Babangida, Abacha, Obasanjo sent Nigerian Army into comatose – Femi Adesina

Femi Adesina

Special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on media and publicity Femi Adesina has accused former military rulers Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha and Olusegun Obasanjo of sending the Nigerian Army into “comatose”.

Mr Adesina stated this in his opinion article on Friday titled “No Longer ‘An Army of Anything Goes,” adding that it took the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to restore the lost glory of the army.

“Our army had done exploits in Burma, in Congo, at different peacekeeping operations in many parts of the world, but by 1993, it had deteriorated to become ‘an army of anything goes.’ Like disorganized Boy Scouts. Pity!” he began.

“Why should we believe that unflattering appellation? Because it came from one of its very own, a well-respected Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Salihu Ibrahim. Ibrahim had commanded the army from August 1990 to September 1993, and when he was retiring, he lamented that the once-revered institution had become ‘an army of anything goes.’

“There was hardly a whimper in protest because the army itself knew that its Chief spoke the truth. Many years before then, a police spokesman, Alozie Ogbugbuaja, had said all that officers of the army knew how to do was to plan coups, drink beer, ‘and eat pepper soup.’ Great was the umbrage, and that impudent policeman was run out of town.

“But by the time Salihu Ibrahim spoke in 1993, the pepper soup was almost no longer there. Gen Ibrahim Babangida, incidentally a former Chief of Army Staff himself, had rendered the institution prostrate and comatose, so much so that it was almost not able to shoot firecrackers again, not to talk of guns, light or heavy.

“What Babangida started was consummated by Sani Abacha, and Olusegun Obasanjo, two other Generals of the Nigerian Army. It became truly “anything goes,” to the disquietude and sorrow of some officers trained in the finest traditions of the military.

“The situation was not radically better under subsequent Presidents, until that thoroughbred soldier, an officer and gentleman from Daura came. It is said that you cannot likely effect change in a system, unless you were sufficiently vexed with the inadequacies of that system. Muhammadu Buhari did not do any other thing after school, other than soldiering. So he knew the Nigerian Army in its days of glory, and he also saw when it had degenerated into ‘an army of anything goes.’

“It is on record today that no Nigerian leader has trained, equipped and motivated the army as much as Muhammadu Buhari has done. The Nigerian Navy and Air Force would have their days, but let us focus on the Nigerian Army today.”

Adesina highlighted the statement of the chief of defence staff Major Lucky Irabor following the report submitted by the Lagos judicial panel of inquiry which indicted the army on the October 20, 2020, incident at Lekki toll gate.