By Suleiman Umaru
Barely 24 hours after the appointment of Leo Irabor, a ajor General as a replacement for Gabriel Olonisakin,a retired army General and former Chief of Defense Staff, CDS and the other service Chiefs, President Muhammadu Buhari , who is incidentally is the Commander –In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, had met with them at the Presidential Villa.
The Katsina state born Nigerian President had used the Opportunity of the meeting with the new service Chiefs to enjoin them ‘’to be patriotic and serve the country well’’. The Nigerian President who had repeatedly been told by Nigerians to declare a state of emergency because of the high level of insecurity in the country had informed the service the service Chiefs that they had been appointed as replacement for the old service Chiefs at a time’’ the country is in a state of emergency’’.
The Nigerian President, who was a retired army General and who had seen it all both in war time and peace time, had told the service Chiefs, , ‘’there is nothing I can tell you about the service because you are in it and I was also in it’’. He was said to have assured the service Chiefs who are enjoying country-wide support that whatever he will do, particular, procurement of equipment and improvement of their Logistics as their C-In-C, to make them succeed , he will not hesitate to do it hat people would appreciate their efforts.
Perhaps to make them understand the enormous security Challenge ahead of them, particular , the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, popular, BokoHaram and the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, Insurgency in the north east states, of Adamawa, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar , home state, Borno and Yobe as well as the security challenge in the north west states of Kaduna, Zamfara and Katsina, occasioned by the Bandits, he has drawn their attention to the stage the country was between 2015 and now.
He was said to have informed them of the promise that he has made ‘’to secure the country, revive the economy and fight Corruption’’, and the need for them cue in. He had admitted that ‘’none has been easy to achieve’’. Appealing to the service Chiefs to be more concerned about the morale of their officers and fighting troops to sustain the progress that had been made over the last five years, he disclosed that it is the only way the Insurgency war in the north east and Banditry in the north west, would be sustained. He advised the service Chiefs to ensure that they make the military personnel ‘’to fell physically and professionally secure’’.
Bashir Magashi, a retired army Major General and minister of Defense, who was said to have led the new service Chiefs to the meeting with Buhari, is optimistic that going by the burning desire in the mind set of the service Chiefs to succeed , they will. Many believe that retired Gen. Olonisakin and the other service Chiefs had failed in their assignment to fully secure the country during their time despite the Presidential backing because they were Competing among themselves to excel instead of working as a team to deal with the common enemies: the Insurgents, Bandits and the Kidnappers in different parts of the country.
This is one area which Major-Gen. Irabor , the CDS, may have to work on to ensure that Ibrahim Attahiru, a Major Gen. And the Chief of Army Staff do not see himself as superior to the other service Chiefs in the ongoing Insurgency war in the north east but ready to work in partnership with all of them to achieve result.
But the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, fears that the new service Chiefs may not do much to change the nation’s fortunes in the fight against insecurity because of the situation on ground. It is not surprising why Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, NEF’s , Director , Advocacy and Publicity, has urged the Nigerian President to hold the service Chiefs accountable for their successes and failures.
Given the Nigerian President past relationship with the former service Chiefs , which many believe was not too encouraging as it affected the morale of the military personnel, the NEF’s Director, Advocacy and Publicity, has given a word of advice to him to reduce his distance from defence and security matters.
Baba –Ahmed, the NEF’s Director, Advocacy and Publicity, who could not hide his feelings believes that the new service may not achieve that much to change what they had met on ground because they were part of the old military team that has been severely Challenged in the fight against a decade-old Insurgency and many other security threats in the country. He insists that the only way, Major-Gen. Irabor and the other service Chiefs could win the Confidence of Nigerians is ‘’to improve on the records of the former service Chiefs.
Given the expectations of Nigerians from the new service Chiefs, he has urged them to include ‘’real in professional standards and morale of fighting troops as well as fighting Corruption within the armed forces. Aware that the major complaints of the soldiers over the years had been access to vital weapons and criticisms from foreign and domestic monitors that the manner of the military high Command in executing the war, was not encouraging , NEF, had said that this should encourage the service Chiefs to head a military that will ‘’operate with higher standards of respect of rules of engagement’’.
In spite of the fact that the Nigerian President had continued to receive Congratulatory messages from the governors for accepting the resignation of the old service Chiefs and appointing new ones, Femi Falana, a senior Advocate of Nigeria, had said the appointment of the service Chiefs without the approval of the National Assembly as a nomination as they have not been appointed. He noted that when former President Goodluck Jonathan made a similar appointment in 2013, Festus Keyamo, a SAN, and now minister of state, Niger Delta ministry, had dragged him to Court in 2013, describing the appointment as illegal and unconstitutional’’. He had his way.
The legal luminary , who is the National Coordinator of the Alliance on Surviving COVID 19 and Beyond, ASCAP, had said that the appointment of the new service Chiefs would ‘’ remain inchoate as the Nigerian President has not forwarded the names of the proposed service Chiefs to the National Assembly for approval in strict Compliance with the relevant provisions of the 199 Constitution as amended and the armed forces Act.
This may have informed why he has called on Buhari ‘’to forward the names of the proposed service Chiefs as he has put it , to the National Assembly for Confirmation, stressing that failure to do so means that appointments are liable to be set aside on the basis of a valid and subsisting judgment of a Federal High Court.