From 2015 when President Buhari became the president of the country, the security situation has been worsening, with many people blaming the service chiefs for this. There were several calls for the sack of the service chiefs, but the president ignored them. However, earlier this year 26th January 2021), the president succumbed to pressure and finally sacked the service chiefs (though he rewarded them in another way by nominating them as ambassadors), and appointed new ones.
The new service chiefs were today confirmed by the Nigerian senate.
Will there be a change for the better in the fight against boko haram, banditry, hoodlums, kidnapping, etc with this change of guard at the top?
What if the failure of the security apparatus to handle all these issues in the past were systemic and had nothing to do with the people heading the various arms of the armed forces? I mean, if there is no money to buy weapons, there is no money to buy weapons, and there is hardly anything (I think) any service chief can do in that situation. You can also look at the number of school children abductions that have happened between January (when the service chiefs were appointed) and now.
Does this action by President Buhari signal to the the service chiefs (and indeed Nigerians) that he will no longer hesitate to sack the service chiefs if they don’t perform?
Security is a top level factor that has a high impact on every aspect of any country. The military outfit is therefore charged with the responsibilities of ensuring safety of citizens and maintaining law and order. Sadly, the situation of security in Nigeria is nothing to write home about.
The decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the service chiefs and appoint new ones is normal. After all, these military superiors have been serving in these capacities for around five years. They can’t be infinitely occupying the positions as the saying goes, “variety is the spice of life”, hence a need to try out new ones.
While the reason for sacking the service chiefs might be justified, appointing new ones might not add any significant value to the quality of security in Nigeria. Consider the following reasons:
Obsolete Weapon of Warfare
In November, 2018 at Metele, northeastern Nigeria, a military base was attacked by Boko Haram insurgents, killing more than a hundred soldiers. Sources claimed that Nigerian Army’s weapon of warfare is rather outdated.
Nigerian Armed Forces are poorly funded leaving their personnel with poor standards of living. A visit to most barracks across the country will convince you on this. When military personnel especially the noncommissioned officers who are mostly at war fronts are not well remunerated what do you expect of them when it comes to performance? Nigeria is not a nation they could die for.
From his profile, it is referenced that the newly appointed Chief of Army Staff was once removed as the commander leading the fight against Boko Haram following rise in attacks. This credential is enough to disqualify this man. Someone who failed as a leader at the sub-level is likely to fail at the top level. Think about it.
Similarly, the new Chief of Defense Staff was once the Theater Commander of “Operation Lafia Dole” and Force Commander, “Multinational Joint Task Force” in the Lake Chad Basin Area. These two operations under his command failed woefully to bring Boko Haram to its knees.
Thank God for the response of The Chad government who dealt a heavy blow to these ruthless insurgents destroying five of their bases within the Basin in a single day.
After the proactive response of Chad in 2020, news reports claimed Boko Haram backed out and lay low. One would expect Nigerian Armed Forces to launch an offensive attack on their camps within the country before they recovered from the defeat they had with Chad having killed more than a thousand of their gunmen. Instead Nigerian soldiers withdraw under the leadership of the new Chief of Defense Staff giving chance to the sinister monsters to regain strength and gather momentum for subsequent attacks which eventually occurred.
Most of these new service chiefs were once part of the old defense administration. They failed together. Bringing them in as the new top guard does not change anything.
Before now, we dealt majorly with the challenges of Boko Haram. This fight has been ongoing for more than ten years. Now we have multiple enemies: bandits, hoodlums, kidnapers, killer-herdsmen and more. What makes anyone think they will thrive better when we now have more wars in our hands.
Changing the service chiefs is not a lasting solution, changing our approach to security is. There should be zero tolerance for terrorism. No more negotiations with insurgents. Intelligence and high level forensic should be deployed. If you are bring the new service chiefs into a system that is not sanitized and well-equipped they will still fail.
The action of President Buhari in delaying the removal of the former service chiefs despite being advised by the National Assembly has only signaled to the masses and the service chiefs that they can do as they dim fit. He himself as the president does not set parameters for them to work with. The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces needs to be more proactive.
To be Frank, there would be no change in the security apparatus, even when our president, Muhammad Buhari sacked all the service chiefs. The insecurity problem in Nigeria is from the top. How can the service chiefs performs their duties or fight against insurgency like bokoharam, banditry, hoodlums etc when the money provided for arms or ammunition are hijacked by top powerful politicians in terms of contract.
For Our president to fight against all these insurgency, he need to fight corruption from the top level because there is no way to fight against these crimes, if there is high level of corruption in the country.