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Pick fresh service chiefs, increase defence budget to solve insecurity, northern leaders tell Buhari

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Northern elders have described President Muhammadu Buhari’s New Year message as empty for failing to address calls by Nigerians demanding the disengagement of his security chiefs over the nation’s worsening security situation.

They charged him to immediately appoint new security heads in deference to Nigeria’s federal character principles to execute the job at hand.

Yielding to the yearnings of the citizens, the chieftains noted, remained the only way the President could convince them of hope for positive results in the ongoing war against insecurity in the region.

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The prominent Nigerians, who spoke under the auspices of Coalition of North East Elders for Peace and Development, submitted that the dominance of the nation’s security infrastructure by a particular section was morally wrong, as according to them, the development “may also have emboldened the criminals. There must be immediate change of guard that reflects the federal character principles if the war against insecurity is to be taken seriously.”

In a statement issued by the national coordinator, Zana Goni, the group noted that the continued retention of the service chiefs years after their retirement was not only unconstitutional, but had also allegedly dampened the morale of personnel and frontline troops.

The elders maintained that the current team was not adding any value to the nation’s security management, claiming that the rising crime wave in the North was being downplayed by the media.

They observed: “Many people are dying daily in the North as a result of banditry and insurgency, but the situation is being underreported.”

The body insisted that the solutions to the problem at hand were sacking of the security helmsmen and increasing of defence budget besides career development for Nigeria to regain its glory days.

The group said sending the service chiefs packing without increased defence spending could also get the country out of the woods, as according to it, a robust funding, which would lead to the military having necessary tools to stand taller than their adversaries, is key.

The agitators advised Buhari to stop looking at the service chiefs as indispensable, saying there “are more efficient and tactically trained officers in the military with valour to confront the adversaries headlong and end the nation’s over a decade-long insecurity, especially insurgency and terrorism in the North.”

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The statement read in part: “We listened to the New Year speech of Mr. President with rapt attention, believing that he was going to give us new service chiefs as a New Year gift. But to our disappointment, the President was silent on this key issue that is on the lips of every Nigerian.

“At the moment, the most important thing to every Nigerian is security. They want their lives to be protected first. The National Assembly has since understood this and that is why as representatives of the people, they have since been calling for a more robust, efficient and effective security management for the country.

“They recognise that this cannot be achieved without emplacing a complete new security architecture in place. That is why the two chambers of the legislature came up with resolutions seeking replacement of the service chiefs. But after months of this genuine and patriotic call by the people’s representatives, President Buhari is yet to accede to their request. This is unfair to Nigerians whose lives are being cut down on a daily basis.

“We still stand by the position of the National Assembly where members unanimously resolved that the President should relieve the security chiefs of their positions to pave way for not only fresh hands, but also fresh ideas in our security management strategies.”

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