Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Following identified shortfall in its manpower requirements, there are moves by the military high command to close the gap, THISDAY checks have revealed.
Investigation had revealed a 20 per cent shortfall in the manpower requirements of the military.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, had said that the Nigerian Army with 154,000 soldiers and 6,000 officers did not have sufficient personnel to meet its manpower target, especially with the compelling need to win the war against insurgency in addition to other military engagements in internal operations.
However, THISDAY gathered that military authorities have intensified engagement in capacity building programmes, recruitment and training aimed at bringing the three services of the military up-to-date with the requirements of standard and effective military operations and strategies.
A top military source, who spoke anonymously, told THISDAY that in view of the identified shortfall in the manpower requirements of the military establishment, steps have commenced to address the shortage.
The source said: “There is a deliberate strategy to build capacity in the military. There are ongoing programmes and training both foreign and local. They are designed to improve the efficiency of the military at all times.
“We have been recruiting every year since the past four years. These recruitments are equally designed to close the gap. We started promotions from the lower cadre then moved to the senior officers. The upward movement, therefore, means there are spaces being created and those exiting by way of retirement or disengagement are replaced.
“What the military needs in this regard is sufficient funding. We are all aware of the gap. You recruit based on availability of resources because training and capacity building in the military is about resources so you operate within the limits of available resources.”
He said capacity building was important in any military setting in order for it to function effectively, recalling that Nigeria had been regarded as a third world country with the challenges of a third world nation.
Ndume, who is from Borno State, had called for improved capacity and manpower enhancement and development of the military if Nigeria was to win the war against insurgency.
“Let me say here that you can’t fight a war of this magnitude and this vast land with only 150,000 soldiers.
“Right now, the population of the Nigerian Army is 150,000 with 4,000 recently released, a total of 154,000 soldiers. Also, you can’t fight this war with less than 400,000 policemen’’, he said.
A global military ranking institution, Global Fire Power (GFP), citing United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Fact book, ranked Nigeria 43rd in its 2019 global military ranking.
The ranking is based on population of the country, manpower/personnel strength, financial strength and military arsenal.
Nigeria is credited with 181,000 total military personnel, 172,400,000 available manpower while those fit for service stood at 40,710,000 even as citizens reaching military age stood at 3,456,000.
Out of the total military personnel, 124,000 are active while 57,000 are reserved.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called for support and solidarity for the military as it battles terrorists in the North-east.
The group said recent exploits and victories against insurgents were worthy of commendation.
HURIWA, in a statement endorsed by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, said it was gratifying that the Nigerian Armed Forces had effectively worked out strategic interfaces with good spirited citizens in the North-east leading to several reported victories recorded by troops.
The rights group said the continuous liberation of innocent children and women hitherto kept as prisoners of war or hostages by the armed terrorists was the primary reason for the increasing situation of enhanced public confidence and trust reposed in the Nigerian Army by Nigerians residing in the frontline states within the North-east.
“HURIWA commends the army and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, for the consistent show of competent and capable leadership of the largest army in the black world and we encourage him to continue to respect the fundamental human rights of citizens as enshrined in the constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“We believe that if the Nigerian Army continues to provide succour and relief for the citizens facing the unprecedented security nightmares posed by terrorism and terrorists, then the people will continue to partner with the Nigerian Army to ensure that lasting peace is achieved,” he said.