Nigerian soldiers dying of thirst and starving to death after defeating Boko Haram, is a crying shame we should all condemn
There's a heart-rending video making the rounds online.
On the morning commute on Wednesday, Twitter shoved the disturbing video in my face.
Nigerian soldiers dressed in fatigues, wailed about their plight.
Some lay sprawled on the sun-scorched earth, dehydrated and starving.
“No water, no food” the soldiers lamented.
“Nigeria army no try”, said one soldier in smattering English.
“Boko Haram no kill us, na water na im wan come kill us…
“Buhari abeg do something about this”, the soldiers pleaded in unison.
I fought back tears.
You can watch the full video below:
The Nigerian Army has been swift in its denunciation of the video.
Army Spokesperson, Sani Kukasheka Usman, said the video was a mischievous piece of work.
“The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a video clip circulating on Social Media of soldiers alleging lack of food and water.
“We wish to state that the video clip was shot more than six months ago by some mischievous and disgruntled elements when 29 Task Force Brigade captured Alagarno Forest and environs in Borno State.
“It is disheartening that some mischievous elements have decided to circulate it now, creating the false impression that it is a recent occurrence.
“We wish to state further that the matter was conclusively investigated at the time, several months ago. The Board of Inquiry actually showed that, as at the time of the incident, the unit’s water tanker still contained water, but a soldier mischievously concealed it. That soldier was charged and punished accordingly.
“In addition to the unit’s water tanker, a borehole was subsequently drilled at the location and it is still serving both the military and adjoining communities.
“We wish to restate with utmost concern the continued commitment of the Nigerian Army to the total welfare of all its personnel”.
It was certainly not one of Usman’s best press statements.
It really doesn’t matter if the video was shot six months ago, six years ago, sixteen years ago or sixty-nine years into the future.
That soldiers who are putting their lives on the line just so that the rest of the country is safe, can be treated this way in the first instance, is the source of worry and concern here.
The timing of the video is immaterial. It could have been shot during the days of Jesus for all we care.
Here's the question we should be collectively posing: were those Nigerian soldiers in that video?
If the answer to that question is yes, then that statement from the Army becomes even more annoying and irritating.
Who was the soldier who allegedly concealed a water tanker so that his colleagues could die of thirst? Does he have a name?
What became of him?
You can’t tag people begging for water and food—and who are dropping on the floor like flies from starvation—“disgruntled and mischievous elements”.
That’s the height of insensitivity. Whoever wrote or authorised that statement shouldn't be served his day's ration.
Nigerians are shocked because they didn’t expect that their soldiers will be begging for food under a President Muhammadu Buhari who rode to power on the back of a promise to reform the Army.
Nigerians are gutted because Buhari promised to rid the military rank and file of corrupt military bosses who steal meal allowances meant for the fighting troops.
Six months ago is still Buhari’s Army. That should worry us.
It suggests that we still have plenty of work to do as it pertains ridding the Army of entrenched corruption.
If soldiers who had just liberated a community from the clutches of Boko Haram can be left without water and food in the baking sun, then the rest of us can actually go home now.