As 689 new officers were commissioned into the armed forces on Saturday, President Muhammadu Buhari has told the military that they must defeat the ideologies that promote mindless killings and anarchy, saying that, Nigeria is confronted by enemies whose identities and motivations are unknown
President Buhari stated this while reviewing the combined passing out parade of the cadets of the 64 Regular Course of the Army, Navy and Air Force), the 65 Regular Course of the Navy and Air Force), and the Short Service Course 44 of the Army.
The President who was represented by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo said, the swift evolution in suicide bombings is a perfect illustration of the nature of the threats that nations face today, which are unpredictable, asymmetric, constantly adapting to changing conditions and driven by a compulsive need to inflict maximum damage with minimal effort.
Addressing the newly commissioned officers of the challenges ahead of them, Buhari said, the world has gotten to a stage where people can now learn production of explosive device on the internet.
He therefore, challenged the military to answer the question of how to defeat the ideologies that promote mindless killings and anarchy.
According to him, “The world has changed a great deal in the time since today’s graduating classes enrolled into the NDA. The threats that confront us a nation and as a planet have evolved and continue to evolve. Forty years ago, a Speech like this would have been situated firmly within the context of the Cold War with its well-defined ideologies, and distinct warring parties.
“Today we speak of non-State Actors and of asymmetric warfare, and are confronted by enemies that whose identities are as nebulous as their motivations. It feels like yesterday when the earliest high-profile Boko Haram suicide bombings happened in Nigeria.
“If I recall correctly the bombing of the Police Headquarters in Abuja was the first major incident to hit the national consciousness. It was a surreal moment, something that no one associated with Nigeria. It was not uncommon, at that time, to hear people argue that the perpetrators had to have been of foreign origin, as it was not in the nature or personality of Nigerians to be suicide bombers.
“This was only about six years ago. In the time since we have come to grow accustomed to suicide bombings and by Nigerians no less. The targets evolved rapidly, from symbols of authority like the Police Headquarters and the United Nations Building in Abuja, to encompass soft targets bus stations, religious houses, markets. And again very quickly we started to see a trend of female suicide bombers.
“It is worthy of note that until about 2013, the phenomenon of female suicide bombers was virtually unknown in the Boko Haram insurgency. A short four years later, it is one of the defining elements of the insurgency, young girls, some not even teenagers yet, laden with explosives and sent off as harbingers of death and destruction.
“This is therefore the question we ought to be asking ourselves: are our Armed Forces evolving with a similar speed and urgency, are they adapting with a similar nimbleness? How do we evolve rules of engagement in asymmetric warfare situations? Should we be redefining the borders of the Geneva Convention in the light of military engagements with armed militant combatants? Can we observe the same human rights rules where suicide bombers and persons determined to die and take with them as many innocent lives as possible? Are they enemy we must confront? What are the borders of the right to privacy and freedom of expression on the internet? What is the responsibility of Nations of the world in policing the internet, which has become a virtual training ground for much good and as much evil.
“Some of the early analyses of yesterday’s bombing in a London tube suggest that tutorials for making the explosive devices used are available on the internet. How can the military get ahead of the curve on communications in the age of the fast, cheap and available communication for all?
“We must also answer the question of how to defeat the ideologies that promote mindless killings and anarchy. But just as important as these issues around conflict are the issues around how the military can in the process of innovating or thinking through military uses of science and technology can add real value to the society and nation it has sworn to defend.
“At this point let me say that I am pleased to note that the NDA has itself been positioning itself as a hub for innovation. I am already aware of inventions such as an Automated Pop-Up Target System, a Multi-Purpose Combat Mobile Robot, and a Perimeter Surveillance Robot, which the NDA has showcased at various science and technology exhibitions in the recent past. This is laudable and I urge you to sustain the culture.
“I would also like to urge you to collaborate more extensively with the private sector, for research and innovation. All around the country technology hubs are springing up that are attracting our Nigeria’s brightest talent, and breaking new technological ground. I am convinced that the military should make its presence felt in this area.
“Let me of course also commend the management of the NDA for your efforts so far in adapting your curriculum and programmes to contemporary realities. I have been told of the recent paradigm shift in the Academy’s training calendar, such that Naval and Air Force cadets now spend only four years in the Academy and then move to their respective bases, in place of the old system that saw them spend all five years in the Academy. By allowing them to spend their final year within their respective bases is a clear indication of the commitment to producing better-trained and better-prepared Naval and Air Force graduates”, he said.
The President therefore charged the new officers to contribute their own quota to the defence of their fatherland, saying that, they belong to a special breed of young Nigerians, who model the highest form of patriotism and love of country as they have sworn to defend the nation with their lives, as armed forces personnel.
“You have an obligation to commit yourself to the never-ending task of nation-building, especially at a time like this when our country is urgently in need of peace, unity and cohesion. As you join your senior colleagues in the field, you will be obligated to contribute your own quota to the defence of your fatherland.