Experts in the security sector have said the newly appointed service chiefs must hit the ground running and salvage the country’s deteriorating security landscape.
They commended President Bola Tinubu for appointing those who have the experience and expertise to tackle the multiple security challenges facing the country, saying the appointments show balance in terms of geographic representation.
They stressed the need for them to work in synergy, particularly in intelligence gathering and in developing ingenious strategies to approach the security challenges.
Tinubu had on Monday removed all the service chiefs and named their replacements.
Major General Christopher Musa took over from General Lucky Irabor as Chief of Defence Staff; Emmanuel Undiandeye, a major general, was appointed Chief of Defence Intelligence, and Nuhu Rubadu took over from Babagana Monguno as National Security Adviser.
Gen TA Lagbaja was appointed as the Chief of Army Staff to succeed Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya; Air Vice Marshal Hassan Bala Abubakar took over from Air Marshal Oladayo Amao as Chief of Air Staff, while Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla replaced Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo as Chief of Naval staff.
Speaking to BusinessDay, Kabiru Adamu, CEO of Beacon Consulting, a security risk management and intelligence consulting company, said the new chiefs can only deliver the desired change, if they are able to cooperate, and carry out a critical appraisal of the security situation to gain deeper understanding of the issues.
For him, a measure of success would be the ability of these security officers to drastically reduce the number of citizens who are killed regularly by insurgents, bandits and other criminals.
He decried that every year, at least 10,000 Nigerians are killed, while 78,000 have been killed in the last 10 years, citing a report by his organisation.
He said: “When you’re talking of a system, an architecture, it is how well the individuals are able to understand the framework in which the architecture lies, and how well they are able to cooperate to achieve the single desire to provide security and welfare of the citizens. If they do this, we will see some changes, but if they continue from where we are coming from, where the opposite of what I just mentioned was the case, then sadly we won’t see any changes.
“In the last 10 years, 78,000 Nigerians have been killed, and that is the most conservative estimate. There is no parameter that you will score the death of 78,000 Nigerians as successful. So the task ahead of them is to reduce that 10,000 to lower than 1,000; then, we can clap for them and say they have done well.”
The security analyst expressed confidence in their capability. “I have reviewed them, their antecedents; they are all professionals in terms of what they have done in the past. So, if that is a measurement of their capacity and capability, then we are very optimistic that they are bringing with them that type of experience, that type of expertise; and hopefully, they will contribute their own quota to the aspiration of every Nigerian to solve the security challenges facing the country,” he said.
He said intelligence gathering is a major issue the new chiefs must prioritise, adding that Nigeria has a very low capacity for gathering intelligence, and is still using moribund methods of intelligence gathering.
“We are hoping that the new service chiefs will ensure improved collection, fusion and dissemination of intelligence and improved feedback,” he said.
Adamu also highlighted the need for improved accountability.
He said although in eight years, former President Muhammadu Buhari increased the amount budgeted for security from N900 billion to about N2.3 trillion, it did not result in reductions of fatalities.
“So if we introduce accountability, we will be able to measure what we are giving them with their performance, and where there are failures, we penalise it as swiftly as possible. That way, we will keep them focused,” Adamu said.
Freedom Onuoha, a security expert and professor of political science at the University of Nigeria, while commending Tinubu for taking a proactive response to ensure timely appointment of the service chiefs, said the new chiefs must work collaboratively and in synergy to begin to roll back the wave of insecurity in Nigeria.
He said: “If there is any time they need to work in synergy, it is now, against the backdrop of the deteriorating security situation in the country.
“A whole lot is expected of them now; a lot of Nigerians expect that they will roll up their sleeves and hit the ground running in addressing the security issues that have defined the landscape of Nigeria’s governance in the last decade. And it appears that successive military chiefs have not been able to deal with these problems.”
Onuoha also applauded the ethnic and religious representation of the service chiefs. According to him, it would facilitate collaboration across all groups.
“For the first time in the last eight years, we are seeing an appointment that reflects the geographical territory, the ethnicity and religious groups. If there are groups that have not been open to collaborating with the security chiefs against the backdrop of the previous lopsided appointment of service chiefs, that door will be closed now,” he said.
Onuoha also wants the security chiefs to work to rebuild public trust and confidence, which is at the lowest ebb, and improve citizens’ engagement.
Chidi Omeje, a security analyst and coordinator at Citizens’ Initiative for Security Awareness (CISA), wants the new chiefs to develop a robust synergy between and among themselves and with other military and security intelligence agencies.
She said: “I expect them to fashion a strong synergy and collaboration because we can’t afford to have security services working at cross opposites.
“I expect them to be much more decisive in tackling the various security challenges across the country. I expect them to devise ingenious ways of taming the security challenges, they should give us results. The important thing is the result. Nigerians want to see results. People should be able to live their lives without morbid fear of terrorists and bandits.”
Omeje expressed confidence in the ability of the new chiefs to deliver.
He said, “I have confidence in the new appointments. The new chiefs are people who have been in the thick of things. The current Chief of Defence Staff was the Theatre commander of Operations Hadin kai in Maiduguri and he distinguished himself. I believe that having been in the field, he knows what to do. Lagbaja was the one that tamed the banditry in Kaduna State. He was actually going to the field fighting along with the troops. Ogalla is a top quality Naval officer that has distinguished himself. I have serious confidence that they will produce results.”
Omeje also wants the new chiefs to improve the welfare of troops so that they can be motivated to produce better results.
Tasks ahead of new service chiefs
Nigeria has been grappling with security challenges for over a decade, with the emergence of the Boko Haram terror group .
Experts have described the security situation as hydra-headed and deteriorating, as new security threats have emerged.
All regions in the country are grappling with one security challenge or the other, from Boko Haram terrorism which started over a decade ago in the North-East to banditry and kidnapping in the North-West and North-Central, oil militancy and attack on maritime assets in the South-South and secessionist agitation in the South-East.
The conflict between cattle herders and farmers in many parts of the country and the Islamic State West Africa Province in the North-East have exacerbated the security situation.
Onuoha said the past service chiefs were not successful in tackling these challenges, despite several military operations. “Hence, the new chiefs are faced with a major task of curbing this threat and providing Nigerians the peace and security they deserve.”