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Re: Beyond sack of service chiefs

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Chief of Air Staff; Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar; Chief of Naval Staff; Vice Marshal Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; Chief of Army Staff; Lt. General Tukur Yusufu Buratai and Chief of Defence Staff; General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin.

I read the article of the above caption in your 20th August, 2020 edition. The article was eminently and scholarly written by Victor Mayomi and I wish to make this rejoinder thereto. There is truism in the assertion that the civil service is a thankless job. This assertion cannot but resonate more in our clime. However, the thanklessness of the civil service is almost always aroused by the performance or nonperformance of the personality involved whilst in office. And what does this mean? This means that it is almost certain that a public/civil servant who discharges himself/herself creditably whilst in office will almost always get the deserved accolades. Examples abound, Super permanent secretary of the federation in the 1970s Allison Ayida, Philip Asiodu and late Chief Obafemi Awolowo will probably not consider the public service a thankless job, neither is the public ungrateful or ascribe thanklessness to them.

I sympathize with the service chiefs only to the extent that their refusal or unwillingness to be principled enough to throw in the towel being activated by asphyxiation with the perks and allure of power.

And have thereby incurred odium from the majority of Nigerians. Meanwhile the groundswell of opinion in Nigeria, at least since early 2019 is to the effect that the service chiefs be fired. Both the Senate and House of Representatives and virtually everybody of note has echoed it loud and clear that the service chiefs have long overstayed their welcome but the President has continued to retain them in office. Other than a penchant to cling to power by every means necessary, I think that in the face of the clamor from high places, the service chiefs on their own accord should have taken the initiative to throw in the towel after all they have nothing to lose, but their credibility and honor to gain. They simply have run out of ideas. Kidnapping is on the rise, banditry is askance, Boko Haram appears to have been handed a blank cheque to waste and maim the folks in the North East, cattle rustling is no longer news because of its reoccurrence. If the service chiefs are not blame worthy, then who is?

Or is Victor Mayomi, with due respect, insinuating that in the event of the exit of the present service chiefs Nigeria Armed Forces will be short of warm blooded and gallant officers who can take the Nigerian Armed Forces to Lofty heights while taking the fight to the insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, and cattle rustlers? We see how it took the Chadian Army to teach us how to take the battle to the insurgents? And as soon as the Chadian Army withdrew we too went to sleep. The rest they say is history. Truth be told, it appears Mr. Victor Mayomi, with utmost respect is suggesting that in the guise of patriotism, Nigerians ought to maintain something of a stoic silence in the face of glaring inadequacies on the part of the service chiefs? I agree with Mayomi that the service chiefs had their lofty sides, they actually pushed the insurgents back early in the day between 2015 and 2017. But the fire has since burned out. The insurgents are beginning to rear its head since 2019 and they are more determined and brutal. You can ask our folks in Bornu and Adamawa States. The service chiefs have lost it long ago and the best thing to do in the circumstance is for the C in C to relieve them of their duties and put younger and more vibrant officers who will bring new ideas and charisma to the table.

It is my case that since 2019 the fight against Boko Haram, insurgency, criminality generally, banditry etc have steadily been going downhill with the resultant pogrom in Kaduna South no clue, Banditry in Zamfara, Katsina and Niger States no clue, Kidnapping all over Nigeria also no clue. One can go on and on but that is beside the point. The point is the notion by Mr. Victor that Nigerians criticisms of and agitation for the change of service chiefs is a veritable source of distraction to our troops, the service chiefs and the strategy and win-ability of the fight against insurgency. Again, Mayomi missed the point. He perhaps does not remember that everybody is entitled to his own opinion. Everybody has eyes to see. Observation and opinion is not exclusive to some alone. It is inclusive of all. So it appears as an insult for anyone to claim frustration, or disappointment just because other person’s opinion differs from his/her. Dissenting opinions serves to bring out the best in us as a corporate entity. Further still, when you keep silent you become a part of the problem. Those speaking out serves to remind us that there exist problems begging for solutions. The late American President J.F Kennedy put it aptly that “the hottest part of hell will be reserved for those who stand on the fence in times of moral crises.

Also in disagreement with Mr. Mayomi that the very fact the C in C has continued to invest confidence and hope in the service chiefs means that Nigeria should necessarily agree with the President. With profound respect to the C in C it is obvious that his excellency has other reasons for the continued retention of the service chiefs outside their job performance as it relates to insecurity. The C in C alluded to this much when he stated recently that Nigerians expect more from the service chiefs. Going forward it is a no brainer that wars against insurgents and terrorist are not easily won. It is also true that the soviets, the British and Americans, inspite of their military might and firepower could not tame the Taliban in Afghanistan. But the analogy is hardly apt. Taliban is not local to the Soviet, American or British. Nigeria is fighting a localized insurgent. Americans can be excused because they do not know the treacherous Afghan mountains and caves Ditto the British and Soviets.

Nigeria Armed Forces cannot be excused for not mastering Sambisa forest, which to a large extent is the epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency. Even assuming without conceding that British, Americans and the Soviet were unable to subdue the Taliban, they did not lose troops and citizens at the rate we are losing troops and locals in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa States in particular. Sadly, we are no closer to the end of the insurgency and banditry than we were in 2015 when this administration promised to put an end to Bokoharam’s menace. Five years down the line and counting and somebody is feeling ‘embarrassingly annoyed’ at the grumblings and mumblings in the polity, against insecurity, banditry and criminality virtually countrywide. Are we not entitled to complain?

In retrospect, it does appear that Mr. Mayomi is sounding like an apologist or mouthpiece of the narrative that Nigeria could not have done any better in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency. That being the case Mr. Mayomi has done a shambolic job of it. Else he ought to have conceded that Nigerians should reasonably become impatient, frustrated and embarrassed that our own Nigeria Army has become so demoralized and whittled down that it cannot defeat book haram, and to the extent that book Haram and insurgents are wasting our troops and helpless citizens without a coherent, articulate and lethal response. I think that is the point. Mr. Mayomi should understand that ‘holy anger’ is not what is required at this point. We need to put our best foot forward and as things stand presently in the fight against insurgency banditry and criminality generally, the service chiefs should give way to new blood as the present service chiefs cannot reasonably be expected to galvanize morale and transparency that are badly needed at this point.

Adebola wrote from Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abuja.


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