BusinessDay

Time to sack Service Chiefs

There is nothing new any of them will offer that has not been used in the last six years

Insecurity in Nigeria has become a source of concern both to Nigerians and the international community. On a regular basis, several civilians and soldiers are killed by men of the underworld. Churches, residential buildings, schools, farmlands and mosques are not safe as they’re invaded by terrorists. Some Nigerians in the North are fleeing to neighbouring countries to seek refuge. Soldiers who are supposed to be at the war front are tugging their khakis and resigning over lack of motivation from the service chiefs. In addition, there is limited supply of weapons. At the last count, over 5000 lives have been lost in the last five years and the number increases by the day with no solution in sight.

In the wake of these atrocities, Nigerians of all walks of life have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Service Chiefs for non-performance. The calls became more strident in the last one month following heightened security situation in the North East zone and Southern Kaduna. Even the National Assembly is not left out having passed a vote of no confidence on the Service Chiefs.

The Service Chiefs appointed on 13th July, 2015 are; The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Gabriel Olonisakin; the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas; the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar; and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Yusuf Buratai

Surprisingly, president Buhari on July 18, 2020 expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of his Service Chiefs when he told them point-blank that their “best is not good enough”. In other climes, the Service chiefs would have been sacked or voluntarily resigned. Sadly, that has not happened.

Nigerians in 2015 and 2019 voted president Buhari to power in anticipation that as former military head of state and a retired General, he was positioned to deal decisively with all forms of threats to security of the people. But six years down the line, rather than abate, insecurity has escalated thereby exposing great numbers of people to avoidable deaths and loss of property in a manner that history has never witnessed.

While we recognise President Buhari’s prerogative to appoint, sack or replace service chiefs, at the same time, he swore an oath to protect the lives and property of every Nigerian citizen.

Many factors contribute to the dismal performance. Intelligence gathering is poor. The military is ill-equipped and ill-motivated. The Service chiefs lack fresh ideas about combating the insurgency. Citizens refuse to give vital information to the military authorities on the whereabouts of the criminals. Political interference and corruption are other factors. And for reasons best known to them, many foreign countries refused to sell military equipment to Nigeria. The N1 trillion approved in 2019 by the National Assembly was only released in May this year.

Recently, over 200 experienced soldiers were reported to have resigned. The Nigerian Army would later debunk it, but media reports put paid to the position of the military authorities. And recently, there were trending videos of some Nigerian soldiers cussing and criticising the Chief of Army Staff, for not supplying them the needed weapons and ammunition to combat the Boko Haram terrorists. Most of these videos were made in the Sambisa forest.

The soldiers who made the videos would later bite their fingers as they were dealt with. Not spared is a high-ranking military officer General Olusegun Adeniyi who would never forget what befell him a few days after he appeared in a viral video where he asked the Nigerian Army to empower his team with the necessary weapons to fight the insurgents. Same goes for Lance Corporal Martins who indicted and cussed Buratai in a viral video.

We disagree with the position of the military authority which barred soldiers from complaining because the Nigerian Constitution guarantees everybody freedom of speech. To effectively contain the insurgency across the country, the soldiers must be motivated. First is to supply them equipment and improve their welfare package.

The second motivation is to remove the service chiefs as both junior and senior officers have lost confidence in the military leadership. There is nothing new any of them will offer that has not been used in the last six years.

Whoever eventually becomes appointed as a Service Chief must avoid making the mistakes the present occupiers of the office made.

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