To fight the war against terrorism in the ongoing battle the Nigerian army is engaged in with Boko Haram operatives, the Federal Government has granted the armed forces alongside other relevant security agencies the go-ahead to begin mass recruitment.
During the National Security Council meeting in Abuja on Thursday, those in attendance emphasised on the importance for the recruitment.
A top military source intimated that the President issued the order in March following a briefing from Lt. Gen Kenneth Minimah, the Chief of Army Staff, about the on-going operations of the army.
The source, refusing to be named on the basis that he had no instruction to divulge on the matter, told PUNCH Newspaper that the army did not commence on the recruitment straightaway because they needed to expand training facilities in different locations in the country.
It was also learnt that the army would commence the enrolment in May 2014.
According to the source, “We have in the pipeline, the plan to recruit. We are holding it because we want to upgrade our facilities.
“The presidential directive to us to recruit was given in March when the COAS briefed the President. But the exercise would start next month (May)”
He added that following the Boko Haram and other security challenges, the enrollment would now hold twice a year, as against how it used to be held once a year.
Speaking to PUNCH, another source reiterated, “It is true that recruitment has to be beefed up. The Federal Government has granted that request but recruitment is not just the number.
“You must note that you cannot produce a soldier in three days or weeks; this is a serious business involving the requisite facilities for training.
“If you want to raise your recruitment for instance, from 1,000 recruits to 2, 000 per annum, you must increase the facilities for their training.
“And I can tell you that it takes time for you to increase such facilities. You see, the issue is that the country has neglected the Army for so long; several public commentators have questioned why public funds should be spent to maintain a large army when there is no war.
“But is it wise for you to start screaming where are the soldiers when you did not make arrangement for training just because there is a threat now?
“For you to increase the number of those being recruited, you have to increase the structures for recruitment because as you are recruiting, you are training.
However, Ben Okezie, a security consultant, criticised the army’s plan to enrol new recruits, stating it was late in coming.
He hold the notion that the government should recruit ex-service men instead and retired security officers who are indigenes of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states to provide intelligence on Boko Haram, since they are conversant with their states of origin. He emphasized that the nation couldn’t afford time to train the fresh recruit while the war against terrorism rages on.
He said, “This government is like a patient in the hospital whose psyche is disturbed by the drugs given to him. How can government recruit civilians into the Army? How long will it take to train them with many northern youths willing to join Boko Haram?
“Whenever there is recruitment, politicians will bring a long list of thugs and those they want to use during elections. Is this not what happened in the Niger Delta during the Amnesty programme?
“Recruiting civilians into the Army now is like going to the World Cup and you are now going to the village to recruit footballers. Boko Haram has trained its fighters long ago.”
Okezie also advised the government to constitute a special operation task force made up of serving and retired security personnel who are indigenes of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states to provide intelligence on Boko Haram, since they are conversant with their states of origin.
According to him, the task force members ought to be adequately paid and made to know that their mission was to save their states.
Max Gbanite, another security professional agreed that increasing the numbers of soldiers cannot help win the war against terrorism.
To declare that the nation was at war, was what the government needed to do, according to him. This, he explained would help them know what it would take to prosecute it.
Gbanite furthermore advised the government to mobilise the vigilante groups and contemplate the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle also called drones in the war against the insurgents.
He said, “The government must consider the use of human and electronic equipment for intelligence gathering. We must localise the war by using vigilance groups or civilian JTF. There is also a need for geo-spatial intelligence. We need to know whether Boko Haram has underground tunnels like Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
“If they have underground tunnels, drones can’t see them;so we will need human intelligence. I am disturbed that the sect is mimicking The Lord Resistance Army of Uganda by kidnapping children.”
Meanwhile, on Sunday, the Defence Headquarters stated that the military was satisfied with the ongoing operations against Boko Haram in Borno State.