Massive retirement looms in the military as the high command has ordered immediate retirement of all ‘soldiers with divided loyalty or disgruntled or unmotivated personnel’ in the army, navy and the air force.
This was contained in a memo signed by the Chief of Defence Administration at the Defence Headquarters, Rear Admiral Muhammed Nagenu, which was sighted by Daily Trust on Wednesday.
The memo, which was signed on behalf of the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, stated that the “disgruntled and unmotivated” officers and soldiers no longer exhibit a high level of undivided loyalty and the presence of mind required for military operations.
It partly read, “In view of the above, deployments of such personnel do not benefit the Services and are in fact counter-productive.
“Consequently, on the identification of disgruntled or unmotivated personnel, Services are advised to take steps to compulsorily discharge or retire such personnel in line with extant laws.”
It was unclear last night whether the disgruntled officers were being profiled for involvement in mutiny or any other unwholesome acts but the military high command explained that the order was not targeted at any officer.
The Director, Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Jimmy Akpor, in a telephone interview with Daily Trust, noted that the memo was to ensure discipline within the armed forces.
The senior military officer, who did not disclose the number of officers that would be affected, maintained that it was not targeted at anybody.
Maj. Gen. Akpor queried the leakage of the internal memo, saying such development was normal in order to boost the morale of personnel.
He explained that no personnel would be retired or made to exit service without rigorous administrative processes and procedures being exhausted.
“Be assured that the Nigerian Military is a self-regulating organisation that holds tenaciously to the best practices of administration. The so-called memo is saying the obvious as even civil organisations would not maintain disgruntled elements.”
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Army had, in 2015, immediately after general elections sacked scores of senior officers over alleged partisanship.
Although, the then-acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman (now retired Brig.-Gen.), said they were retired “based on service exigencies”, the Army Council confirmed that the action was taken over the officers’ alleged involvement in partisan politics.
A number of the officers involved have since challenged their retirement in courts but the army authorities are yet to reinstate those ordered to be reabsorbed.
In what now appears like the first sign of what to come, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Irabor, had last week told journalists that many personnel of the armed forces were facing court-martial for conniving with the kidnappers, bandits, terrorists and other criminals.
He said they would be made to face the wrath of the law for being internal saboteurs within the military, but declined to comment on the number of officers facing trial.
According to him, “There will always be a time where there are those who are bad eggs… there will always be bad eggs, there will always be… so for us, because there are bad eggs, or we envisaged that at some point there would be bad eggs, there are filters we’ve also made.
“Part of those filters is, even having to discover those moles and then put them on trial. They were not reported to us, we discovered them. If we didn’t have measures to discover and for us to have mechanisms for internal checks, how would we have discovered the moles?
“That we even discovered the moles that tell you to trust that something is being done about them. I’m glad he (Bernard) told you about the standing court-martial. Why did we have to create one in the theatres? Why do we even have to have one here, in Abuja, in the DHQ Garrison?
“In the DHQ Garrison, there is a standing court-martial, in all the divisions of the Nigerian Army, there are standing court-martials. Why? Because it is part of our administrative procedures to address issues because discipline is the anchor of our existence.”
The directive will dampen officers’ morale further – War veteran
Reacting to the development, a retired Master Warrant Officer, Anthony Agbas, noted that the CDS directive would further dampen the morale of many military officers.
“I don’t know why most of our officers have not faced the reality on the ground. People fighting insurgency now, such as Boko Haram, bandits, calling them names is not good at all.
“You’re supposed to encourage them to fight further, not to demoralise them. Maybe he (the CDS) has reasons but I don’t think the development is good.”
Move misguided, ill-advised – Retired colonel
A retired Colonel, Amb. (Dr) Okhidievbie Roy described the plan of the military as ill-advised and misguided, saying it is tantamount to aggravating the security situation in the country.
He stated that if some military officers have divided loyalty or they are disgruntled, retiring them is not the solution.
In a chat with Daily Trust, Roy who is National Secretary, Retired Members of Nigerian Armed Forces (REMENAF) advised the military to instead invite counsellors and psychiatrists to talk to them and explore the possibility of reorienting them.
He stated that the military system is already depleted with the leadership even begging the retired members of the Nigerian Armed forces to come and help.
“When you have this number of personnel that you termed disgruntled, if the military cannot solve their disgruntled nature, if the military cannot create counselling line, mediation line, if the military cannot implement interrogation, communication without disgruntled reasoning, is it the civilian society you are throwing them to that will solve the problem?
“Are you not aggravating and adding to the multitude of trained and skilled criminal elements in the society? What efforts has the military done to invite counsellors, psychiatrists, and people that will come and talk to these people? Give them medical attention, and look at what is running in their heads.
“Because we’ve had suicide cases of military personnel that opened fire on other colleagues and shot themselves. Are we not agreeing that so many of them are facing myriads of challenges plaguing their hearts? What is happening to their family? Are they not facing the same economic hardship? Are their children in school free of charge or do they still pay school fees for their children?
“They don’t get allowances in the front line. Meanwhile, some of them overstay in the frontline, three years or four years and there is disparity, there is favouritism. Some people are posted to the frontline in Zamfara, Borno- Bama while some people are posted to oil and gas facilities in Bayelsa and Port Harcourt.
“Some of them also have not been promoted and they are due and overdue for promotion.”