By Luminous Jannamike
The Northern Elders Forum, NEF, on Wednesday, said it will require more than the appointment of new Service Chiefs to fix Nigeria’s security challenges.
The Forum argued that the change of the Service Chiefs by President Muhammadu Buhari was not an end in itself, but a means to a better security, adding that it would, therefore, require his active involvement and interest in their conduct, records and performances for the country to win the war against insurgency and other threats.
While urging the new Service Chiefs to prioritise real improvements in professional standards and morale of the troops, the Northern elders stressed the need for them to lead a military which operates with higher levels of respect for rules of engagement.
NEF’s Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, stated this in a press release made available to journalists in Abuja.
It reads, “Northern Elders Forum welcomes the appointment of new Service Chiefs. In our current circumstances where the nation is being swamped by old and new security challenges, a change of leadership in our Armed Forces should be a signal that President Muhammadu Buhari accepts the need to affect major changes in his disposition to security issues and improvements in the nation’s capacities to deal with security and public safety.
“Nigerians will hope that these changes, even if belated, are intended as a response to the persistent demands for changes at leadership levels as part of the requirements to improve professionalism, morale and integrity of command structures of our Armed Forces.
“The Forum warns the nation not be misled into thinking that these changes will dramatically change the nation’s fortunes in its fight against multiple security threats.
“The new Service Chiefs will be a lot more effective if they are inspired by a Commander-In-Chief who adopts an involved and active interest in their conduct, records and performances.”President Buhari must therefore reduce his distance from defence and security matters, and hold Service Chiefs and senior commanders accountable for successes and failures.
“The Forum believes that the priorities of the new Service Chiefs should include real improvements in professional standards and morale of fighting men and women as well fighting corruption within the Armed Forces.
“They will be aware that our frustrations regarding access to vital weapons and criticisms from foreign and domestic monitors of the war are related to the manner our Armed Forces execute the war, and it will be important for them to lead a military which will operate with higher standards of respect for rules of engagement.”
The Forum also countered the argument that new security heads were part of the military that was severely challenged in the battle against insecurity, saying that the Service Chiefs stood a chance of retaining public confidence, if they improved on the records of their predecessors.
“The new Service Chiefs have been part of the military that has been severely challenged in the fight against a decade-old insurgency and many other threats. However, they can retain the confidence of Nigerians by substantially improving on the records of their predecessors.
“The Forum invites the nation’s attention to the need to rise in support of leaders to reduce tensions and other threats to our security.
“Events unfolding in the Southwest, particularly inflammatory comments and threats by groups and individuals represent existential threats to the whole nation.
“All Nigerians must eschew the temptation to tamper with sensitive matters in pursuit of narrow goals.
“The Forum repeats its call on President Buhari to summon a meeting of Governors, leadership of security and intelligence services and other Nigerians with capacities to advise and assist in de-escalating tensions in the Southwest.”