Sequel to the revelation by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant- General Tukur Buratai, that politicians have been approaching the military for a possible overthrow of the civilian government, the Nigerian Army has placed some officers on surveillance and may also take extraordinary measures aimed at flushing would-be ‘political soldiers’ out of the system.
Not stopping at that, the military top hierarchy has held a meeting to look into the matter, and is also set to deal with officers found to be hobnobbing with politicians, while the affected politicians would be prosecuted, the Saturday Telegraph has learnt.
The measures, which include but not limited to arrests, detention and possible trial will serve as a deterrent, once a case of ‘politicking’ is established against any group of officers.”I think the surveillance is on, and officers that may wish to test the resolve of the Army authorities, will have their doubts cleared”, a military source told our correspondent.
This is coming on the heels of the alarm raised by former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday, in which he alerted that Nigeria and indeed Africa was sitting on a keg of gunpowder, which may explode anytime soon, if urgent measures are not put in place to nip an impending crisis in the bud.
Obasanjo who spoke during an interview session with the BBC, lamented that the unemployment rate among Africa’s large youthful population is potentially dangerous. Explaining that 60 per cent of the continent’s population is under the age of 25 and half of those do not have a job, the former president suggested a better education system as an answer to the problem. “My greatest fear is the youths. We have over 60 per cent of our population under the age of 25, and more than 50 per cent of them are unemployed, it is dangerous.
We are all sitting on a keg of gunpowder”, he said during the chat with Africa Business Report while talking about his greatest fear for the continent. Indications also emerged last night that the recent shake-up in the Army, might not be unconnected with alleged attempts by politicians to influence some officers. Saturday Telegraph gathered from highly-placed military sources, that the decision of the Chief of Army Staff, to post 146 senior officers, may be a “pre-emptive and strategic step”, to nip any unlikely development in the bud.
It will be recalled that the Army had, on May 10, announced the posting of 146 senior officers, including some General Officers Commanding (GOCs), and some operational commanders. A few days ago, the COAS raised the alarm, that politicians were approaching some officers for undisclosed reasons. Military sources, who spoke with Saturday Telegraph on the matter, said the redeployment “was strategic, because an officer, who has spent a certain number of years on command or other positions, needs to be redeployed.”
One of the sources, who spoke in confidence, however, clarified that ‘the COAS’ decision does not, in any way, suggest that the affected senior officers were involved in any alleged disruptive plan. According to the officer: “You know that some people can be mischievous sometimes, and that is why this clarification has become necessary.
“Like I told you earlier on, it was purely a strategic and tactical way of ensuring that the military in general, and the Army in particular, continues to remain apolitical. “If you read our Chief’s (Buratai’s) warning, you will understand that there is no room for any upset now or in the future.
“Politicians can be funny, and the best way of neutralising whatever counter-productive plan some of them may have, is to ensure routine postings of officers and even soldiers.” The Director, Army Public Relations (DAPR), Brigadier General Sani Usman, did not reply a text message sent to him, as at press time yesterday.