The utter disrepair of the Nigerian army may compromise plans to oust Islamists in northern Mali, the UK Guardian newspaper is reporting.
A senior source in Mali told the Guardian that the Nigerian army is in such “a shocking state” that it can only be relied upon for “manning checkpoints and loading trucks.”
“The Nigerian forces lack training and kit, so they simply don’t have the capability to carry out even basic military manoeuvres. They have poor discipline and support. They are more likely to play a behind-the-scenes role in logistics and providing security,” the source said.
The Nigerian military is being relied upon by ECOWAS to lead the onslaught to oust Islamist fighters affiliated to Al-Qaeda who are in control of northern Mali.
But an assessment by military experts from the US and EU shows that Nigerian forces lack the basic know-how and discipline to lead the operation.
Now the experts are relying on Malian troops fresh from being trained by the EU to take the leading role in the operation.
A spokesperson of the Nigerian military admitted that it is under-resourced but claimed that the military had been successful in previous international assignments.
“The situation is that Nigeria has the trained personnel, what we require however is additional funding and logistic support. Nigeria has a lot of past experience in successful military and diplomatic interventions on the continent,” the spokesperson, whose name was not mentioned, was quoted as saying.
The Nigerian military used to be the pride of the continent. It played a leading role in restoring peace in war-torn Liberia and Sierra Leone in the 1990s but years of meddling into politics and corruption has left in a sorry state.
It currently has it hands full battling an Islamic insurgency in the north of the country where it has been chastised for its lack of intelligence capability and the use of brute force leading to human rights abuses.