Disappointment, excitement as Buhari bows to pressure on service chiefs
Perhaps, for many Nigerians the news of the appointments of new service chiefs Tuesday by President Muhammadu Buhari came as shock.
A shock because of the repeated defence of the service chiefs by the Presidency.
It may also not have come as a surprise to a great number of citizens, who believe the service chiefs had overstayed their welcome. Many Nigerians say that the service chiefs bowed out at a time Nigeria had become more threatened by insecurity.
It is believed in some quarters that a lot of lives and property could have been saved had President Buhari sacked the service chiefs when they first showed signs of lethargy and incompetence.
On Monday, January 25, 2021, the information Minister Lai Mohammed while addressing journalists in Abuja, said that the security situation in the country was better now than it was in 2015 when the incumbent administration assumed office.
Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina in a statement said the appointment followed the acceptance of immediate resignation of the former Service Chiefs, and their retirement from service.
Adesina had listed the new service chiefs as: Major-General Leo Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff; Major-General I. Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral A.Z. Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff; and Air-Vice Marshal I.O. Amao, Chief of Air Staff.
At the time the announcement was made, Nigerians had almost lost faith in government’s ability to protect the lives and property of citizens.
Until their eventual exit Tuesday, stakeholders across the country had severally called for their sack but the President had refused and continued to retain them in office.
The calls became intense following the worsening security situation in Nigeria which has escalated within the last few years leading to death of thousands of Nigerians.
Observers were of the view that there was the need for President Buhari to appoint new service chiefs to bring fresh ideas at tackling the security challenges.
The outgoing service chiefs had become weary, while appearing to have lost support from their junior officials.
Appointed just after President Buhari assumed office in 2015, the service chiefs had come under increased pressure to relinquish office after spending their mandatory tenure in office and clocking the retirement age.
They were appointed at the time the northern part of the country was boiling, with bombs flying all over the place. The Islamist sect, Boko Haram was dropping the bombs and making life difficult for Nigerians in the North East geo-political zone.
The dismal performance in office of the former service chiefs has not also helped their course, security situation has worsen to alarming proportion across Nigeria since they assumed office.
From the menace of the Boko Haram in North East, the security crisis has since taken a frightening dimension; ranging from constant clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the middle belt leading to hundreds of deaths with thousands displaced from their ancestral homes, to kidnapping across the country, and from mindless rape of women to banditry.
Today, under the watch of the former service chiefs, wanton killings have continued with no one being brought to book.
Their sacking came in the wake of the spate of insecurity and tension in the southwest states of Ondo and Oyo where reports of alleged kiddnapping, killings and other atrocities by herdsmen hold sway.
The situation has aggravated in the last few days leading to clashes between herdsmen and self-style Yoruba activist, Sunday Igboho in Ibarapa, Oyo North Local Government.
Igboho had accused the Fulani of being behind atrocities in the community leading to an ultimatum for them to vacate the land.
Reacting to the appointment of new service chiefs, Eddy Olafeso, a former Southwest vice chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), said though the president’s action was late in coming, Nigeria was hopeful it would go a long way in improving the security situation in Nigeria.
“What else do we say to an action that should have been done two or three years ago; it tells about clueless and inaction of Buhari. As things are now, Nigerians are praying that it helps to improve security across Nigeria. Go round and see the way people are being killed and kidnappped,” he said.
Analyst Ogundipo Seun said the President caused the situation to worsen by waiting for this long to appoint new service chiefs.
“He caused things to worsen by delaying their sack, they were appointed in 2015. We are in a mess and insecurity is a major issue. I hope the new Service Chiefs will deliver,” he said.
Moriss Ogun, a public affairs commentator, said the President should not have accepted their resignation but sack them.
”If President Buhari thinks the Service Chiefs had overwhelming achievements and thinks giving them a soft landing by accepting their resignation is the best, then it speaks of incompetence on the part of the Presidency. Firing them sends a message that you are in charge,” Ogun said.
Analysts also noted that the President retained the pattern of the appointment of the service chiefs, by leaving out the South East geo-political zone, a development that could continued to elicit ill-feeling.
Recall that President Buhari had also acknowledged that the service chiefs were not living up to expectation. He had declared that their efforts were not good enough.
It is expected that in the immediate term, the new service chiefs would make a positive impact, in line with the doctrine of “new broom sweeps clean.”