Pressure from different quarters continued to mount on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack his service chiefs and replace them with new ones to tackle the insecurity that permeated the country.
The Senate, the House of Representatives, regional groups and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Tuesday said that the service chiefs had overstayed their tenure, ran out of ideas and have continued to give needless excuses.
The service chief are: the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar
Daily Trust reports that they were appointed by Buhari in 2015, shortly after he took the oath of office for his first term. Over six years down the lane, and despite pressure from different quarters for the president to inject new blood and rejuvenate the security architecture, Buhari remains adamant with the Villa saying the commander-in-chief cannot be forced to do something against his wish.
The call for the sacking of the service chiefs took a centre stage of public discourse from Saturday when dozens of rice farmers were slaughtered by Boko Haram close to Maiduguri in Borno.
Even though there was no official comment from the Villa on the matter on Tuesday, The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, told the Arise TV on Monday, that “It is entirely his (Buhari’s) determination; he decides who he keeps as his service chiefs and for how long.
“I am not aware that the tenure of service chiefs is subjected to any law or regulation that is clearly stated. They serve at the pleasure of the president and (if) the president is satisfied with their performance, he keeps them. The buck stops at his table,” he said.
Take our resolution serious – Lawan
Senators resumed their plenary on Tuesday with a call on Buhari to take their resolutions seriously by immediately initiating a process to replace the service chiefs.
Led by Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe), this is the second time the Red Chamber is calling for the replacement of the service chiefs. In July, the Red Chamber had asked the service chiefs to resign their appointments.
But it is the first time that Lawan, seen as a strong ally of Buhari, appeared exceedingly worried and completely aligned with his colleagues without any move to protect the presidency.
Adopting a motion by Senator Kashim Shettima (APC, Borno) on the killings of 67 farmers in the state, the Senate said Buhari must act now.
Many of the lawmakers, who contributed to the debate, lampooned the Buhari Presidency, noting that it breached Section 14(1b) of the 1999 Constitution having allegedly “failed” to provide security for the people, which, they noted, was the primary purpose of government.
In his lead debate, Senator Shettima said what the present security chiefs were doing to end insurgency was not working or not enough.
He said if the president insists that the security chiefs were doing their work well, “then the logical implication of such assumption is that the President himself, as the constitutional Commander-in-Chief of the country, has failed in his most rudimentary assignment of securing the nation.”
Senator Ahmad Baba Kaita (APC, Katsina), said killing and kidnapping had continued unabated every day, and that this must not be tolerated.
Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno), said the soldiers fighting the Boko Haram insurgents were not well-equipped. Ndume said the Senate must take a step forward on its resolutions, asking the Senate President to give President Buhari a timeline to implement the resolutions.
Senator Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi), said even though the federal government’s delegation was in Borno on Monday, the ideal thing for President Buhari to do was to visit Borno personally to condole with the families of the victims.
Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti), said if the president still likes the current service chiefs, he should recruit them into a national advisory council on security.
The Senate, accordingly, called on the president to take immediate steps to restructure and remodel the country’s security architecture and provide enough state-of-the-art weapons and equipment to effectively combat the insurgents.
Senate President Lawan said “These are not frivolous or imaginary resolutions; they are based on the reality on the country. Enough of excuses, people who have little or nothing to add to the system should be shown the exit.”
Come and talk to us – Reps
The House of Representatives also yesterday resolved to summon President Buhari to talk to them.
The resolution followed the rowdy session, which forced the House to go into an executive session following disagreements over prayer in a motion on matters of urgent national importance moved by Rep. Satomi Ahmed.
The motion was co-sponsored by other lawmakers from Borno including House Chief Whip, Mohammed Tahir Monguno, Zainab Gimba, Muktar Betara and Mallam Bukar Gana.
Other co-sponsors were Haruna Mshelia, Ahmadu Usman Jaha, Ibrahim Mohammed Bukar, Usman Zannah and Abdulkadir Rahis.
Most importantly, prayers in the original motion presented by Rep. Ahmed called on the House to invite President Buhari to brief the House on the true state of the security of the nation.
Presenting the motion, however, the prayer to summon the president was allegedly expunged and replaced with a call for the president to declare a state of emergency in the security sector.
House Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, while calling for amendment on the motion, said the Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) had failed to carry out its mandate of manufacturing weapons for the military.
House Leader Alhassan Ado Doguwa said security matters do not warrant the invitation of the president to the chamber, saying they could not be discussed in the open. However, members of the House shouted No, no, as the leader spoke, with most of them insisting that the president appears before the House.
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, however, said the prayer by Rep. Ahmed for the president to declare a state of emergency in the security sector will provide the president with an opportunity to take extraordinary measures.
But the majority of the members of the House objected, saying there was nothing wrong in inviting the president on the issue. The House was forced to go into an executive session to resolve their differences.
When they returned, they resolved to invite the president to appear before them and speak on the security issues and what is being done to address them.
Buhari should resign- NEF, others
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) yesterday said, President Buhari has demonstrated his will not to bring an end to insurgency and killings in the North and therefore should resign.
In a statement by its Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, NEF said the president’s refusal to heed to calls from prominent Nigerians to rejig security infrastructure and its leadership was evident that the North would continue to be a killing field.
The forum said it had consistently drawn attention to the lack of the political will to fight the Boko Haram insurgency and other threats such as banditry, rustling and kidnapping.
“We had offered suggestions on how the security infrastructure could be improved and leadership of the military could be made more effective, obviously, along with advice and concerns from many other Nigerians, these have made no impression on President Muhammadu Buhari.”
It said under the watch of the president, life was becoming less valuable as citizens were exposed to criminals daily; stating that all evidence points that there was the absence of willingness on the part of the president to honour his oath to provide security over Nigerians.
“In civilised nations, leaders who fail so spectacularly to provide security will do the honourable thing and resign.”
Lending its voice, the apex socio-cultural organisation of the South-South geo-political zone, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) said another call by the Senate that President Muhammadu Buhari should sack his service chiefs was cowardly.
National Chairman of PANDEF and former military Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (Rtd), who made the assertion yesterday in Uyo, stressed that what they should do was to bring to the attention of the president that the citizens were dissatisfied with the insecurity in the country and not to ask for the sack of service chiefs.
“Senators themselves are not serious. It is not for them to say sack Service chiefs. They should rather inquire from the president what is causing this insecurity in the country because the security of the country is in his hands,” he said.
Similarly, the Coalition of Nigeria Elders for Peace and Good Governance (CONEPAGG) has urged President Buhari to immediately sack the service chiefs.
They called on the federal government to seek foreign help to tackle the worsening situation, which they said must stop.
Some of the elders include Engr. Zana Goni, National Coordinator; Prof. Adebola Adeboye, Coordinator South West; Dr Ugwuanyi Emeka, Coordinator South-East; Sheik Ibrahim Mohammed, Coordinator North West; Barrister Peter Shima, Coordinator North Central; Hajiya Zainab Bulama, Coordinator North East; and Dr Solomon Dagogo, Coordinator South-South, respectively.
They also urged the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to intervene in Nigeria’s growing deteriorating security situation, asking the international security body to consider stiff sanctions against any member countries that refused to sell arms to Nigeria.
“As concerned Nigerians with love for our dear country, we had to urgently summon this emergency meeting to appraise the current security situation and proffer possible solutions.
Northern governors support foreign mercenaries
On their part, governors of the North East during a visit to Maiduguri on Tuesday said they were in support of deploying mercenaries to tackle Boko Haram.
The Abubakar Shekau faction of the Boko Haram on Tuesday in a new three minutes video claimed responsibility of the Zabarmari rice field killings, putting the number of the victims at 78.
In the video, the Boko Haram accused the farmers of arresting one of its members and handing him to the Nigerian military.
The claim appeared to be the opposite of what the military’s claim that the locals were not cooperating with security operatives in tackling terrorists.
However, resident of Maiduguri have fired back, with many of them including the Spokesman of the governor, Isa Gusau saying on his Twitter handle: “They said Borno people do not cooperate but here is the latest example: Boko Haram just announced (see @HumAngle) that they beheaded dozens of Zabarmari farmers for informing soldiers about their movement and for capturing one of their men and handing over to soldiers recently.
“This is one of many consequences of Borno peoples’ cooperation in years now. Many have died for giving intelligence to soldiers. Many have followed soldiers to battles and died, yet they won’t stop,” he said.