The recent bombing at Jaji military school in Kaduna state is quite instructive in many ways. Apart from the fact that this monumental attack has exposed that not even the military is immune from the raging operations of terrorists, no matter how we may wish to pretend otherwise about it or what we may readily say to the contrary. More importantly it has ultimately revealed the greatest demerit and danger associated with decades of deliberate policy of concentrating over 70% percent of the nation’s military human and material infrastructure in Kaduna state.
Unequivocally, it is only pretenders or those who feel that this attack is about to expose the secret of their decades of deliberate policies aimed at establishing hegemonic control of the military that will dismiss this truth or make a fuss about it. In fact, come to think of it, is it only in the North-west or Kaduna state to be precise that we can find the only existing conducive environment for the training and/or retraining of our military personnel? Certainly, one has no illusions about the importance of Ibadan military base and that of Lagos state as well as other minor military training units spread across other geo-political zones, some of which are products of relatively recent creation resulting at times from the sheer attempt to improve the service delivery capacity. For that of Lagos base, however, we may as well recall that save for being the former capital of the country, the major military facilities there might have all been in the North-western state of Kaduna.
Incidentally, it is still a fact of history that it took the coming and the eventual intervention of president Olusegun Obasanjo in the recent past for the Air Force base facilities in Benue state to be restored into use after years of relocation of the operational fabrics of that base to the North-West by the same people who used to believe that as far as the military is concerned, nothing good can be found elsewhere in Nigeria except in the North-west and Kaduna state in particular. Somehow, who knows, were it not for the move, the base would have still been in the North-west and perhaps under the prevailing terrorist siege.
Expectedly, not a handful of people have come to terms with the fact that the recent bombing at Jaji military school is an indication of the readiness of the marauding terrorists within and outside the government to destroy the highly respected Nigeria military, the army in particular, and its intelligence base. Although these terrorists have not completely succeeded in their unfolding destruction strategies, there is little or no doubt that this maiden operation they have just launched at Jaji was somewhat successful. But the big question is: must we watch and wait till the Nigeria military institutions in the North-western state of Kaduna are all attacked or destroyed before some seriously meaningful and urgent steps are taken in order to protect the lives of foreigners in these institutions, even if we do not place premium on the lives of our own officers there?
Understandably, it is not unexpected that some commanding officers have lost their positions and might even be court-martialed in no time sequel to these shameful acts of bombing. But the pertinent question is, will all these actions guarantee security of lives and property in and around these military institutions after all? Left to the wisdom of the moment, however, these actions are good and expedient in the instant circumstance and will expectedly serve as deterrent to officers who may consciously or unconsciously maintain lax security in their various beats.
But the truth is that, considering the nature of terrorism and the kind of powerful network terrorists operate, mere removal and replacement of commanding officers may not in itself alone bring terrorism against military institutions to an end. Instead it will at best provide an unsure means to an unknown end. It need not therefore be belabored that terrorism is one phenomenon that thrives, radiates and reflects the character of certain social and cultural milieu. That is why it (terrorism) can hardly thrive or be perpetrated in an environment where people are totally averse or loath to identify with propensities that are extrinsic to their value system and world view. Conversely, this is exactly the picture of what obtains in all climes where acts of terrorism are routine occurrences.
At this juncture, it is paramount to emphasize the need for relocation or, better still, the decentralization of these military institutions that are all concentrated in Kaduna state along geo-political zones in the country. For the purpose of clarity, this is basically imperative for the sake of the security of lives of foreigners in these military institutions. And it is through this pragmatic approach that the Nigeria military can be well repositioned to squarely combat the Boko Haram menace and other terrorist groups operating in the far North.
Nevertheless, it must be noted that one of the reasons reportedly advanced for the relocation of the federal capital from Lagos to Abuja was not unconnected with the “vulnerable” location of the former to possible external aggressions, a similar scenario which the nation’s major military institutions concentrated in Kaduna state are facing today with the escalating Boko Haram crisis, which security reports have revealed to have a large involvement of external elements. While we do not wish that it happens someday, we must begin to reckon with the scenario of what will become the fate of the entire Nigerian military in the event that these terrorists and their foreign collaborators invade these or any of these military institutions. Thus to be cautious is not to be cowardly.
Finally, those who like to use every opportunity offered by Boko Haram attacks to increase the tempo of their song of dialogue should realize the futility of their antics. Giving these elements the undeserving impression and the unflagging courage that there are prospects for them in whatever is the motive for their ceaseless campaign especially each time they embark on and/or emerge from bloodletting is absolutely preposterous and whatever this action is intended to achieve will remain counterproductive.
Onyiorah Chiduluemije Paschal writes from the International Institute of Journalism, Abuja
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters