think it is simple? It is not. There is the case of a man in Benin, each time he goes home he sees the police on the road wearing just any type of dress. So, one day he took for granted that they were the police and they told him, “Mo boy, shut up your mouth. We are armed robbers.” Many times that armed robbery happened on the road, people thought that they were police because the police on the road no longer want to wear uniform. Who knows whether they are policemen or not? If policemen wear their uniform and the uniform is provided by the authority with a standard, when we see a policeman we will know he is a policeman, not a soldier-police.