By Augustine Ehikioya
Faulting some online reports, the Nigerian Army has declared that the phantom report purporting disquiet in the Army is a failed attempt at institutional blackmail.
The reports had maintained that there was disquiet in the Nigerian Army over poor equipment and welfare.
A statement issued on Wednesday by the Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, and made available to Security Watch Africa (SWA), also described the alleged plan by soldiers to protest in Abuja as ‘mischievous’.
The statement also said that the working conditions and welfare of serving officers and soldiers have greatly improved under the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya.
It reads “The attention of the Nigerian Army (NA) has been drawn to yet another mischievous report peddled by some online media, alleging serving officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army are planning to storm Abuja, to protest over unpaid emoluments, poor working conditions and other unsubstantiated allegations.
“Judging by the unprofessional and irresponsible manner in which the release was made, citing faceless persons, it could have been ignored. However, the weighty nature of the claims demands some clarification for the sake of well meaning Nigerians.
“It is on record that officers and soldiers of the NA under the leadership of Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya, like never before, have witnessed exceptional positive changes in the moral and physical components of the force.
“It is therefore crucial to state in very clear terms, that the NA has never had it so good, given the quantum of combat and logistics equipment that have been injected into the theatres of operations, a circumstance that has evidently turned the tide against the complex array of threats facing the nation.
“This is in addition to welfare packages introduced by the current leadership of the NA. More also, aside prompt payment of salaries and operational allowances, welfare flights have been inaugurated, which significantly reduced the burden of troops travelling in and out of the theatres to see their loved ones.”
It added “This is also in addition to huge commitment on the medical needs of wounded-in-action officers and soldiers and the barracks communities. Scholarships are also being awarded to children of officers and soldiers killed in action in the ongoing operations.
“It is worthy of note, that across all NA Barracks there are deliberate efforts at providing conducive working and living conditions for troops and their families.
“These interventions in the form of massive barracks construction and renovation works, with visible footprints are bringing succour to NA personnel nationwide.
“The desperate effort by the authors of this unpatriotic report to give ethnic and religious coloration to the activities of the NA, is nothing but an inglorious attempt to woo unsuspecting members of the public with bigotry bargains, laced heavily with evil intent.”
The Army insisted that the NA remains a symbol of national unity and cannot afford to be divided along ethnic or religious lines.
The statement went on “Suffice to state that the NA under the current leadership has remained resolute in carrying out its constitutional role and will vigorously continue to implement welfare programs for the benefit of all personnel.
“Troops deployed in ongoing operational engagements are putting in their best for the nation and should be encouraged, rather than plotting disaffection amongst them.”
The statement urged all personnel to remain steadfast and unswayed by the antics of ‘unpatriotic elements, who for selfish gains want to plunge the nation into chaos.”