The Nigerian Army has countered an article by The Economist, which criticises the federal government on the security challenges in the country and describes “many” soldiers as “ghosts”.
The article, published earlier on Saturday, had made references to security agencies such as the army and the police, noting that the government needs to do more improve security.
“When violence erupts, the government does nothing or cracks heads almost indiscriminately. Nigeria’s army is mighty on paper. But many of its soldiers are “ghosts” who exist only on the payroll, and much of its equipment is stolen and sold to insurgents,” the article reads.
“The army is also stretched thin, having been deployed to all of Nigeria’s states. The police are understaffed, demoralised and poorly trained. Many supplement their low pay by robbing the public they have sworn to protect.”
The article, however, makes recommendations for improved security, adding that “to stop the slide towards lawlessness, Nigeria’s government should make its own forces obey the law”.
But in a statement issued hours after the article was published, the army criticised the position of The Economist on the efforts of the military, describing it as a report done “without due diligence”.
“Even as the real intention of the otherwise respected Economist magazine in publishing such toxic concoctions weaved up as report on Nigerian Government’s response to the multi-faceted security challenges assailing the country is yet to be unraveled, the source of the article is very clear. It is one of those deliberate falsehood and noxious narratives orchestrated by a network of detractors and coven of dark forces working very hard to adorn the Nigerian Army in an unfitting garb of infamy,” a statement by Onyema Nwachukwu, army spokesman, reads.
“The vile report which the Economist chose to offer its platform for publication, spared no effort in trying to vilify and rubbish the image, character and reputational standing of the Nigerian Army, but failed woefully.
“As a professional, hard-fighting and globally respected institution that has continued to occupy deserved glorious position in the comity of global defence forces, the Nigerian Army is certainly not what the so-called report by the Economist tried to characterise it. Even more ludicrous was the embellishments of the said report by the notorious unprofessional media outlets that were quick to republish the obvious falsehood.
“How is it conceivable that an international magazine worth its name and professional reputation would agree to lend its medium for a hatchet job of an article without as much as committing little effort to finding out the real truth about the Nigerian Army? How is it imaginable that the Nigerian Army that has distinguished itself as a worthy contributor to global peace and security through regional, continental and international peace keeping and peace support operations would be characterised as “Mighty on paper”? How can the Nigerian Army that has restored democracies, brought peace to troubled lands and stabilised the sub-region through the dint of hard work, commitment to duty, discipline and professionalism be so denigrated?
“Is it the ‘ghost soldiers’ of the Nigerian Army that have weathered the storm of terrorism and insurgency of Boko Haram and Islamic State of West African Province Terrorists (ISWAP) in the north eastern part of the country and parts of the Lake Chad region?
“In case the Economist magazine and those who fed it all the lies it published do not know, the Nigerian Army working in a joint environment, has been able to stop ISWAP, a very formidable international terrorist organisation in its tracks, in spite of all the obstacles, including arm sale blackouts on its way. The Economist and its ilk ought to have known that the Nigerian Army has long distinguished itself as a professional force that does not toy with accountability nor shirk from its statutory responsibility of defending Nigeria from external aggression or internal insurrection.”
The army added that despite the content of the article, it remains “undeterred, undistracted and totally unfazed by the harebrained assertions contained in that silly report”.