By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South;
Dayo Johnson, South West Regional Editor; Sam Oyadongha;
Festus Ahon; Jimitota Onoyume;
Egufe Yafugborhi; Dennis Agbo;
Rotimi Ojomoyela; Davies Iheamnachor; Chioma Onuegbu;
Perez Brisibe; Shina Abubakar and Ozioruwa Aliu
After much agitation across the country for a replacement of the Service Chiefs following worsening security situation, President Muhammadu Buhari, last Tuesday, finally appointed a new set of Security heads.
Nigerians were almost united in condemning the performance of the sacked service chiefs. So much is therefore expected from the new helmsmen. They are expected to excel where their predecessors failed.
Nigerians want our roads to be free from kidnappers’ control. Nigerians pray for an end to the insurgency. In order to achieve all these, the citizens expect the new service chiefs to bring new ideas. They desire an entirely new approach to tackling terror and banditry. They spoke of their high expectations and what they believe the new service chiefs should do differently.
Tackle Boko Haram, herdsmen from all fronts —Major General Abbe retd
Former Minister of Defence, Major General Godwin Abbe (retd) said: “For the new men, I think it is important they realise that fighting insurgency is like a team of doctors trying to cure a cancer patient. It is very unprofessional to predict that a cancer patient will be cured or that he will recover fully. That is what insurgency is, all you do is to approach the challenge from various dimensions that could bring the insurgency to submission. In the case of Nigeria, the new service chiefs should try and work together as a team because in unison they will certainly do much better and they should be more ruthless in their approach to acts of disloyalty.
They should encourage the government to address the socio-political side of an insurgency because arms alone will not do the trick. I hope that all the social challenges, the insecurity along the roads will also be addressed by the new team with vigour and the question of herdsmen stopping Nigerians from driving through their God-given country should be ruthlessly dealt with.
Insurgency is not like normal wars, it does not finish overnight, counterinsurgency is not a tea party, there is nothing like putting insurgency to an end, it is a war that lingers no matter how efficient we are. It is a bitter battle, so nations pray not to have insurgency but now that we have it, every Nigerian should get involved, all these criminal Fulani herdsmen should be flushed out”.
Don’t politicize security —Gov Wike
Governor Nyesom Wike challenged the new service chiefs to see the opportunity as a call “to re-engineer the nation’s security architecture which has suffered a tremendous setback in the last five years. The new service chiefs should not politicize security by aligning with politicians. What the country needs now is competence and professionalism that will reduce insecurity to the barest minimum.
This is an opportunity to serve the nation and I believe that the service chiefs will be focused and dedicated,” he said.
Deploy professionalism to tackle insecurity —Sullivan Chime
Former Governor of Enugu State, Mr Sullivan Chime said the new security chiefs should identify the areas that the military had shortages, either in personnel, equipment or any other shortcoming and make amends to improve on the nation’s insecurity challenges. I expect the new Service Chiefs to do their best using what they have.
Let them do their best in whatever situation they find themselves, that’s my advice to them. Remember they are working under a Commander-in-Chief and they are not totally in control and an armed force is one aspect of governance where you need equipment. I don’t know how armed they are, I don’t know how trained the soldiers are, both the Air Force and Navy and so I expect them to do their best.
They are career military officers that rose through the ranks; I expect to see professionalism in the discharge of their duties. I expect them to manage the Armed forces to the best of their abilities.”
They should bring in dynamic change —Amb. Yemi Faroumbi
The former Nigerian Ambassador to the Philippines, Dr Yemi Faroumbi said, “Nigerians have advocated, for long, for the removal of the last set of Service Chiefs because Nigerians were not satisfied with what they were doing.
The primary responsibility of any government is to provide security for the lives and property of the people. Nigerians said the last set was not doing enough to curb insecurity. It is true they claim to have technically defeated Boko Haram but they did not see an end to the activities of Boko Haram. They did not see enough action being taken against the increasing state of kidnapping, they did not see a containment of the activities of herdsmen. So Nigerians thought these people are tired and they should go.
So what do we expect from the new sets? With the new ones in place, Nigerians expect the better, technical, tactical and comprehensive bold solution to Nigeria security problem, they expect that these new security chiefs should introduce new policies, a new approach, new methods that will guarantee the safety of lives and property of Nigerians wherever they are. They expected that they will be able to sleep with their eyes close, they expected they will be able to travel conveniently without being harassed by kidnappers or bandits or other criminals.
So we expect them to bring a new rigour, a new vision, a new approach to the massive security problem that Nigeria has been facing in the last six years. We all agreed that change brings dynamism, the new security chiefs, even if they will spend a year or two should bring in a dynamic change in the approach to security in the country”.
Take the fight to bandits, Boko Haram insurgents —Sen Manager
Senator James Manager representing Delta South senatorial district asserted: “Nigerians long expected this to have happened, but now that it has happened even though it is very late, it is better late than never. The service chiefs are not strange persons to the state of security and what is happening in the country today and we expect nothing less from them. Nigerians expect that at the end of the day, they will take the fight to the bandits and Boko Haram insurgents and that is the least that is expected from them and nothing less”.
Deep patriotism – Kokori
In his own view, ex-Secretary General, National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Chief Frank Kokori said, “I want them to be deeply patriotic, serve the country as soldiers and keep the position Nigeria holds in the African continent. They should also be professional and not behave like elitist people as being experienced among the average Nigerian soldier of today. You will agree with me that it has never been heard of in the history of Nigeria until now that a soldier will build an abnormal mansion which runs into millions. Nigerians expect so much from them and they should not let us down having come into office with the blessings of all Nigerians.
What matters is what they bring to the table —Ledum Mitee
Former President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) and past Chairman of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Mr Ledum Mitee, said, “I am not excited about the reported changes of security personnel. The buck stops with the commander-in-chief or as our people say, the fish rots from the head. What would make a difference is what new directions or commands the commander-in-chief give to the service chiefs.”
Owe allegiance only to country —Briggs
Niger-Delta activist, Annkio Briggs said: “I personally see this (change of services chiefs) as coming late, a lot of damage has been done, but the question is; will the new service chiefs perform as expected, securing life and property? We will have to see what they will achieve. I hope the new service chiefs will understand that they owe allegiance to the Nigeria nation meaning all the ethnic nationalities and not a person or persons from a particular region and religion,” she said.
They should insulate themselves from politics —Ambakederimo
Convener, South-South Reawakening Group, Joseph Ambakederimo, said: “The new service chiefs should concentrate on the job of securing the territorial integrity of the country, and this time around they should insulate themselves from politics. They should also know that no one in this country is above the law, fish out the sponsors of the crimes and funders of insecurity. They should collaborate and synergize with other paramilitary agencies for the proper and effective fight to stem the tide of insecurity.”
Buy modern weapons for soldiers- Mudiaga —Odje
Human Rights Activist and constitutional lawyer, Dr Akpor Mudiaga-Odje, asserted: “The new service chiefs should position the security architecture of Nigeria to be at par with our sister countries like Ghana and South Africa.
They must now go to the war-front to cheer up as well as join in engaging the enemies.
They should critically examine the condition and welfare of our fighting soldiers with a view of ensuring they are well taken care of at the war-front and ensure regular payments of their salaries.
They should also ensure we purchase very recent and contemporary weapons of war for this war; hold regular meetings with communities in the volatile region. Open up an avalanche of suggestion boxes to assist in reforming the system. Treat every report of abandonment made by the soldiers almost immediately and get a workable budget for these security apparatuses,” he said.
No sacred cow —Essien, UNIIUYO
Dr Kufre Abasi Essien of the University of Uyo, UNIUYO, said: “the service chiefs will not be able to do so much if the system does not give them the support. As individuals, they may have the burden of transforming the country, but does Nigeria as a system want the transformation? So, I have two things they can do.
First, let there be no sacred cow. The Fulani herdsmen attack is spreading, and no one is saying anything. If they are going to succeed in curbing insecurity in the country, there are a lot of questions that they must ask like why are soldiers being ambushed? As a Service Chief in charge of a certain section, you must be able to raise questions, answer those questions, without fear or favour. The other area I want them to get into is the area of education because security is not just a one item project.
If the government is not keeping to the agreement, that is an item of insecurity. I am worried that we are expecting so much from the new service chiefs, but it is not enough to appoint them, have you given them the free hand to run their departments? Today the country has deteriorated to the level of tribal and religious sentiments, how many of them are Christians, Muslims, how many are from the North, and South.
All these are factors that we cannot run away from. We have run away from this truth for so long and it is not helping the system. So let us confront it, and fix it once and for all”, the don said.
Carrot and stick strategyn—Akpan, COMPPART
Similarly, Saviour Akpan, Executive Director, COMPPART Foundation for Justice and Peace Building, said, “What they can do differently to secure Nigeria, first is to toe the path of dialogue in certain circumstances. For example, in the crisis in the South East, South West currently, and even part of the North you need to apply the carrot and stick strategy. We are not fighting a war, we are all Nigerians. You don’t need to use a helicopter to start throwing a grenade in a community. Again, they need to find out why we are having violent reactions. The service chiefs should know that they are accountable to the people, therefore they should give a periodic update on their performance accountability,” he added.
Create viable synergy with other paramilitary services —Ayo Fadaka
A Political analyst and former Publicity Secretary of the PDP in Ondo state- Hon Ayo Fadaka contended that “Nigeria is currently plagued by insecurity and the desire of an average Nigerian is to feel secured everywhere in this country, be able to sleep with two eyes closed, be able to take a trip and not be afraid that they will be plucked off the roads by Fulani miscreants imported into this nation by unscrupulous people to torment us. I will expect the new service chiefs to create a viable synergy with other paramilitary services, Police inclusive, and develop a framework that will rid our nation of kidnappers, marauders and bandits who continue to wreak untold havoc on the nation.
That is my expectation and that of average Nigerians. However, what is the expectation of the man who appointed them? I ask this question because conspiracy theories abound about complicity in high places in respect to our security challenges. It is the expectation of Nigerians that the Book Haram insurgency be defeated decisively once and for all. This expectation was promised the nation during the campaigns for 2015 elections, almost seven years into Buhari’s Presidency, it remains a pipe dream. The best we got in this regard was a declared technical victory which in my estimation amounts to nothing but a mere high sounding phrase designed to cajole the nation.
De-politicize the military —Akintoye
A Political analyst, Zadok Akintoye argued that: “It is expected that the new service chiefs will immediately reposition the Nigeria military for greater effectiveness to restore its lost glory as one of the most effective militaries in Africa. I am particularly sceptical of their capacity to solve the insurgency in the North East that has become a hydra-headed battle with the military being accused of complicity within its ranks. I will also want to see a military that focuses on its primary duty of maintaining Nigeria’s territorial integrity. One area the new service chiefs need to also work on is the de-politicization of the military. Nigerians want a truly professional military.
I expect no magic from them —Hon Igbinedion
A legal practitioner and former member of the Edo State House of Assembly, Hon. Bamidele Igbinedion while responding to the expectations of Nigerians from the service chiefs, said: “Nigerians should not expect something different from the retired service chiefs because the new service chiefs will have to take orders from President Muhammadu Buhari. It is very unfortunate that this country has found itself in this situation. For me, I cannot depend on them because there is nothing each one of them will do without instructions from the President.”
No respite —Gbemre, NPDC
Coordinator, Niger Delta Peace Coalition, NPDC, Zik Gbemre, expects little or no positive change from the new military heads. “Let us also be reminded that the new Chief of Army Staff, Attahiru, was the same officer reportedly displaced for incompetence in 2017 from leading the Boko Haram war by the outgone Chief of Army Staff. I fault the obviously skewed and partial appointments which is due to the fact that the Office of the Chief of Army Staff, has been made the exclusive preserve of the Northerners by the President Buhari-led administration.
I do not see the reason for the excitement of the new appointments. Buhari still cleverly favoured his Northern interest. The Chief of Army Staff is most relevant, powerful, that of Chief of Defence Staff is redundantly ceremonial. The Chief of Army Staff, his Navy and Air counterparts report directly to the President and hardly answerable to the Chief of Defence Staff, a mere Administrative Head of the military, with no firm control and influence over the operations/activities of the military. We all know the nucleus of the military in the Army.
Now, he has appointed an officer earlier displaced for incompetence as the new Chief of Army Staff, to deliver what? Continue his incompetence?
Expect nothing spectacular —Afenifere
The spokesperson of Afenifere, Pan Yoruba Socio-Political group, Yinka Odumakin said “There is nothing spectacular we expect because it is the same regime with no change of orientation that has engaged them. We have no serious expectation of departure from the clannishness and parochialism that has characterized the security architecture of Nigeria
They must build the confidence of Nigerians — Chief Ebiseni
A former member of the 2014 National Confab and former commissioner in Ondo state — Chief Olusola Ebiseni, said, “the Nigerian State today is, to say the least, a security risk. The territorial integrity of the country is largely threatened and compromised in every way. If Nigerians have not lost hope in the security agencies, it is because they have no alternative on account of the constitution. Notwithstanding, because self-security is the fundamental concern of every being, Nigerians, even State Governments, have devised several measures for security.
When even military formations are no longer reliable sanctuaries, what do you expect from ordinary folks? The basic task of the new service chiefs and expectation of Nigerians is confidence building. Starting from the territorial attacks in the North East, both the Chiefs of Defence Staff and of the Army are tested hands who will prove their mettle in that sector. The fact that criminals and bandits operate with impunity and are seemingly above the law, no arrests, no prosecutions, not even caution from authorities leave much to be desired. The service Chiefs themselves need the cooperation, support and prayers of all Nigerians in the interest of our collective security.
In its reaction, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Ekiti State charged the new Service Chiefs to be alive to their responsibilities and work hard towards bringing a lasting solution to the problem of insecurity in the country. In a statement in Ado Ekiti, CAN Chairman, Reverend Father Peter Olowolafe said the change in the security architecture was long overdue as the issue of insecurity was becoming more alarming. He explained that it was only in a secured environment that development could happen noting that the cases of kidnapping, banditry and herdsmen attacks had hampered the speed of the nation’s growth. The CAN Chairman noted that “security goes beyond tribe, religion or political classes, hence the need for governments at all levels to show the political will in protecting lives and property of all citizens”.
The National President of Middle Belt Forum, MBF, Dr Pogu Bitrus said; “I want to see the new Service Chiefs change the performance of the armed forces. We have seen our troops sabotaged in the past. We saw that they have been suffering ambush and all that. We have seen that the fight against insurgency has not been going the way it should. We have seen insurgency on the increase. So, what we want is that insurgency has to be totally defeated so that we can have a peaceful Nigeria. It started from the North East and spread to the Middle Belt area, it has gone to the North West now it has crept to the South West, South East and part of South-South.
The military has to push them back. They have to fish out elements who are not even Nigerians who are partaking in this. They have to collaborate with other security agencies; the DSS, the NIA, the DMI and all other outfits to receive adequate intelligence, including the Immigration Service to know how these people come in. They must identify those who are bringing these foreigners into our country to kill and destroy. We also want the Commander-in-Chief to give them a free hand to operate so that if there is any weakness or lapses in their operations they should be held responsible.
Chief Edward Ujege, former Chairman Benue Tribal leaders
Normally when you affect changes they bring in new ideas. My expectation is that the army should be well equipped. They must not be sent to the field without adequate weapons and materials. This was an issue the former chiefs complained about. It should not just be the appointments but it should be backed up with adequate equipment to help them achieve the purpose for which they were appointed. We expect that the service chiefs would be impartial.
Chief Iorbee Ihagh, Chairman of Benue Tribal Leaders
We called and pushed for the change of the security chiefs and now that President Buhari has done it, though he was compelled by Nigerians to do it, we expect that the new Chiefs will bring in changes that we want in the area of general security and the fight against insurgency and banditry. If they fail to do that, it means there is an agenda on the part of the President. He obviously appointed them to take care of those issues and if they don’t do that, we will be disappointed and we will continue to remain divided as a country.