By: Bukar Raheem
The plan by the Nigerian military to transform the Nigerian Army Institute of Technology and Environmental Studies NAITES in Makurdi, Benue State into a specialized military university must be seen as a welcome development due to the advantages it evinces to the entire nation.
Apart from the fact that the transformation will see to the upgrade of the institution from a mere certificate awarding one to one that will specialise in the training of military personnel in the recondite fields of technology and environmental studies, there are many other things that Nigeria stands to gain hence the proposed name of Nigerian Army University of Technology and Environmental Studies, NAUTES.
Reports indicate that a committee is already working on this and it’s recommendations subject to the approval of the convening authorities will soon be concluded.
But even before the committee submits its report, there are concerns being expressed about the relevance of the institutions as well as it’s proposed site in the North eastern part of the country.
The need for a second military university in Nigeria to complement the Nigeria Defence Academy cannot be over-emphasised.
Since the upgrade of the NDA to a degree awarding institution the quality of the Nigerian military in both character and studies have been enhanced tremendously to the glory and betterment of the country.
Through the academy, the military has come to fully appreciate the depth of scholarly endeavours, improved its personnel and has enhanced the proficiency, knowledge and capacity of its personnel without subjecting them to the scrutiny of the conventional universities.
The needed integration of the personnel with the civilian populace and reorientation in civility came naturally and without stress through advancement in scholarly works and exposure to critical and analytical thinking.
Thus even those opposed to the transformation have long been silenced seeing the concrete advantages accruing from the setting up of the institution.
The issue of the siting of the university is however one that needs to be comprehended to be fully appreciated.
Since some misguided youths took it upon themselves to take up arms against the Nigerian state in what is now. known as insurgency, the people of the north east have suffered immeasurable damage and deprivation.
They have seen loved ones either killed, maimed or taken away without the courage to utter the most subtle kind of resistance.
Their homes have been destroyed, schools burnt and destroyed while access to means of economic survival through commercial and agricultural engagements are shattered.
It was the advent of the current administration that has brought succour and relief to the populace through the curtailing of the activities of the insurgents and their technical defeat.
But in the wake of that victory comes the challenges of what needs to be done to rehabilitate the people who have suffered so much through no fault of theirs.
The federal government has set up various committees and has made much efforts to intervene to improve on the lot of the populace one of which is the presidential initiative on the north east.
Many organisation and well spirited individual have also intervened but what remains to be covered is quite enormous.
Aside the fact that the north east needs to be fully reintegrated into Nigeria by giving the people of the region a reason to once again believe in the cointry, there is the need for additional military presence in the area to ensure that the gains made in tackling the menace ate not lost or slowed to fritter away.
The psychology of having an additional military formation in the north east should be welcomed by all since it would go a long way in augmenting security arrangement in the area.
What many have not come to realise is that at the height of the activities of the insurgents, Nigeria has lost many military formations in the north with only very few standing at the moment.
During the immediate past administration, military and para military formations were captured by the insurgents, residents sacked or killed while large cache of weapons were carted away and used against the state and it’s people .
They include the barracks in Monguno, the mobile police training facility in Gwoza, Sambisa, and other para military formations in Bama and other places.
This exposes the weakness of the military as many of their strong holds have been captured or destroyed.
Even the well fortified Giwa Barracks in the state capital of Maiduguri has come under serious attack and parts of it was destroyed by insurgents intending to free their captured commanders.
Needless to say, if there is any region that is desirous of military formations that will enhance the presence of personnel and ensure the security of the population its the North east and idea of siting another military formations therw should not be viewed from the prism of geopolitical balancing as that would mean approaching the matter in a simplistic manner.
We can take the example of the governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai who when faced with the challenge of ensuring security in Southern Kaduna, quickly ran to the Defence Headquarters in Abuja and demanded for the establishment of military barracks there in addition to the ones already sending there.
To his credit, since the foundation stone for the barracks was laid, the rate of attacks and resultant crisis has abated.
Luckily, the Borno State government had allocated 5000 hectares of land for the setting up of the university while the military is planning to commence ce the next academic session from the new site in Biu, Borno State .
Biu is peculiar and stratification to the fight against insurgency due to its location on the southern fringes of Borno and due to the fact the insurgents had at the early stages tried to establish their base in the ancient town but were resisted by the people.
The need to sustain and coordinate such resistance which has largely been successful would go a long way in ensuring that the terrorists do not take a come back or fo beyond their places of hiding.
More so as the southern part of Borno State has been lacking in such facilities as most of the formations in Borno State are concentrated in the other senatorial zones.
Raheem a public affairs commentator writes from Kaduna.