Photo credit: SaharaReporters
Nigerian Army personnel attached to the 159 Battalion, Geidam (Sector 2), Yobe State, have threatened to abandon their duty post over their neglect by military authorities.
In a letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly, United Nations, African Union and several other organisations, the soldiers expressed sadness over their long stay in the volatile North-East region, revealing that many of them had been pushed into a state of depression as a result of the situation.
Additionally, the soldiers, most of whom had participated in operations in Liberia in the past, disclosed that they are being exploited by insensitive superiors for personal and material gains.
According to them, their families back home had been made to endure all sorts of suffering during the period they have served Nigeria with their lives in the war against Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East.
The letter reads, “We wish to bring to your notice that we have overstayed here in the North-East.
“We were inducted in this operation on July 10, 2016 to fight Boko Haram insurgency after spending a year in Liberia.
“Presently, we are covering the following locations of Dapchi, Bamari and Kanama to Niger border.
“This is our fourth year in the battlefront fighting and we have not been changed from this operation. The other battalions we came with and even those ones that came after us have all been withdrawn. We are the oldest infantry battalion in the North-East yet they don't want to change us.
“We have complained to the Chief of Army Staff and he promised to rotate us. He even told our families the same thing but till now nothing has been done or said about it.
“We are from 1 Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State.
“If the North-East was like United Nations operation, a place where there is money, we would have been changed after six months or at most one year and it would have been based on god-fatherism. But we have been forgotten because we don't know any god-father.
“Since we have been here, this is the second President, the second Senate, the 2nd CDS, the 2nd COAS, the 5th Theatre commander, the 5th 7 Division GOC, the 6th Brigade Commander, the 4th Commanding Officer and the 5th Acting CO that we have worked under and none of them have had the feeling of changing our battalion from this North-East.
“After bringing peace, victory and honour to Nigeria, all we get back is suffering and rejection.
“Since we came to this operation; there has been no changes, no special promotion, no issuing of uniforms, boots and combat kits. Instead, we end up buying it with our money.
"There have been no good feeding, in fact we are fed like slaves.
“Soldiers of 159 Battalion are now suffering from depression, stress, lack of feeding, poor admin, family problems, psychological trauma.
“We are begging the President, the CDS and COAS to look into our case because our homes have 'scattered' and some of our children don't know us anymore.
"It is only four times that we have had pass in four years. Our children now see us as strangers, some of our parents died of high blood pressure.
“We have lost a lot. We want the army authorities to change us before it gets too late.
“Any Brigade Commander and Commanding Officer posted here only use us to make money for themselves and go.
“We are really tired of this place, we want to go back to our unit and meet our families.
“To the governor and lawmakers from Yobe State, this is a warning to you all. Soon, your people will start running away from their homes because we are no longer happy. We are ready to leave the local government areas we are covering should attack come."
This is not the first time that army personnel deployed to the North-East to combat Boko Haram terrorists would be complaining of neglect and lack of equipment to carry out their duties, the embarrassing situation has become an integral part of the deep-rooted corruption bedevilling Nigeria's military setting over the years.
In the face of these glaring hurdles and failure of the authorities to act, soldiers have continued to pay the supreme price in a war government continues to plough more resources into but have only little to show for it in terms of success.