The issue is no longer whether or not President Muhammadu Buhari breached aspects of the nation’s constitution by retaining certain public servants, including the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai and several other top government officials, beyond the statutorily required length of time in service. Fact as at now is that he has, whether reluctantly, under pressure, satisfied that it was time for them to go, or he became convinced that they have become dead wood as far as in particular wedging war against insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism and other high-scale trans-boarder crimes are concerned, removed them from office.
That the presidency told Nigerians that President Buhari accepted their resignation, retirement or that they were kicked out off is not also relevant as well. What Nigerians want to hear is that their successors have picked up the pieces, retooled the Armed Forces, restored sanity in the land and provided the ambience for Nigerians and residents to conduct their affairs without any molestation from anywhere.
And that is why it has become important that while we at The AUTHORITY join other well-meaning Nigerians to congratulate Maj-Gen. Lucky Irabor, the new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS); the Chief of Army Staff, Maj.Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru; the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal Oladayo Amao; and the Chief of Naval Staff, Rea Admiral Awwal Gambo on their appointments. There is no doubt that each of them had paid their dues in the service of fatherland and deserves to be so elevated.
However, rolling the drums does not serve the end. It is in satisfying the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians and foreign nationals resident in the country.
For nearly 20 years, Nigeria has been passing through hell of a moment. From the brigandage of armed robbers who have all the time menacingly taken over the highways and hinterland, to kidnapping, which crept into the country slowly and has now assumed to be one of the most lucrative illicit businesses thriving in the country, to Boko Haram insurgency, up to banditry and herdsmen menace.
Under the immediate-past Service Chiefs, it had been from one bad moment to another; from one deafening news to the worst; from an atrocious activity to another. The woes were endless and Nigerians paid dearly while they served in office. Headly did any day pass without the chilling news or herdsmen invading one sleepy community or another, setting houses ablaze, destroying property and killing scores of people. Boko Haram terrorists on their part, lived a larger than life style, and in some instances, dictating the life style of a large swathe of communities, especially in the North-Eastern part of the country and building pockets of active cells in other parts of the country.
What made the entire episode terrible was that the erstwhile Service Chiefs appeared not to be interested in halting the menace, as they chose to give different interpretation to various acts of brigandage of the criminal elements sponsoring mayhem in parts of the country, at time describing invasion of communities in terms such as “herder-farmer clash”, to asking Nigerians to give out their land or “die”, to saying that certain people are not accommodating.
They tried to hide under what is so popularly referred to as “Security Report” to justify their ineffectiveness, giving baptismal names to clear-cut brigandage and outright violation of the rights of the citizenry. At no time were serious issues such as security so trivialised that it became a subject of politics, rather than serious issue that should not broach any form of religious or tribal connotation; but it did, unfortunately and we all lived with this infamy.
In this respect, Gen. Irabor and his colleagues have a golden opportunity to write their names in gold or go the way of their predecessors, leaving office with very poor public rating. Therefore, Irabor and his team have to sit down, throw into the dust bin, all the programmes hitherto being implemented by their predecessors and immediately re-design the ante, screw up the balls and fire-off the canons. They should remember that “good name is better than silver and gold” and so, should understand that the unity of Nigeria has been entrusted into their hands and they have no option than dry to dilute all these tense up activities that are currently decimating the very foundation of Nigeria’s unity.
Without pretending, Gen. Irabor should understand that the issue of Boko Haram has assumed such notoriety that the ordinary folks believe, and to a large extent, greater majority of Nigerians, that that issue has become the most lucrative business in the country. Irabor and his colleagues should understand the herdsmen menace all across the country are issues that should be brought to its knees and are being regarded as “the influential man’s wickedness against the helpless Nigerians”. They should also be made to understand in clear and unmistakable terms that banditry have long become a business in which unfortunately, even state governors take delight in associating with. Irabor and other Service Chiefs should appreciate the fact that kidnapping for ransom has become the shame of the Nigerian nation and that aside making Nigeria one of the most unsafe countries in the world, foreign missions have not minced words advising their nationals to avoid coming into Nigeria.
What can be more hopeless than these scenarios? It is in this respect that the AUTHORITY calls on Gen. Irabor and other Service Chiefs to please make the constitution their cardinal reference. They should understand that Nigerians look up to them as capable of rescuing them from the current menace and they cannot therefore afford to disappoint Nigerians. Things have become so terribly bad in the country that no act of patriotism can cover up the mess. They should understand the Military incursion into the nation’s polity through the backyard, by lending support to political hirelings and brigands, have not helped to being about progress to the country. The Military should completely isolate themselves from politics in whatever guise; rather they should be seen as a beacon through which our democratic process would improve and stand the test of time. But, going behind the scene to cause greater havoc, is an ill wind that blows none any good. They should therefore restrict their men to performing only constitutionally-approved roles and if called upon to do anything to the contrary, should like gentlemen that they are back off.
Nigerians looking up to Gen. Irabor to salvage the country, not as the Commander-in-Chief but as a veritable subordinate, with firmness of practical engagement that will restore hope to the already helpless Nigerians. Pretending that all is going on well as our political leaders would want us to continue to sound is unpatriotic. Let us call a spade by its name. We believe we have done our own beat, what is remaining is for Gen. Irabor to prove that the hopes and aspirations of Nigerians would not be dashed as was the case under the last dispensation.