By Sabo Odeh
To say the least, I am amused, with the apparent self-contradiction by Comrade Yinka Odumakin, a veiled politician, masquerading as a social activist of the Afenifere stuff. He has just pierced himself with a sharp knife.
In a published piece captioned “What is wrong with Buratai’s Army,” Odumakin , was on a voyage of perfidy, but truth held him back to unconsciously declare that “Less I am accused of crying wolf where there is none…, ” thus watering the substance of his arsenals as an attack dog.
Obviously a hatchet job, Odumakin had taken scathing jabs at the Nigerian Army under the leadership of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai for executing its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) through the free medical outreach programmes in host communities in Nigeria.
I immediately sensed in him shadows of a desperate politician and ethnic chauvinist groping for cogent reasons to deliver what he presumed to be an irrecoverable punch on the institution of the Nigerian Army. In so doing, he simultaneously minced no words in expressing his veiled hatred, ethnic bigotry and aversion to the leadership of Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Therefore, the short piece was replete with confounding blunders and contradictions to a level of even confessing to the truthfulness of some of the issues he held sacrosanct as weapons to disparage the Nigerian Army. Nigerians are known for their flair for flaunting an identity far from their innermost convictions.
When I perused Odumakin’s piece, his image as the last don of this clan of reprehensible characters assailed my senses as the sole motivation for his baseless umbrage. The writer knows beyond doubt that the speculated news about soldiers of the “Operation Python Dance II” inoculating school children in parts of Nigeria with vaccines infused with the deadly Monkey Pox virus is a mere rumour, patently false and unfounded.
Also, Odumakin knows the peddlers are miscreants, which antagonizing politicians have deployed against the Federal Government under the Buhari Presidency to discredit the Army. He knows, the Nigerian Army has not stepped into any school or community to administer free medication without the consent of relevant authorities, as attested by the presence of government officials and traditional rulers at the flag-off of the programme by “Operation Python Dance II,” or “Operation Crocodile Smile II.”
I can bet to high heavens that Odumakin has no evidence or proof of any reported incident of death arising from any medication by the Army in any of the places it has been administered. Yet, he elected upon himself to add strength to the tantalizing wind, flesh up the wild and destructive rumour tales by enthusing a confirmation and rehearse of the speculations as;
“The rumour mongers of course succeeded because the Nigerian state already lost credibility with the people. The idea of medical mission by the military is not totally alien.”
The exposition by Odumakin confirms the current deliberate attempts to put Nigeria in disarray. More than anything else, his plot to destroy the reputation of the Nigerian Army by lending credence to a rumour is visible, hence Odumakin admits that the Army’s free medical programmes is not strange to the people. And so, by any stretch of imagination, Buratai’s Army, as he puts it, could not have launched it because it was handed an agenda of depopulating some regions as he claimed.
And he was right in the sense that the Nigerian Army under General Buratai had undertaken these CSR projects as far back as 2015 when he assumed office as the COAS. No one raised eyebrows and the CSR projects have extended beyond Medicare to cover water, roads and electricity projects across Nigeria.
These are facts on the fingertips of every Nigerian, Odumakin inclusive. But bolstered by the desperation to deliver on the assignment of executing a selfish and ethnic political agenda, handed down to him by his pay masters, he dramatized the artificial panic scenarios created by the rumours, shamelessly in these comic words; “I saw a woman scaling a fence that even men will have difficulty climbing in order to get hold of her child.” But the writer failed to notify Nigerians further whether the panicked woman who scaled a fence sustained a broken rib or leg and which hospital admitted her.
Somewhat petulant and resisting the aura of truth, as reflected in subsisting realities, Odumakin confessed he was motivated to drop his lines after watching General Buratai’s advertisement of his proposed “empowerment programme for internally displaced persons,” “on Channels TV on Saturday.” And his pedestrian reasoning for condemning the advert hinged on the inaccessibility of IDPs to television sets and so, “This advert is therefore not for them.”
Yes, the advert is not for them! But he missed the point that the advert is meant for demonic souls like him and the other agents, experts and specialists in rumour peddling. It is meant to forestall concocted tales on the Nigerian Army to the effect that it has again sneaked into IDPs camps to dish out “poisoned items or cash,” to hapless victims of armed internal conflicts.
I am the least surprised that Odumakin would remember the selfless and humanitarian services rendered to IDPs from time immemorial by the Nigerian Army. They treated the wounded in camps, offered them a share of their loaf of bread, and operated makeshift schools, where soldiers spared time out of their tight schedules to teach children of IDPs in camps.
Then, Odumakin never questioned whether soldiers have become teachers or the loaves of bread were poisoned. But himself and the group/ organization he represents never perceived these humanitarian crisis as worthy of intervention by rendering assistance. When soldiers camped repentant insurgents; de-radicalized and de-militarized terrorists with a new orientation and absorbed them into the sane society, Odumakin and buddies never questioned whether soldiers have become psychologists.
When soldiers pushed by the passion of humanity, stretched themselves to rescue trapped victims of kidnappers in the Niger Delta, free of charge, they were not queried for usurping the responsibilities of civil security. That’s the extent of hypocrisy in us, which is actively and relentlessly promoted by the likes of Odumakin.
So, he was indiscernibly piqued with General Buratai’s appearance on BBC “Hard Talk” programme; forgetting in his peevish idiosyncrasies that aside being the COAS, General Buratai doubles as the leader of the Counter-Insurgency Operations in Nigeria. Consequently, he owes eager Nigerians a sacred obligation to once in a while explain the progress, challenges and developments concerning the counter-insurgency operations in the country.
If America’s Secretary of States, Mr. Rex Tillerson admits that fighting insurgency across the globe is beyond the sound of weapons on the battlefield alone, as propaganda is also key, I cannot understand Odumakin’s failure to decode the dynamics.
But to embellish clannish and selfish sentiments to appear as a patriotic national cause, the writer cleverly encased it in political ambitions of the military/Army, with stale historical allusions. I cannot buy the idea that yesterday’s coup history, would dictate today’s signals for a coup just because the Army has decided to be selfless and humane to the people they serve or use the media as a counter-terrorism strategy. Coups generally are unfashionable in any part of the world, as democracy has triumphed defiantly even in Nigeria.
The Nigerian Army, particularly under the watch of General Buratai has not only consistently pledged subordination to civil authority and defended Nigeria’s democracy, but soldiers have been re-oriented, re-professionalized and disciplined. It explains why the Nigerian Army especially has excelled in all its assignments, observing the best practices of professionalism, upholding human rights and sticking religiously to rules of engagements in all assignments.
The Nigerian Army’s current leadership’s aversion to coups is not in doubt. Some elements in the country, which Odumakin strikes as one believes everything in Nigeria, must be tied to politics and the feeling becomes more overt when they fail to clinch appointments in patronage. These were the same forces which wanted a military coup in Nigeria and sprouted a rumour to this effect.
They allegedly had their names penned down for juicy appointments, as PR Managers and so on, before the Army leadership by Gen. Buratai thwarted this obnoxious plan by issuing a rebuttal statement and placed soldiers on secret surveillance. And still pained by this frustration, they think, extracting their pound of flesh against the Army Chief is to haul any balderdash at him or the Army, whether real or imagined. It cannot work!
The Nigerian Army is adamantly professionalized, as attested by the global encomiums poured on them. It is not a fluke, but a product of careful assessments by independent international bodies and governments.
I agree that accusations can surface from time to time. It’s normal and no one has the capacity to restrain anybody from cooking allegations against the Army. But several probe panels and independent civil society organizations have proven such accusations as a farce and vindicated the Nigerian Army. The ongoing Presidential Probe Panel is almost left with no job to do, as the accusers of the Nigerian Army of crimes against humanity are refusing to step out to substantiate their claims. Amnesty International (AI), a leading crusader in this direction has declined appearance too.
I believe, Odumakin is less informed or deliberately malicious for personal reasons. We have seen situations where the Army bent backwards to accept unprovoked armed attacks on them, without reprisal reactions, as recently recorded in Abia state in the build-up to the commencement of the “Operation Python Dance II.”
My candid advice to Odumakin and coy is that they are free to hate the Buhari Presidency to any length. But he has no liberty to extend to the limits of attempting to discredit the Nigerian Army, with infantile speculations. He lives on politicians and thinks everyone in government should invite him for lunch. But today, there is a new order in Nigeria and he must discard the old mentality to be at peace with his soul.
In recent times, the likes of Yinka Odumakin have demonstrated a penchant for selective interpretations of our laws and its applications as it suit their debased thoughts to push illegitimate gains. We shall therefore not allow him to dance naked on the graves of our founding fathers by allowing these tissues of falsehood to settle down anywhere near sane minds.
No amount of blackmail can intimidate the Nigerian Army and its leadership under General Buratai from protecting and defending the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Odumakins can again mask to try a new style another day; but the one of today under activism is sinister. It has become stale and useless.
Odeh is a public affairs analyst and contributed this piece from No19 Anthony Enahoro Street, Utako, Abuja.