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Insecurity: Nigerians set agenda for new service chiefs

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Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral A. Z Gambo (left); Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General LEO Irabor; President Muhammadu Buhari; Chief of Army Staff, Major-General, I. Attahiru and Chief of Air Staff, Air-Vice Marshal I.O Amao. Photo; TWITTER/FMICNIGERIA

A lot of Nigerians sighed with relief on Tuesday, January 26, when the Presidency announced the appointment of new service chiefs by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Those so appointed are Maj-Gen. Lucky E.O. Irabor as Chief of Defence Staff (CDS); Maj-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru as Chief of Army Staff (COAS); Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo as Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) and Air-Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao as Chief of Air Staff (CAS).

Their appointment followed the retirement of the former service chiefs, which many Nigerians had clamoured for, but were seemingly ignored, even in the face of rising criminality in the country.

Many of those who commended the President for taking the step said the change of guards could not have come at a better time, while to others, the action was belated.

However, at the bottom of it all is that Nigerians want to be secure from increasing attacks by kidnappers, bandits, Boko Haram insurgents and criminal herders, among others, which they feel the former service chiefs could not guarantee.

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The question now is, given the complexity of the present security challenges, what was missing in the efforts of the former service chiefs? What do their successors need to do to ensure success and restore confidence of Nigerians in the security architecture?

The Guardian spoke with some Nigerians, including security experts, who provided answers to the above posers.

‘New Military Chiefs Should Apply Structured Analytical Thinking In Inventing Solutions’
Security expert, Dr. Ona Ekhomu, has advised the newly appointed military chiefs in the country to predict victory over the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast, the banditry in the Northwest and other sundry insurgencies in the country.

He stated that by making a prediction of victory and focusing on achieving it, the military chiefs might in fact defeat the threats.

Speaking with The Guardian, Ekhomu, who is the National President of Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operator of Nigeria (AISSON), said the current efforts to vanquish the terrorists, insurgents and bandits were in a stalemate.

According to him, “while the bandits control three local governments in Niger State, the government controls all others. This means the adversaries are not winning and cannot win. So, we have a stalemate. I am therefore calling upon the new service chiefs to employ sophisticated knowledge and cutting-edge military tools available to them to ensure victory.”

Ekhomu said the service chiefs must be cerebral in approaching the “extant and existential security threats”. He noted that there has been a “metastasis of the threat,” adding that, “just like COVID-19, more virulent strains of Boko Haram and banditry are evolving. The security situation is really quite troubling and needs to be addressed with utmost urgency and brilliance.”

He urged the military chiefs to apply structured analytical thinking in inventing solutions to the security threats.

Ona Ekhomu

“The military helmsmen should use powerful idea generation tools like morphological analysis, quadrant crunching, cross impact matrix, nominal group technique, structured brainstorming, virtual brainstorming and star bursting. The high level risk mitigation tools contained in my new book, Boko Haram Security Consideration and the Rise of an Insurgency, should be employed to combat the hydra-headed monster of insurgency, banditry and terrorism,” he said.

Ekhomu further stated that given the pedigree of the new Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor, who he described as a “brainy, courageous and battle-hardened military officer,” he was sure that the inter-service rivalry that had bedevilled integrated warfare against Boko Haram would be a thing of the past.

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He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for choosing an excellent set of officers as service chiefs, noting that he was confident that they would quickly win the support and cooperation of Nigerians, which he said, was crucial to defeating insurgency in the country.

He advised them to anticipate obstacles and overcome them, noting that encountering “dead ends, road closures and detours” were a part of the journey of leadership.

“As experienced leaders, the military chiefs are expected to overcome these obstacles and achieve victory,” he noted.

‘Welfare Of Troops Should Be Given Priority To Boost Their Morale’
By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, has lamented the spate of insecurity in the country, noting that, “things have deteriorated to a level where kidnapping is no longer limited to the South but the entire country.”

In an interview with The Guardian, Rafsanjani said there was need for effective coordination, collaboration and synergy between the security agencies in order to address the security challenges facing the country.

“Kidnappers are now abducting hundreds of school children from their school premises and making away with busloads of travellers. Cross-border bandits are killing innocent citizens in their dozens. Food insecurity looms because farmers are either being killed or those displaced are afraid of returning home to continue with their cherished vocation. Yet, there is no let-up in armed robbery. The rivalry between the different security organisations must stop. This dispensation must strike the rhythm for effective coordination, collaboration and synergy as a diamond formation to victory,” he said.

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Rafsanjani said this should be a point of entry for the new service chiefs, adding: “Good enough, their credentials suggest that they are well experienced in tactics and strategy.”

He advised them to review the current de-radicalisation strategy of the military. “Secondly, they need to provide proper facilities and equipment to enable soldiers to effectively deal with the insurgents. Besides, Nigeria needs to take care of the welfare of her troops. Not only should they be paid all their entitlements while out there defending their fatherland, they should also be well equipped to be able to repel the forces of terror.

“Issues that should lead to soldiers protesting or scampering away from battlefield should be avoided. If soldiers have overstayed their appointed time, they should be replaced with fresh ones to avoid fatigue setting in. The new regime should as a matter of urgency investigate the resignation of over 127 soldiers in recent weeks as well as non-payment of pension to veterans. By so doing, a standard template for transparency and accountability will be institutionalised.

“But above all, to win the war against Boko Haram, the government has to win the war of the mind. Most of the people conscripted by the terrorists have been brainwashed to believe they are fighting for God and would go straight to heaven if they die in the process. This is the most difficult aspect of the war to fight. Until the government and religious leaders are able to counter it effectively, only very little progress can be made in the war against terror.

“The new regime must therefore work very closely with stakeholders on the non-kinetic aspects. CISLAC recently launched a technical working group on protection of civilians and civilian harm mitigation. It is a robust platform that can support new and ongoing efforts of the armed forces with strategic communications to the communities,” he said.

He added that while militancy, a major security threat in the Niger Delta region, has receded remarkably, killings by armed herdsmen and bandits have grown in scope and intensity.

Rafsanjani urged the new chiefs to adopt an intelligence-led response to the challenge, saying this would save money, time and casualties.

“A whole lot must go into building confidence and resilience from communities and partnership building. There is a huge disconnect between the people and the Armed Forces and this clearly suggests that information is not adequate. It has a huge potential of drifting citizens into deeper resentment of the security institutions,” he noted.

Rafsanjani also said the new service chiefs should be professionals and not politicians in uniform. “The situation where on every issue the Army would issue a statement to condemn human rights groups and media for calling on the security agencies to respect human rights should not continue under this dispensation,” he stated.

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‘This Is Time To Unravel Real Sponsors Of Boko Haram’
By Daniel Anazia
A criminologist, Monday Uko, has advised the newly appointed service chiefs to adopt a holistic approach as they seek to secure the country and make it habitable for everyone residing in it.

Uko, who is a retired police officer, also said the service chiefs should make serious efforts to identify the real sponsors of Boko Haram, both local and international.

He said: “They should also identify their strength, their supply route of armament, food and water; possibly for blockage. Also they need to carry out surreptitious investigation to spot out internal saboteurs among the Nigerian commanders and other fighters.

“They should study the modus operandi and occasional change of tactics by the rebels; identify the soft target of the insurgents and improve to a higher fighting weaponry that is world standard.

“They should forget the appellation giant of Africa and Black most populous country, and seek combat support from neighbouring countries like Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. There should be true partnership with sister agencies like the Police, Customs, Immigration, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). They should get more intelligence gathering from locals like community police, farmers, hunters and transporters, among others.

“They should strategise and plan a massive counter measure operation with time frame and periodic evaluation of each tactical operation.”

Uko also tasked the security chiefs to unravel the reasons for the disgruntlement and occasional acts of disloyalty by some soldiers.

A retired soldier, who is now into security consultancy but pleaded anonymity, told The Guardian that while he was confident that the new service chiefs would deliver on their assignment, synergy between the CDS and the CAS would enhance the chances for success.

“The thing is that the Boko Haram issue, which actually is a minute issue, is not a ground operation but an aerial operation. If the CAS can cooperate with the CDS, that battle is as good as won; it won’t take a month and Nigerians will see that the insurgents have been totally decimated. The ground is well opened that if the military can deploy aerial arsenals the battle would be won,” he said.

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‘Nigerians Will Like To See Recovered Territories Occupied’
From   Lawrence Njoku, Enugu
Former National Chairman of the defunct United Progressives Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, has stated that the new service chiefs have their agenda cut out for them already.

Okorie

According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari aptly set the stage for them when they visited the Presidential Villa shortly after their appointment by telling them that Nigeria was in state of war.

Okorie said: “The new service chiefs must hit the ground running. The jubilation noticed among officers and men of the Armed Forces across military formations in Nigeria was a clear indication that the sacked service chiefs really overstayed their welcome. Expectations by Nigerians are very high. The era of various security agencies working at cross-purposes must be over. Synergy should be their watchword and key strategy.

“I would like to see a new National Security Adviser (NSA) with cognate experience in intelligence to complete the leadership matrix of a new security architecture. Such NSA will provide effective coordination and strategy while the service chiefs will concentrate more on issues of tactics in executing their tasks. They must ensure and sustain the high morale of the fighting forces. Nigerians will like to see that recovered territories are occupied and secured from re-occupation by the insurgents.

“The military personnel on our roads doing the job constitutionally designated for the police and allied agencies should immediately be withdrawn to beef up the fighting forces at security flashpoints. The new service chiefs must distance the armed forces from partisanship to eliminate being politically exposed and compromised.  Their collaboration with communities in war areas must be enhanced to be able to benefit from credible intelligence based on mutual trust.”

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Also speaking, the Archbishop, Enugu Ecclesiastical Province (Anglican Communion), Rt. Revd. Emmanuel Chukwuma, said:
“As we commend the Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari for the appointment of the service chiefs, Nigerians are expecting a new turn in the defence and security of Nigeria. A lot of money has been released and spent on defence including the money spent on equipment. But it is important for us to note that the out gone service chiefs, despite all the money released, did not perform to expectation. Their best efforts could not end Boko Haram and insurgency.

“It took Nigeria three years to end the civil war but now, for over 11 years, Boko Haram has not ended. It is a shame and disgrace to the Armed Forces that all these banditry and kidnappings are going on. We feel that the service chiefs that have gone should give account of what they have done. I therefore move that the immediate past service chiefs should be probed to give account for the whole money released to them for defence, yet they were incapable of ending insurgency in the Northeast.

“But be that as it may, the new service chiefs must live up to the responsibilities of their office by improving the security situation of the country as fast as possible. They must do this in order to restore the confidence of Nigerians on the administration.”

The Executive Director of Civil Rights Initiative, Dr. Goodluck Eze, however, submitted that the new security chiefs must first believe in the unity and development of the country, stressing that “only then can they work for the interest of the entire country.”

Eze said: “There is no way they can work well if they don’t see the country as one indivisible entity and know that individual rights of the citizens no matter where he or she is coming from should be respected. I say this because you cannot be seen as serving well when you protect only those from one ethnic group against the others.

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“The way we have gone so far can tell anybody that this country is now more divided than ever. It is like every section is at war with the other and that is because more time and resources had been spent in protecting a segment of the country against the others.

“So, I think the new service chiefs have a lot of responsibilities. They must ensure the oneness of this country. They must return the pride that made an Igbo man feel at home with the Hausa or Yoruba. Look at the manner in which threats and counter threats are now being issued. Look at the level of killings and kidnappings going on. It has become increasingly difficult to move about in the country, not to think of making investments.

“So, all I am saying is that the new service chiefs must not make the mistakes their predecessors made by undermining the very things that brought them to office. There were compromises here and there and that is why it has become almost difficult to manage the security situation of the country.

“We will continue to support them in prayers to ensure they succeed. We will provide them with the needed information where necessary, believing that it will assist in their work. We will also ask them to adopt an open door policy that could make members of the society engage with them easily.”

‘Collaboration Between Security Agencies Needed To Get Victory Over Boko Haram’
From Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi, Jos
Former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Jonah Wuyep  (rtd), has expressed confidence that the new service chiefs appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari would successfully tackle the problem of insecurity in the country.

Wuyep, who spoke with newsmen in Jos, yesterday, said he had so much confidence in the new Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air-Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao.

“Amao is a brilliant and outstanding officer who would do well as the CAS. He is a dedicated professional with the requisite experience for the job,” he said.

Wuyep noted that the sacrifices of the new CAS towards the peace and progress of the nation, especially his acknowledged gallantry at assignments, were outstanding.

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“Amao has the requisite experience for his new job with his core competence in strong leadership and professional skills. He had brought his wealth of experience to bear on all his assignments in the Nigerian Air Force.”

Wuyep further stated that collaboration between security agencies would give the new service chiefs victory over Boko Haram and other security challenges in the country.

“I would expect the government to give them all the support to do their best. I expect to see more synergy, let them work as a team and carry out more intelligence gathering.

“I am confident that the new Service Chiefs especially that of the Air Force would bring in some fresh air to the security situation in the country,” he stressed.

Speaking further, Wuyep said the NAF had recorded tremendous success in the past few years, especially in enhancing the service’s operational efficiency and the welfare of its personnel.

“The immediate past CAS, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, did well in repositioning the NAF into a highly professional and disciplined force, which was clearly defined through capacity building initiatives to ensure effectiveness, efficiency and timeliness in the employment of Air Power to address the security challenges facing the country,” he added.

He called on the Nigerians to support the new service chiefs to enable them succeed in tackling insecurity.

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