Former Military Head of State, Gen Ibrahim Babangida (retd.), has stated that the 1967-1970 civil war was successful because the government bought the necessary weapons, got the people’s support and had quality personnel to defend the country.
Babangida expressed concern over the state of insecurity in the country, while urging the Federal Government to urgently equip the military with modern arms and training to adequately confront the problem.
The former president, who spoke in an interview with BBC Hausa Service monitored on Sunday, said it had become imperative for citizens to support the government and soldiers in order to bring an end to the crisis but not without adequately equipping the military with modern weapons and training.
Asked if he believed Nigerian soldiers needed modern weapons, he said, “Yes, they do. They also need to be trained on how to use the modern weapons, not to get weapons and just hand over to them. They should be trained.
On whether he had ever advised the Federal Government on ways to end insecurity, Babangida said, “We give advice as we can but we don’t make noise about it. We don’t announce that this is what we say. We should unite. We should support those in power; we are all working towards achieving the same goal. Between the leaders and citizens, we need peace and a harmonious relationship.
“This problem of insecurity, every government had its experience but if we unite… I remember how we fought the civil war for three years, the people supported the government, the government did its best, bought what was necessary. Those who fought were made to understand that this country is the best for them.
“It’s not only in Nigeria, many countries encountered this kind of problem. Some had it for ten years but through concerted efforts, they are out of it. I believe we can get out of this problem. Both citizens and those governing are trying, but we should know that it is not an easy task.”
On whether politicians are playing the required role to bring an end to insecurity, Babangida said there were many things that had to be put right, noting that “if they agree to sit down and think over, I believe success will be achieved.”
On what to put right, he said it is important to rally round soldiers and other security agents, support them and let them know the citizens are behind them.
“Provide them with all they require and let them know this is their country, they’ve no other country better than this,” he said.
Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Attahiru Ibrahim, had told the National Assembly that troops fighting insurgency in the North-East, banditry in the North-West and other parts of the country lack the requisite arms and ammunition to fight insecurity.