Immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, Air Chief Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh, has rated the Nigerian military he presided over as under-equipped and poorly trained.
He particularly asserted that the personnel of the armed forces have not received requisite training for several years.
Badeh however warned the Nigerian armed forces to stop its overdependence on foreign countries for its operations.
The former CDS gave the shocking assessment of the military in Abuja in his valedictory speech when he was pulled out from the Service, yesterday.
Badeh stressed that other nations’ militaries are equipped and trained in peace time for the conflicts they are likely to confront in the future.
He said: “Unfortunately, that has not been our experience as a country. Over the years, the military was neglected and under-equipped to ensure the survival of certain regimes, while other regimes, based on counsel from some foreign countries, deliberately reduced the size of the military and underfunded it.
“Unfortunately, our past leaders accepted such recommendations without appreciating our peculiarities as a Third World military, which does not have the technological advantage that could serve as force multipliers and compensate for reduced strength.
“Accordingly, when faced with the crises in the North-East and other parts of the country, the military was overstretched and had to embark on emergency recruitments and trainings, which were not adequate to prepare troops for the kind of situation we found ourselves. It is important therefore for the government to decide on the kind of military force it needs, by carrying out a comprehensive review of the nation’s military force structure to determine the size, capability and equipment holding required to effectively defend the nation and provide needed security.”
“This is based on the fact that without security, there cannot be sustainable development. The huge cost that would be required to rebuild the North East and other trouble spots in the country could have been avoided if the military had been adequately equipped and prepared to contain the ongoing insurgency before it escalated to where it is today,” he said.
On Nigeria’s overdependence on foreign assistance, Badeh said: “As I finally disengage, I have this message for my countrymen and the armed forces of Nigeria. I want to state emphatically that no nation can achieve its full security potential by totally depending on other nations for its defence needs. The lessons of the civil war and the ongoing war against terror where certain countries frustrated our attempts to procure the needed weapons are very instructive.
“Again, as I have always said, when a nation is at war, it is not the military alone that is at war, it is the entire nation. Accordingly, every segment of society must see itself contributing to the overall war effort, by presenting a united front against a common enemy.
“Therefore, I appeal to the relevant agencies of government to mobilise the huge human and material resources we have in this country towards the development of a vibrant Defence Industrial Complex that would contribute to meeting our critical arms and equipment needs. This is crucial if we must reduce our total dependence on foreign sources of supply for critically needed arms. That is the only way we can retain our dignity as a nation in order to have freedom of action in international affairs” Badeh said.
Badeh expressed deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty God for giving him the opportunity to serve his fatherland in his military career.
“When I commenced my career in the Nigerian Air Force as a cadet in the Nigerian Defence Academy about 38 years ago, little did I know that destiny will take me, not only to the pinnacle of my Service as the 18th Chief of Air Staff, but also to the position of the 15th Chief of Defence Staff of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. Looking back at how God lifted me from my very humble beginnings, through the various ranks and appointments to the pinnacle of my career, I can only say a very big thank you to the Almighty God who directed my steps, protected and empowered me to serve my beloved country. Like the saying goes, ‘whatever has a beginning must surely have an end’. My journey in the Service of my fatherland as a member of the Armed Forces of Nigeria which began on the 3rd of January, 1977 in the Nigerian Defence Academy has finally come to an end. Accordingly, as I bow out today (yesterday), I look forward to a deserved and happy retirement,” Badeh said.