President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, Jan.26, hearkened to the numerous calls by Nigerians to appoint new service chiefs. In a terse statement by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, announced the appointment of new security chiefs.
He listed the helmsmen as: Maj.-Gen Lucky Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff; Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Adm. Awwal Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff and Air-Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao, Chief of the Air Staff.
Mr5 Buhari also accepted the resignation and retirement from service of the former service chiefs, viz: Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok Ekwe Ibas, and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
Though there had been numerous calls to the president to change the security chiefs as a result of increasing security challenges across the country, Buhari in his New Year message acknowledged that the security apparatus needed to be altered.
Those that clamoured for the rejig of the security architecture, believed that changing the security apparatus would be key to winning the war against the Boko Haram insurgency, kidnapping, banditry, cattle rustling, among others.
Since the announcement of the new service chiefs, many stakeholders had commended Buhari for the change, and hoped that the new appointees would live up to expectation.
In his reaction, Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno, one of states greatly devastated by the activities of bandits and Boko Haram insurgents, promised to work more closely with the security chiefs in the fight against insurgency.
Mr Zulum expressed optimism that the new service chiefs had the capacity to achieve tremendous success, especially in winning the war against insurgency.
In the same vein, Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers, said though the appointment was belated, it showed President Buhari was listening to calls for the sack of the service chiefs.
The governor challenged the new appointees to see their appointment as an opportunity to re-engineer the nation’s security architecture.
Mr Wike urged the new service chiefs not to politicise security of the country by aligning with politicians.
He said that Nigerians were looking up to the new service chiefs to make the desired change and called on all levels of government to give them the needed support to execute their assignments.
According to him, this is an opportunity to serve the nation and I believe that the service chiefs will be focused and dedicated.
The House of Representatives, in their reaction by the Chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, said with the appointment of the new service chiefs, fresh strategies, energy and new leadership style in the fight against insurgency were now expected.
Mr Kalu said that the House was glad that the executive had once again considered the opinion, desire, ambition, hunger and yearning of the people in making this decision.
“As we all know, the definition of democracy has to do with the government of the people, by the people and for the people. The last part of this definition which is for the people element ought to be the guiding light in processing decisions made by those in leadership.
“The question now should be how much of this decision has people element in it? “And I can assure you that this is what propelled the House of Representatives over these years of yearning, months of yearning through motions and resolutions on the need to sift a little bit our security architecture to reflect a more secured country, citizens, lives and property. And this is why we have pushed for it.
“Though it appeared the executive was not listening, I am sure that today, they have shown Nigerians that they are a listening leadership.
“They have accepted the resignation of the service chiefs whom we appreciate and thank so well for wearing our national colours and badges, for protecting our lives and property the way they knew best,’’ he said.
Also, the All Progressives Congress (APC), in a statement by its Secretary, Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Sen. John Akpanudoedehe, said the party was confident in the abilities of the new appointees to consolidate on the achievements of their predecessors in keeping the country safe and peaceful.
The APC called for public support for the new service chiefs as they perform their constitutional roles of protecting our country’s territorial integrity and tackle emerging security threats and also urged increased synergy among the armed forces.
According to the party, recent incidents in the country have triggered divisive rhetorics in some quarters. It is counter-productive and dangerous to national security when we put ethnic bias to issues affecting us.
In tackling security threats, we should criminalise crime, not ethnicity.
“As a nation, our strength remains in our diversity and we should continue to forge unity in that diversity. We urge peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding among Nigerians irrespective of the part of the country we chose to live and work.’’
On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbodiyan, expressed hope that the new service chiefs would brace up to the challenges confronting the nation.
He noted that their appointment demanded a huge sense of commitment, responsibility and determination to secure our nation and restore peace, order and national cohesion.
According to Ologbodiyan, the party urges the new service chiefs to take urgent steps to restore professionalism and boost the morale of our troops.
He advised them to abhor corruption, recklessness and partisanship.
Reacting, the National Publicly Secretary of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Mr Emmanuel Yawe, expressed the hope that the new service chiefs would justify the confidence reposed in them by the president.
According to Yawe, when Buhari came into office as President, the ACF had expected him to sort out the security problems of Nigeria speedily.
“Of late, we have complained endlessly about insecurity. We only pray that the new security chiefs will serve Nigeria better.”
Similarly, a former Chief of Defence Staff, retired Gen. Alani Akinrinade, said that changing the service chiefs was not the nation’s biggest challenge.
He said that the new security chiefs could only achieve their mandates in accordance with the mindset of the president.
He said that decisive actions needed to be taken by the government to address challenges of insecurity like the Boko Haram insurgency, armed herdsmen/ farmers’ clashes and issue of banditry.
On his part, elder statesman, Tanko Yakasai, described the appointment of the new service chiefs as a welcome development, saying he hoped they will perform better than their predecessors
He advised the new service chiefs to listen to the concern of Nigerians over the deteriorating security challenges and do their best to tackle the problems.
“I congratulate them and pray that the country will soon see significant changes in the fight against insurgency, banditry and general insecurity,’’ Yakasai said.