By Emmanuel Onwubiko.
Just before this year’s Valentine’s Day celebrations, the first set of service Chiefs appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari few months after he was sworn in on May 29th 2015, voluntarily disengaged.
Since their disengagement, a lot of waters have passed through the bridge. Also the Nation’s security climate has further taken a nose-dive thus demonstrating without any doubt that purging the service chiefs out of their commanding positions was never going to be the solution to the widening spectre of violent attacks targeting civilians by terrorists.
Aside the fact that terrorists attacks have heightened including the dastardly criminal terror acts of kidnapping school children, there is also a steady rise and a spike in the attacks by all forms of armed non- state actors targeting military officers.
There have been reported cases of violent killings of soldiers that have occurred across the geopolitical zones since the voluntary departure of the erstwhile military chiefs including the then Army Chiefs lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai who is known to have strongly acted to forestall such reckless and lawless killings of his operatives.
Apart from adopting strict military actions in the event of the killings of soldiers, the former Army Chief of staff lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai made a formidable reputation amongst Civilians for investing substantially in carrying out initiatives and projects in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility that impacted positively on the overall lives of Civilians and soldiers alike and these projects cemented the relationship between the civilian population and the Nigeria military.
There is therefore the need to call on the current Army Chief as well as all the other service chiefs to embrace the investment of resources towards achieving greater corporate social responsibility so as to encourage increased relationship between the military and the civilians to check the increasing attacks targeting the Army. Only earlier this month, March 4th 2021, many Soldiers were feared killed as bandits Stormed Military Base in Katsina
An unspecified number of soldiers are feared killed in an attack on a military outpost in Marina, Safana Local Government Area of Katsina State….
An unspecified number of soldiers are feared killed in an attack on a military outpost in Marina, Safana Local Government Area of Katsina State.
The attack was carried out around 1pm on Thursday, according to eyewitnesses. It is not clear the casualties suffered on either side, but some soldiers were feared killed. The soldiers were said to be returning from an operation in a nearby forests when they were ambushed.
A resident of the area, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said: “Unknown to the soldiers, the bandits had laid ambush in their outpost. The bandits opened fire immediately the soldiers returned to the posts.
“It is unfortunate because the soldiers were just returning from another operation, where they made tremendous success, combing the forests for the bandits, only to be waylaid in their base,” he said.
Another resident, however, said two of the bandits were killed during the gun duel. Attempts to confirm the incident from the Military or the Police authorities proved abortive.This and many other hate motivated attacks against the military is the reason to ask the service Chiefs to revisit General Buratai type of CSR projects.
The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) implies positive, as opposed to negative, influence and contribution of an organization to society and its environment. It is the way in which a corporate body, group or body impacts its milieu by providing basic amenities or contributing to its host community or society outside its strict legal bounds or contract with such a community, individuals or society.
According to Nigeria Social Enterprise Reports Vol.2, CSR is generally understood to be the way a company achieves a balance or integration of economic, environmental and social imperatives while at the same time addressing shareholders and stakeholders expectations. This stems from the fact that organizations like businesses owe the society beyond the production of goods and services and making of profit.
While it is not news that in May 2008 Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council approved the development of a CSR policy for the country, to instill ethical behavior in Nigerian Business, words used by the then Minister of National Planning Commission, Dr Sanusi Daggash, makes it clear that the policy includes “beyond law commitment” and activities that would necessitate an expectation to ‘give back’ to the society by groups existing in society not merely limited to “companies”.
The theory is rooted in the humanity of man and the need for everybody or organization to act in accordance with that humanity or respond to same irrespective of their core traditional role for which they were primarily set up to achieve.
Thus the concept of corporate social responsibility extends to all organizations of human endeavour including such as the army. It is in this regard that the definition of the concept of CSR by the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) is quite appreciable because of its broad base. EFQM, in its Framework for Social Responsibility, 2004, defines CSR as:
“a whole range of fundamentals that organizations are expected to acknowledge and to reflect in their actions. It includes among other things respecting human rights, fair treatment of the workforce, customers and suppliers, being good corporate citizens in the communities in which they operate and the conservation of natural environment.”
On the other hand, the Nigerian Army is established under section 217(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which provides that there shall be an armed forces for the Federation which shall consist of an Army, a Navy, an Air Force and such other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly. The functions of the armed forces are expressly provided in under section 217(2) thus:
“The Federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of –
(a) Defending Nigeria from external aggression;
(b) Maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea and air;
(c) Suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and
(d) Performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.”
Pivotal Role of the Army
The place of the army in society cannot be over-emphasized. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) under the Fundamental Objectives and Directive principle of State Police makes a correlation between security and welfare of the people by stating under section 14(1)(b) that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.
It must equally be noted that it is not out of place that the subject of security and welfare is immediately preceded by the sovereignty of the people under section 14(1)(a). The point being made is that the sovereignty of the nation is only guaranteed and protected by where the security and welfare of the people is prioritized. A most functional institution of the state involved in protecting the sovereignty, security and welfare of the people is the military and especially the army.
This role of the army in society is much more understandable in the light of section 218 (1) of the Constitution confers on the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces with “power to determine the operational use of the armed forces of the Federation.” The functions and use of the army are therefore not confined to the ones mentioned under section 217 of the constitution and could go beyond as far as the President considers it necessary. This role will better be understood in the light of its corporate social responsibility.
CSR of the Nigerian Army
First the army is neutral, non-partisan and peaceful. Section 55 of the Armed Forces Act says:
‘A person subject to service law who-
(a) Fights, quarrels or behaves a disorderly manner with any other person, whether subject to service law under this Act or not; or
(b) Uses threatening, abusive, insulting or provocative works or behavior likely to cause disturbance, Is guilty of an offence under this section and is liable, on conviction by a court martial, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or any less punishment provided by this Act.
The army authorities continue to ensure that the neutral, non-partisan and peaceful role of the army in society is observed, any breach of which immediately gets a reciprocal response by summons to Court Martial in appropriate circumstances.
Second there is another part of the CSR which defines its ability and efficiency in other respects; it is in taking care of its own workforce. Although there is no specific legal provision regulating CSR in Nigeria, section 279 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) has a guiding principle to the effect that the director of a company is to have regard in the performance of his functions to the interest of the company’s employees in general as well as in the interests of its members.
The concept of CSR in this regard has thus been identified to entail: provision of a conducive working environment in making available modern working tools and equipment, ventilated offices, good infrastructure, decent and official cars, health and safety equipment at the workplace; payment of competitive salary remuneration commensurate with level commitment and offer of opportunities for training and career development; maintaining equal opportunities among members of workforce; involving members of the workforce in decisions affecting them; establishment of clear cut bargaining and grievance procedures known to and followed by members of the workforce.
In the case of Lt. Col. MF Komonibo v. Nigerian Army (2002) 6 NWLR (Pt.762) 2, it was held that an accused about to be tried by a Court Martial shall be entitled to object in any reasonable grounds to any member of the court martial or the awaiting member whether appointed originally or in lieu of another officer. The Court went further to affirm that:
“for the purpose enabling the accused to avail himself of the right,
The names of the members of the court martial and the waiting members shall be read over in the presence of the accused before they are sworn in and the accused shall be asked whether he objects to any of those officers.”
Third, there is the aspect of CSR which deals with direct non-military involvement of the army with the civilian population by provision of basic amenities to the society. The importance of this role cannot be over-emphasized in the light of the long history of the involvement of the military in politics, governance and dealing with various Nigerian communities.
At such times the army was known to roll out their tanks, arms and ammunitions at the slightest provocation of the civilian population. This has created a dichotomy in relationship between the army and the people. One way the army is rewriting this narrative is not only people-friendly approach but also show of care to their various host communities by civil engagement, interaction as well as provision of the social amenities which will create a notion of the people’s army.
In effort towards both internal and external civil relating, the army has deployed the West African Social Activities (WASA) which is an annual army event to encourage and promote unity among members of the army and with their host communities. At the 2017 celebration in Lagos, the Chief of Army Staff represented by the Maj.Gen. Babatunde Oyefolu, GOC 81 Division, stated:
“as we commence another training circle, I urge you all to remain committed in the discharge of your collective responsibility of ensuring peace and stability across the country. You must remain focused, dedicated and resilient in order to consolidate on the achievements so far recorded. I also pay my tribute to our fallen heroes who paid the supreme price to keep the country safe.”
The importance of the event was observed at the 2016 occasion that saw the revival of army activities which had been suspended. In his words,
“Such activities include the Nigerian Army Sports Festival which was held last year after a seven-year break. We significantly and successfully curbed criminality and other nefarious activities. The climax of these exercises and operations was the “operation Rescue Finale’ in the North Esat which led to the fall of the Sabisa forest and the capture of camp zero. We will provide decent accommodation and other social amenities to our personal and ensure that our troops get adequate logistics in all operational areas …”
At the 2019 WASA celebration at the Army Headquarters Garrison, Abuja, the Chief of Army Staff, represented by Chief of Policy and Plans, Lt.-Gen lamidi Adeosun reiterated the traditional and modern roles of the army saying:
“It is in this regard that the Nigerian army has remained a professionally responsive army in the discharge of its constitutional duty. It is therefore heartwarming to observe that the Nigerian army has remained focused within this mandate and also committed to preserving our democracy.
The strong statement to this effect has been our resolute commitment in tackling the security challenges confronting the country and recently during the 2019 general election acting in support of Nigerian police.”
In the same vein the Department of Defence Civil-Military Relations (DDCMR) was created to coordinate the military interaction with the people and institutions in the country. The civil military relations project that commenced implementation in 2015 aims to achieve the objective to ensure continuous and improved dialoguing between civilians and the military towards better security outcomes and respect for the fundamental rights for the country. It is expected that when fully operational, the Department is expected to enhance civil military cooperation and serve as a confidence building avenue between the military and their civilian counterparts.
Besides what the current military leadership is doing through its programme on improving civil-military relation, it is stated that the T.Y. Danjuma Centre for Civil-Military Relations set up by former Chief of army Staff, Lt. Gen TY Danjuma, complements the military’s drive in its quest to prove relations between the military and the populace. The centre’s goals are:
“The organization of activities aimed at fostering esprit de corps among the armed forces and security agencies in Nigeria, facilitation of quick resolution of disputes between the armed forces with organized private section and multinational corporations and the promotion of social re-integration of retired service personnel into the civil society. We believe that, with harmonious society, a foundation for a peaceful environment for entrepreneurship will be assured.”
Moreover the army has at different times aided in aid of civil powers which could include search and rescue, debris removal, medical, clearance of road, demolition of unsafe structures, provision of temporary shelters and information dissemination. For example during the recent flood that occurred in Sokoto, the Nigerian Army Engineers were called upon to construct bailey bridges to facilitate the movement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) into safety zones. Same was the situation when some parts of Taraba State was virtually cut off. Military engineers contributed to restoration of the socio-economic life of the people.
The Military have organized structures to assist civil authorities in emergency situations. For instance, “Operation Second Eleven”, is an aid to civil authority initiative aimed at complementing civil agencies in the maintenance of essential services like telecommunications, petroleum product distribution and medical services in the event of strike by the “first eleven” employees. The Nigerian Army Signals, Supply and Transport and Medical Corps all have operational structures that can be activated at short notice to become “second eleven”.
The Nigerian Medical and other Corps within the military have equally rendered valuable services that have contributed to the socio-economic well-being of the nation. Retired Brig. Gen Ovadje of the Nigerian Army Medical Corps, of a ‘Blood Transfusion Set’, earned Nigeria international recognition.
Similar intervention programmes had been in the six geopolitical zones of the country. Four solar-powered water projects were inaugurated in different settlements in Obeititu autonomous community of Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State by the Nigerian Army represented by General Officer Commanding of the division, Maj. Gen. Abubakar Maikobi in 2019.
Speaking on these interventions the Chief of Army Staff had said the projects were meant to strengthen the existing civil-military relations and turn the minds of Nigerians towards the positive actions of the Nigerian Army meant to provide security and development in the country. He said:
“I want to believe that these water projects will serve the needs of this community and environs. I wish to also appeal to us to see the projects as symbols of unity. Let these projects serve as symbols of peace, unity, tolerance and love to this community and the state at large….”
The Traditional Ruler of the Community, Eze Amadi Obo, in his response said: “the entire community, which include our children, youths, women and elders are very happy about the project coming from the Nigerian Army.”
It is reported that over ninety five percent (95%) of the Chief of Army Staff intervention projects has been successfully executed and inaugurated across the six geo-political zones.
Summary and Conclusion
Nigeria no doubt has a bad past with the military, the military has continued to evolve with the Nigerian society. It could be said the military has accepted its role as a security institution of the state and has continued to modernize to efficiently and positively affect the people towards a more democratic and safe society. The people must also accept this reality and offer the best help possible to the military to enable its effectiveness, service delivery, peaceful co-habitation and better society.
*Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and blogs@www. theingerianinsidernews.com, www.huriwanigeria.com.
Disclaimer: “The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Emmanuel Onwubiko, and do not necessarily reflect those of The World Satellite. The World Satellite will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.”