For a country facing the type of security challenges such Nigeria, the level of personnel of its Armed Forces and other security agencies is too low to be comfortable, the House of Representatives Committee on Army, has said.
The committee said this Thursday when it visited Delta Company of the 251 Task Force Battalion- one of the frontlines military locations in Borno state.
Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Rimamnde Shawulu, said military officers in the frontlines are usually overstretched “giving the fact that they have to perform duties that are not directly military roles.”
He said: “The United Nations recommendation about personnel of the armed forces is ratio of 10 percent of the population. What we have in this country and here in the frontlines is much lower than what is required. This means that officers and soldiers here are overstretched most of the time; and given the fact that they have to perform roles that are not directly military.
“All hands must be on deck. For a country facing the type of security challenges such as ours the level of personnel of the armed forces and other security agencies is too low to be comfortable.
“In the Niger Delta, and I also believe it also happening here too, commanders are engaged in peace building in communities. They resolve disputes in communities. This means they have a lot of work in their hands.
“We have seen the initiatives and efforts of the officers and soldiers are putting to securing the North East and Maiduguri metropolis. We have seen that they have a lot of work in their hands, and the equipment they have now is lesser than what they require to do their job.
“We have recommended in the Eight Assembly that is already winding up that we must take the security of the country much more than we have. We need to increase personnel and resources of our Armed Force; and more importantly we must ensure functionality of governments at the lower levels. When governments at the lower levels are functional certain basic responsibilities such as conflict resolution at the community levels can be handled by them and not by military commanders that are deployed to keep peace.
Yesterday the committee had a meeting with the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai and his commanders at the Command and Control Centre of Operation Lafiya Dole, where they were briefed by the military high command on the successes so far recorded in the fight against terrorism in the North East and some of the challenges faced at the theater.
“I think it is good for the civil society group and critics of the activities of the armed forces in the North East to visit the frontlines and see for themselves the challenges that our armed forces go through in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists,” Shawulu said.
“We were at the military hospital and we discovered that acoustic trauma is one of the major problems of soldiers that have fought in the battle. People become deaf due to the sounds of the weapons they fired overtime.”
Theater Commander, Maj. Gen. Benson Akinroluyo, said the committee would be better informed about the challenges faced by troops in the frontlines, thus push for more funds for the military operations.
He urged them to find a way to “bring other governmental support rather than leaving the crisis for the military alone to solve.”