Impact Of Welfare Package In The Performance Of Nigerian Soldiers
Improper and low service conditions and welfare services have weakened the Nigerian soldiers.
Barracks, educational and health facilities and other welfare services are often appalling.
In 2011, then army chief Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika observed: “The
Nigerian army has about 113 barracks, with some located in remote places, without
public water supply and electricity. A sizeable number have not been renovated since they were built four decades ago”. Soldiers on missions sometimes do not receive operational allowances as and when due. Troops deployed in counter-insurgency in 2013-2014 recount that feeding arrangements were poor (sometimes non-existent),sleeping conditions were rough, and many were deployed for so long that they succumbed to battlefront fatigue – partly because no units were ready to replace them. Discontent over welfare conditions aggravates relations between senior officers and junior ranks. There was unease in January 2008, when a group calling itself “Patriotic Majors” threatened to “act” by 15 February if certain welfare needs and other demands were not met. While seeking outstanding emoluments and allowances, the group also demanded “immediate removal and subsequent trial” of the chiefs of defence and army staffs, the finance director, principal staff officers at army headquarters and the generals commanding all divisions. Though it never carried out the threat, the incident underscored how welfare-related grievances had undermined professionalism. They remain a source of discontent, frustration and low morale.Poor pay and care probably also contribute to the involvement of military personnel in criminal activities.
For many serving personnel, the thought of post-service life is a nightmare. There have been constant allegations that corrupt Pensions Board officials embezzle funds meant for pensions and gratuities or delay payments to fraudulently earn interest on money in commercial banks. Many ex-servicemen became destitute while awaiting pensions and gratuities. The fear of sliding into poverty on retirement may be a factor pushing some officers to “help themselves” while in service.