Show Interest in Service Chiefs’ Conduct, Performance, Northern Elders Urge Buhari

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By John Shiklam

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has said that the new Service Chiefs will be more effective if President Muhammadu Buhari shows interests in their conduct and performance.

In a statement on Wednesday in Kaduna, the forum’s Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, urged Buhari not to distance himself from defence and security matters by holding Service Chiefs and senior commanders accountable for successes and failures.

Baba-Ahmed said: “The priorities of the Service Chiefs should include real improvements in professional standards and morale of fighting men and women as well as fighting corruption within the armed forces.

“In our current circumstances where the nation is being swamped by old and new security challenges, a change of leadership in our Armed Forces should be a signal that President Muhammadu Buhari accepts the need to affect major changes in his disposition to security issues and improvements in the nation’s capacities to deal with security and public safety.

“Nigerians will hope that these changes, even if belated, are intended as a response to the persistent demands for changes at leadership levels as part of the requirements to improve professionalism, morale and integrity of command structures of our Armed Forces.”

He warned that Nigerians should not be misled into thinking that the appointment of the service chiefs will dramatically change the nation’s fortunes in its fight against multiple security threats.

According to him, “The new Service Chiefs will be a lot more effective if they are inspired by a Commander-in-Chief who adopts an involved and active interests in their conduct, records and performances.

“President Buhari must therefore reduce his distance from defence and security matters, and hold Service Chiefs and senior commanders accountable for successes and failures.”

The group noted that the new Service Chiefs have been part of the military that has been severely challenged in the fight against a decade-old insurgency and many other threats, stressing that: “The only way they can retain the confidence of Nigerians is to substantially improve on the records of their predecessors.”

Baba-Ahmed said the forum believes that priorities of the new service chiefs should include real improvements in professional standards and morale of fighting men and women as well as fighting corruption within the armed forces.

“They will be aware that our frustrations regarding access to vital weapons and criticisms from foreign and domestic monitors of the war are related to the manner our Armed Forces execute the war, and it will be important for them to lead a military which will operate with higher standards of respect for rules of engagement,” he said.

The statement further noted
recent happenings in the South-west, particularly, the inflammatory comments and threats by groups and individuals arising from the quit notice issued to herdsmen in Ondo and Oyo States, saying it is existential threats to the whole nation.

The forum reiterated its call on President Buhari to summon a meeting of governors, leadership of security and intelligent services and other Nigerians with capacities to advise and assist in de-escalating tensions in the South-west.