Nigeria’s recently sacked chief of defense staff warned Thursday that the military was underfunded and underequipped in its fight against Boko Haram’s raging insurgency, despite a newly formed coalition force. Nigerian Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh, who was fired by President Muhammadu Buhari this month along with the entire military top brass, said troops also lacked motivation, Agence France-Presse reported.
In a farewell speech, Badeh laid the blame on “certain regimes.” The ex-army chief was appointed last year by Buhari’s predecessor, former President Goodluck Jonathan, who was widely criticized for underfunding, underequipping and undertraining Nigerian troops.
"I was head of a military that lacked the relevant equipment and motivation to fight an enemy that was invisible and embedded with the local populace," Badeh said Thursday, AFP reported. "Over the years, the military was neglected and underequipped to ensure the survival of certain regimes, while other regimes, based on advice from some foreign nations, deliberately reduced the size of the military and underfunded it.”
Badeh, a former air force chief before he was appointed head of defense staff, did not specify which administrations allegedly neglected the Nigerian military or which foreign countries purportedly advised them to do so. But he said the activities "of fifth columnists in the military and other security agencies who leaked operational plans and other sensitive military information to the terrorists" also made battling Boko Haram "particularly difficult,” AFP reported.
His ominous remarks came after a Nigerian commander was chosen to lead 8,700 troops from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria against the radical Islamic group. The new Multinational Joint Task Force will be headquartered in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, and the troops were expected to be operational soon, though no date has been specified.
Buhari appointed the former leader of the regional force, Maj. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, as Badeh’s replacement. Since taking over as Nigeria’s president in May, Buhari has reorganized the military and replaced its senior officials in an effort to clean up corruption and to confront Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency, which has taken at least 15,000 lives and displaced more than 1.5 million people.