The patriot in me cries foul.
How can our army chief claim that our soldiers lack fighting spirit?
With proper backing and motivation, the Nigerian military can flush out Boko Haram and the so-called bandits.
Be it peacekeeping or peace enforcement all over the world, the Nigerian Army is tops.
Let’s dip into history for the facts.
Congo. Lebanon. Slovenia. Somalia. Rwanda. Angola. Western Sahara. Iraq. Kuwait. Liberia. Sierra Leone etc.
You name the country – Nigerian soldiers have marched strong across the globe and raised the flag very high.
So why can’t our military earn the peace in Nigeria?
It flies in the face of reason.
Nigeria’s standing as the Giant of Africa owes a lot to the exploits of the Nigerian military in global peacekeeping.
Now that the country is in dire straits internally it is hoped that the military will trounce the so-called bandits.
That is the only way its achievements in global peacekeeping be celebrated.
The nation has participated in more than 30 peacekeeping operations around the globe since independence in 1960.
Nigeria’s first contribution in 1960 to the UN Operations in the Congo (UNOC) was commanded by then Lt-Col JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi and was made up of 26 officers, 640 soldiers and four British Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs).
Known as the Queen’s Nigeria Regiment (5QNR), the troops on arrival in the Congo established its battalion headquarters at Bakavu, the capital of the Kivu Province in Eastern Congo.
A major highlight of the Kivu operation was the release of an Austrian ambulance unit captured by the Congolese in December 1960.
Before departing from Bakavu 5QNR was responsible for the evacuation of over 600 African and European refugees who were faced with the summary justice meted out by the Congolese Army.
The “D” Company of 5QNR suffered a major setback when it was ambushed by the Congolese near the Kindu airstrip and the officer in command of the unit, Lt. Ezeugbana, was killed.
The Supreme Commander of UNOC Aguiyi-Ironsi made medal presentations to the contingent on April 27, 1961, before 5QNR handed over affairs to 2QR commanded by then Lt-Col S.A. Ademulegun on May 22, 1961.
The 4QNR of the Nigerian Army based in Ibadan later joined the Congo effort, and the then Major F.A. Fajuyi became the first officer in the Nigerian Army to be honoured with the Military Cross.
The 4QNR was later replaced in Katanga by the Kaduna-based 3QNR.
Brigadier-General Babatunde Ogundipe earned the distinction as the first Nigerian to command the Nigerian Brigade in the Congo.
Two officers from the Nigerian Brigade Headquarters, Majors Conrad Nwawo and Lawson, earned high honours for helping to evacuate some missionaries whose lives were in danger.
The Nigerian contingent was in the Congo from November 10 1960 to June 30 1964, reaching its maximum strength of 1,703 and thus becoming the third largest command after India and Ethiopia.
Nigerian troops were on the march again in 1978, deployed to war-torn Lebanon as part of the United Nations’ Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Nigeria’s participation in UNIFIL from April 1978 to January 1983 represents the longest involvement of the Nigerian Army in a UN peacekeeping operation.
It also became the first time Nigerian troops were deployed outside the African continent. By September 1978 the strength of the Nigerian forces in Lebanon stood at 673.
The Nigerian Battalion (NIBATT) was first under the command of Lt-Col Lawrence Uvwumarogie, and over all, nine battalions were committed to UNIFIL by Nigeria.
In the end, 43 Nigerians died prosecuting UNIFIL while about 120 others were wounded.
Some 900 soldiers drawn from the army unit in Nguru and commanded by Lt-Col Taye Olubobokun left for Slovenia on June 6 1992 to be part of the United Nations’ Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia (UNPROFOR), the first European peacekeeping operation of the UN in which the army of an African country participated.
Somalia became Nigeria’s next port of call when on February 3, 1993 a Nigerian Battalion drawn from 245 Reconnaissance Battalion in Ikeja Military Cantonment was led by then Lt-Col Olagunsoye Oyinlola to Mogadishu.
Nigerian forces played acclaimed roles towards ending the carnage in Rwanda through participation in the United Nations’ Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) set up by the Security Council in October 1993.
The Nigerian Army has also served on the observer missions of the UN, notably the United Nations’ Verification Missions in Angola (UNAVEM I&II) under the command of Major-Generals Edward Unimna and Chris Abutu Garuba respectively.
Nigeria also excelled in the United Nations’ Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), the United Nations’ Observer Mission in Iraq and Kuwait (UNIKOM) and the United Nations’ Iran-Iraq Observer Group (UNIMOG).
From December 1981 to June 1982, Major-General Geoffrey Ejiga commanded the Nigerian troops that restored peace to Chad.
Nigeria was a leading force in the ECOWAS Ceasefire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) that saved Liberia from total ruination.
Sierra Leone also enjoyed the peacemaking intervention of Nigeria.
The Nigerian military marched to be counted in Darfur, Sudan.
After the glories abroad, the Nigerian military should be allowed by the powers-that-be to finish off the bandits on the home front.