Former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh is an interesting personality. A fine gentleman, military intelligence professional and brilliant soldier, he is reputed as one of the finest air officers Nigeria ever produced. This explains why he was retained by President Goodluck Jonathan on 15 January 2014 when other service chiefs were sacked. Following their exit, Badeh was promoted to the rank of a full general and made Chief of Defence Staff. As at the time he was dropped by the present administration last year, he was the highest ranking military personnel in the country. But that is now history as the ex-CDS and other former top military brass are feeling the heat in the detention room of the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC over allegations bordering on corruption and embezzlement of public funds.
Going by their status and the way they swigged their swagger sticks while in office, who would ever believe these senior military officers would end up the way they did? Who would believe they would be cowed by a police officer called Ibrahim Magu? Who would believe respected Marshals by name Alex Badeh and Adesola Amosu would have such lush funds as to plead to return N610billion out of the stolen sum to federal government coffers as reported in the media last week? Indeed, who would believe? The lesson to be learnt from the unfolding revelations in the ongoing corruption trials in Nigeria is that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The second lesson is that nobody is above the law and should be seen to be.
Looking back at the days of Badeh as CDS, I quickly recall some of his attributes. One was that he was boastful, full of himself if you may say. Second, he was garrulous. What the former Air Chief failed to do on the battle field, he did with his mouth. He had his mouth before his thought. This inability to think, plan and strategize before talking became his bane and inevitably contributed to his downfall. His brother and former Police Chief, Hafiz Ringim would tell him better based on his (Ringim’s) personal experience in office.
A few examples would suffice. Shortly after his appointment by former President Goodluck Jonathan on 15 January 2014, Badeh went wild with his mouth, assuring Nigerians and indeed, the world that Boko Haram insurgency would soon be a thing of the past. He gave a deadline of April 2014. That was before he even assessed the enormity of challenges before him.
Speaking after taking over from his predecessor, Admiral Ola Ibrahim at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja , Badeh said it was mandatory for the military to wipe out the outlawed sect in the next three months so as to prevent constitutional issues that might arise.
Said he: “The security situation in the North East must be brought to a complete stop before April 2014. We must bring it to a stop before April so that we will not have constitutional problems on our hands. We don’t want to go back to the Senate to start begging and lobbying. If we do our work cohesively, I can tell you, Gen. Minimah, you will finish your work in no time. I can assure you (Minimah) that the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff will give you all the support you need”, Badeh said
Until Badeh and his team were swept off by Buhari last year, the insurgency rather than end took a more dangerous dimension. Indeed, it is on record that more than 200 Chibok school girls were kidnapped during his tenure. That was on the 14th of April, 2014. Till date, the girls are yet to be rescued.
Also during Badeh’s tenure, traditional rulers and their subjects were kidnapped; some killed, others maimed, with homes and palaces destroyed and desecrated. Even Badeh’s home town, Mubi was not spared.
The rampaging Boko Haram insurgents, after taking over Mubi, mounted their flag and renamed the town “Madinatu Islam” (the city of Islam). The town was later rescued from the insurgents by native hunters and vigilante men; not Badeh’s soldiers. What a shame!
In the heat of these, several groups and individuals called for his resignation or sack. But the CDS rather than accept the fact that the military under his leadership failed the nation, went about boasting. His words: “If a CDS loses his home town it’s the same thing as losing Lagos; it’s the same as losing Enugu. Any part of the country that is lost CDS carries the weight, ok?
“So, it is immaterial whether it is my home town, whether it’s my house that is burnt or Emeka’s house or whoever house that is burnt in Nigeria,” he said.
A careful appraisal of the response of the military under Air Chief Badeh reveals a fundamental weakness: the inability of the military to anticipate security upheavals.
Or how else would one explain the sacking of an entire Mubi Community, Chibok Community, several other communities in the northeast and Mobile Police College in Gwoza near Maiduguri, by Boko Haram group without any prior intelligence information or resistance by the multitude of military and police officers deployed to the places including a Division of the Nigerian Army?
Such an affront cannot happen in any other country. Take Cameroun for instance, it took their security forces only 48 hours to rescue the wife of the country’s deputy Prime Minister when she was kidnapped by the same terrorist group.
The spate of terrorist attacks across the country during Badeh’s regime gave much stress and pressure on the security and intelligence agencies. But the stress and pressure of events should have revealed their weaknesses and served as catalyst for change of attitude and methods for effectiveness. But tragically, what we observed was a process of degeneration of conditions within the agencies exposing them to being taken by further surprises from time to time.
The heartbeat of any security and intelligence agency in its “intelligence cycle” of activities is intelligence production and analysis.
“Murderers, wife beaters, alcoholics, swindlers, embezzlers- the bottom feeders of the world, who had already broken the country’s law – are the raw material out of which any networks have historically been built”, wrote Arthur Herman in The 35-Year War on the CIA (commentary, December 2009). Not necessarily anymore. Intelligence agencies are now staffed by highly educated persons – graduates from “Ivy League” universities and academies, urbane and well-traveled, can speak at least one, if not more, foreign language.
No doubt too, leadership not only at the analytic level but equally at the final decision-making level has a fair share of the blame for the unwholesome failure of intelligence system in Nigeria during the previous regime. And this is where the competence and strategy of both the CDS and other service Chiefs came to question. Having failed in his promise to extinguish the burning fire in the North-East by April 2014, the former CDS shouldn’t have been allowed to continue in office as he did.
Indeed, if Jonathan (based on intelligence reports) had relieved Badeh, Amosu and other service chiefs of their positions early enough, the current embarrassment and allegations of corrupt enrichment would not have happened and the funds allegedly stolen would have been judiciously utilized.
The fact remains that Badeh’s strategy of using security agents’ arrest and prosecution of terrorist offenders to serve as deterrence to others is never a panacea to the threats and challenges posed by terrorism. It is only a panacea or deterrence to the individuals caught and brought to justice but never those who are yet to be caught and who are still at large, free to plot fresh attacks in retaliation for those already caught and in furtherance of their evil goals which remain constant and living in form of ideology in their polluted consciousness. And that is exactly what is happening in the North-East today.

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