For the people of Kaduna state, Northwest Nigeria, abnormal means an abduction free day. In recent times, the people have witnessed repeated attacks and several abductions as effect of the fast breakdown of security in the state.
The situation, according to the people, does not mirror the reputation the state as the home of some of the most critical military establishments Nigeria has.
These establishments include Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), 1 Infantry Division, Command and Staff College and Nigerian Army School of Infantry (NASI), both at Jaji; Nigerian Army School of Artillery (NASA), and the Nigerian Navy School of Armament Technology, both at Kachia; Nigerian Air Force Institute of Technology; Nigerian Military School and Nigerian Army School of Military Police, both in Zaria.
The state is also home to a depot of the Nigerian Army, a training center for old soldiers. The existence of NDA, 1 Division, Air Force Base, and some military cantonments in Kaduna has earned the historical capital Northern Nigeria the name and fame – The Garrison Town.
Apart from these military establishments, Kaduna also has a Police Training College. Yet, on Thursday, March 11, terrorists stormed the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, at the outskirts of Kaduna metropolis, and herded away 39 students.
About 40 days after, on Tuesday April 20, in between which there were varying degrees of security breaches, terrorists pounced on a private university, Greenfield University, just 40 kilometers from the metropolis, along the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway and whisked away 22 students.
Residents, who spoke with HumAngle, said they had expected that with these age-old military establishments, the state should be virtually terror-free. According to them, the array of military establishments should either scare terrorists away from the state or, at worse, confine terror activities to the state’s farthest fringes.
They also expected the existence of this enviable cluster of military establishments to critically advise the military authorities to deploy every relevant strategy to ensure that the spate of terror activities in the state do not, as they now actually do, constitute the most humiliating slight on the establishments which have been revered over the decades as the most competent military training institutions in West Africa.
However, as though such establishments do not exist in Kaduna State, terror activities across the state are worsening by the day, not only desolating hundreds of rural communities and rendering many more highly inhabitable, but they have rendered all routes leading to the state capital, Kaduna, virtually the most-dreaded for travelers in the now terror-troubled Northwest geopolitical zone.
“If we have all these military institutions and security establishments in Kaduna State, but they cannot guarantee us the security we require to sleep and move around in and out of the state; and cannot insulate us from the heat of trauma oozing from from terror activities, then we can say that they only operate to train military personnel, not to protect the communities where they are sited,” a veteran journalist, Tajudeen Ajibade, told HumAngle.
“With these institutions, even if to save the military from being scolded, considering the fact that terror is ravaging the communities where they are sited, and they were established to train personnel to combat terrorists, among other enemies of the Nigerian state, Kaduna State should be savouring better security than do most other states of the country,” he added.
“The fact, however, is that these institutions seem to have been established only to train military personnel on the art of warfare,” Ajibade said, maintaining, however that “the officers trained in these institutions do not seem to be trained on the asymmetric warfare which the non-state armed groups have mastered.”
According to him, the military comprises officers and soldiers, but these institutions and establishments train only the officers, excluding the footsoldiers forming the majority of the troops actually fighting the terrorists in a warfare they have also not been trained on, but which the terrorists have mastered.
“So in the context of the insecurity troubling Kaduna State, the existence of these institutions and establishments in the state seem to be of inconsequential use, supposing that their presence in the state should guarantee some security,” Ajibade noted.
Andrew Fadason also drew a sharp contrast between the presence of these military establishments in Kaduna State and the escalating insecurity in the state.
“It is an irony actually that you have these institutions in Kaduna State, but we are witnessing an escalation of insecurity,” he opined but noted that “we have to understand that having them in the state does not necessarily mean that they properly deployed to combat the current insecurity.”
“For example, I heard that there is a unit offering training on containing insecurity at the Jaji Command and Staff College and, so, considering that why is insecurity worsening?” Fadason asked.
He continued: “NASA is domiciled at Kachia and the personnel there should, therefore, be deployed to combat the insecurity in the Kachia/Kagarko axis. Therefore, why do personnel have to be mobilized from other formations to combat insecurity where NASA is domiciled and should efficiently do so?”
“In the current context of insecurity, supposing the personnel in them can, by law, be deployed to combat any form of insecurity and violent crimes in their location of domicile, these institutions do not seem to be of much use,” Fadason said.
Meanwhile, Major Abubakar Mohammed (rtd), who was the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, said that the military establishments in Kaduna lack commensurate manpower to tackle the crisis.
“The insecurity in Kaduna State has worsened to the point requiring a roundtable of all the security agencies in the state to examine the problem holistically,” he said.
Maj. Mohammed added that the military institutions in Kaduna only train personnel who are dispersed to other formations.
He also dismissed claims that terrorists have superior arms over the military troops. He said that even without these establishments in Kaduna, “the Nigerian military has the best arms and equipment to fight insecurity and other forms of violent crimes.”
He blamed the inability of the Nigerian military and other security agencies to crush the raging insecurity on what he described as corruption among officers, favouritism and nepotism in the recruitment method of the junior officers and rank and file, and the lack of commitment on the part of the government to punish culprits.
“Punish culprits appropriately and recruit the best, insecurity will successfully be combated,” he advised.