NIGERIA’S BATTLE WITH INSECURITY

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Bayo Salami writes that the service chiefs have outlived their usefulness

“The government is not on top of security. Everybody says that security has degenerated each passing day. There are more people being killed (now) than when we were in the civil war. A lot of people are being killed in the north west, in the north east and everywhere. Nowhere is safe. When you talk about people who are being kidnapped in the country, it is simply shocking. There is no security in the country. That is why people are asking that the service chiefs be changed and retired….”

That was elder statesman, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark. He re-echoed what many Nigerians have clamoured for in recent years following the obvious and repeated failures of the sitting Service Chiefs to rein in the wave of insecurity in the country.

As rightly said by Clark, thousands of Nigerians have died from banditry and terrorism. And the death toll includes even soldiers and other paramilitary personnel.

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· It is even worse seeing that the hope of a more secured Nigeria dims by the day as long as the present crop of service chiefs continue in office, even as they have clearly run out of ideas on how to rescue the nation from the steely grip of bare-faced criminals manifesting as bandits, terrorists or kidnappers.

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· The National Assembly as well as many stakeholders across the country on varied occasions had called for the sack of the Service Chiefs. But nay, they remain plugged on to their sockets.

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· What many Nigerians do not realise is that President Muhammadu Buhari, whose duty it is to appoint or fire the service chiefs, is patently scared of sacking them. Some of the service chiefs had boasted to their allies that they would remain in office until whenever they (service chiefs) decide, “no matter what anybody thinks or says.” Call it impudence, and you won’t be wrong.

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· Some had argued that the refusal of the president to sack the ineffective service chiefs is sheer respect for military ethos. But it is not. What kind of military ethos would condone indolence and sheer incompetence?

Some uncharitable persons had sworn that Mr President had been bewitched by the service chiefs so that he will never notice their weakness or count it as any defect.

· The service chiefs were however taken aback when recently, Mr President read what seemed like a riot act to them when he said that their best was not good enough for the country.

· But even after that charge, many more attacks by the bandits in the northwest and the terrorists in the north east have been recorded.

What is worse, all the service chiefs, except the Naval Chief – Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas (from Cross River State), and the Chief of Defence Staff– Gen Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin (from Ekiti State), are from the northern part of the country.

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· Perhaps nobody would mind the region or religion of the service chiefs if and only if they are performing. It is generally believed that the said service chiefs have completely run out of ideas on how best to secure the country, thus necessitating the call for the appointment of new service chiefs who would come in with fresh ideas and operational styles that could improve the state of security in the country.

Nothing seems to hit the president enough to prompt a rejig of the security architecture of the country. Not even when Mr President’s home state of Katsina had been ravaged and ransacked by bandits, to the extent that the paramount ruler of his town (Daura) was kidnapped. The neighbouring Zamafara State is perpetually under lockdown, not by the Coronavirus pandemic, but by a mass of bandits who have literally seized the state by the jugular. And the security chiefs wring their hands in utter helplessness and cluelessness.

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· Sometime last year, the Benin-Ore highway as well as the Abuja-Kaduna highway suddenly became den of kidnappers and killers. Travellers were either kidnapped or killed even after ransoms had been paid. People became scared-stiff to travel by road. The police and the entire security apparatchik in the country appeared (and still appear) helpless and hapless in the face of mounting insecurity. Just everywhere you turn, you are confronted with different shades and degrees of insecurity.

· In some southern communities, Fulani herdsmen have literally seized the farmlands of the natives to the sordid point that the natives have to frequently “settle” the herdsmen before they can gain access to their farmlands. What else is colonization?

· And the service chiefs remain in office, simply because Nigeria is sadly becoming a country of no consequences. Were it not so, the natural logic would be that if you fail to perform in a given task, you get dropped off. It is even doubly so when the task in question has to do with protection of lives and property, the raison d’etres of every government, in the first place

So the question remains: Why is Mr President afraid of his appointees? What did they (service chiefs) do to deaden his anger against them?

· What is however clear to all is that the service chiefs have not remained in office as a result of competence and performance.

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Salami, a security consultant wrote from Ilorin, Kwara State