By Simon Reef Musa
RECENTLY, the upper chamber of the National Assembly (NASS) veered off its familiar terrain of being an extension of the executive arm of the government by doing something unusual. They not only lamented the worsening security situation in the country, the Senators went a step further by calling on the nation’s Service Chiefs to step aside to allow fresh minds to introduce new and effective strategies in the fight against insurgencies ripping across the country. The Senate’s advice came on the heels of a motion by Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume where he gave a chilling account of how Boko Haram terrorists have continued to unleash devastating attacks, killing civilians and military personnel with reckless abandon.
Lamenting on how the country was losing soldiers to insurgents, Senator Ndume said, “Just recently, 24 soldiers were ambushed and killed along Maiduguri-Damboa road in Borno State, 19 were wounded and nine were declared missing in action. In Katsina, soldiers were also ambushed and killed, while several others were wounded and the number of casualties is not known. “The Senate appreciates the sacrifice of our armed forces in the fight against the insurgency and banditry and protection of territorial integrity and several other security assignments given to them, but is concerned that if the trend continues, it would have serious implications on the fight against insurgency, banditry.
It has been alleged that over 200 soldiers voluntarily resigned their engagement or appointment with the Nigerian Army.” In what seems like synchronised attacks on communities living in Southern Kaduna, no fewer than 27 persons were murdered in Kachia, Kaura and Kajuru Local Government Areas (LGAs), including the abduction of 10 persons. To many who have watched closely the profile of NASS, especially as it regards its relationship with the Presidency, the decision by the federal lawmakers to demand the sack of the Service Chiefs is a clear departure from the past where they had always turned deaf ears to complaints and outcries calling for the sack of the nation’s military high command.
In a quick response to the Senate’s call on the Service Chiefs to retire, the Presidency said the appointment or sack of security chiefs is the prerogative of the President, adding, “The Presidency notes the resolution, and reiterates that appointment or sack of Service Chiefs is a presidential prerogative, and President Muhammadu Buhari, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, will do what is in the best interest of the country at all times.”
There is no denying the fact that something is amiss in the nation’s fight against those who are determined to throw the country into chaos. Despite billions of Naira appropriated to end the war against insurgency, the road to resolving this bloodshed resides more on an imaginary realm than reality. For those who have paid closer attention to the war against terror, the present military has become a metaphor for incapacity to rein in the troubles of our country. Despite being in the saddle of top military command for over four years, the dream of getting rid of terrorists is increasingly becoming unrealisable. With the terrorists unleashing devastating blows on the military, it seems that the present crop of the nation’s military may have run short of ideas and are incapable of surviving the firepower of the insurgents.
Much as the military prides in secrecy for security reasons, no nation can survive in a system that places a premium on enthronement of personal power above that of the country. Nigerians are where they are today because we place much emphasis on financial prosperity and enmeshed in efforts aimed at enriching the individual. When such a system is allowed to hold sway, our citizens become engrossed in a walk of darkness promoted by the bestial thirst of personal survival that militates against the development of society.
Considering the system we have consecrated, the ongoing insecurity ravaging our nation will continue with us for a long time to come. Having turned money into a god for surviving daily challenges of existence, some top guns of the military see their present positions as an unavoidable opportunity to be exploited to the fullest. It is not true that the Nigerian military is incapable of defeating Boko Haram and that other criminal elements that are threatening the foundation of Nigeria are above the long arms of the law. The exploits and courage of Nigeria’s military ring a bell in faraway countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone. If our armies can lay down their lives to save citizens of other countries, why can’t they do the same for their own brothers and sisters?
The truth is that only very few officers of the military are turning the entire war on insurgency as a platform for lining their pockets. Unlike in other climes where soldiers are treated for their sacrifice for the nation, some top military officers simply see their soldiers as mere numbers to be deployed in fighting war. That is why fighting troops are neglected and sometimes exposed to dangers by greedy commanders. This explains why the military’s incapacity to successfully prosecute the war against terror has become an albatross of the current military campaigns against insurgents and criminal elements.
It is strange that amidst the cacophony of discordant voices on the performance profile of the military, President Buhari is yet to find it expedient to sack these service chiefs and appoint fresh minds that may move the war on terror to the next level. One weakness of Buhari, according to those who are close to our President, is that when he trusts, it is difficult to renounce such trust. The question is: How long will citizens wait for their President to inject fresh blood to salvage a nation that is in tatters?
It is even obvious to the blind that the country’s strategies against insurgents are not working and what is needed now is a change of guards at the command post of the military in order to move the war on terror forward. From Borno to Niger, from the southern Kaduna to southern Adamawa, the nation seems to be on the throes of death as mindless murderers are daily deploying weapons of mass destruction to unleash maximum damage on the country’s security forces. As the nation gropes in the dark over what measures to adopt in salvaging what remains of our country, there is a need to ensure that these service chiefs are asked to step aside so that younger brains can take over and end the assault on both the populace and the military. Last line “The Chairman of Senate Committee on NDDC collected 1,000 of those jobs and said he was going to give it to the Senate. The records are there. The 1,000 contracts were collected by a man called Nelson Agbamuche on behalf of the Senate.” -Executive Director (Projects) of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), while speaking in a viral video on award of contracts in NDDC.