• ‘We’re tired of excuses by military top brass’
• ‘Our silence misconstrued because of the background of service chiefs’
• Nyiam, Yakassai, others back call
• ‘Their retention against military protocol’
Northern elite, yesterday, threw their weight behind the call on President Muhammadu Buhari by North-East elders to sack the service chiefs owing to the worsening security situation in the country, especially in the Northeast region.
Among those that supported the firing of the security top brass was a delegate to the 2014 National Conference, Tony Nyiam; human rights activist and former liaison officer to the late President Shehu Shagari, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai; President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Alhaji Yerima Shetima; and another northern activist, Dr. Tanko Yusuf.
The North East elders, under the aegis of Coalition of North East Elders for Peace and Development, (CNEEPD) had, during the weekend, expressed worries over growing insecurity, saying excuses being tendered by service chiefs were no longer acceptable to them.
The elders, who made their position known in a statement, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, listen to Nigerians by implementing a recent resolution by the National Assembly asking him to rejig the country’s security design with a view to improving security, which they described as “so bad.”
The statement, tagged: ‘We are tired of excuses, sack service chiefs now,’ was signed by the group’s Chairman, Zana Goni.
The elders regretted that their silence had been misconstrued by some people and sections of the country because of the geographical background of the security chiefs, explaining that their action was nothing close to that.
According to the elders, they had been silent with the hope that things would get better as promised regularly by the military leaders.
“But we have seen that in spite of the funding of the military by our dear President and the assurances by our service chiefs that things would change, nothing seems to be happening in that direction. This is regrettable.
“The worsening security situation in the country is further reinforcing the urgent need to inject new hands with fresh ideas to handle the nation’s security architecture. We have seen that the security situation under the current service chiefs has reached an unbearable state,” they said in the statement.
According to them, the nation has been distressed by mindless killings of citizens and pillaging of defenceless communities by insurgents, bandits, and kidnappers. “There is no denying the fact also that these have resulted in indescribable agony, anguish, and torment to the Nigerian citizens.”
The statement added: “We, the Coalition of North East Elders for Peace and Development, in the strongest terms, restate the call on President Muhammadu Buhari to honour the resolution of the National Assembly and positions of the majority of Nigerians to immediately remove the service chiefs and bring in new hands to effectively confront the security challenges staring us in our face as a nation.”
It also noted that the service chiefs were the longest in Nigeria’s history and argued that they had become war-weary and bereft of new ideas to tackle insecurity.
“We are stating our position this day with deep and unbearable pains, given the lingering and unabated insecurity on our land. There is no doubt that 10 years down the line, the situation is worsening by the day. This is unacceptable, considering the efforts Mr. President has put in so far to arrest the situation,” the elders added.
They said it was obvious that service chiefs Buhari appointed to drive his vision on security had run out of ideas to end the war, and needed to be fired.
According to them, they would no longer sit on the fence and watch the situation, which had become a nightmare to Nigerians, and wondered why the President was still keeping the service chiefs despite calls from every section of the country for them to go.
Nigerians voted for Buhari massively, they claimed, because of his vast experience in security and demanded a secure North East and Nigeria.
They argued that sacking the chiefs and appointing new and younger officers into the system would restore lost morale, zeal, hope, and confidence to the armed forces and the country.
“It is obvious that the current crop of service chiefs have overstayed and have run out of ideas to win the war against insurgents. Mr. President must show them the way out, our ways of livelihood in the North East have been destroyed by insurgents and the poverty level in our zone now is so high. It is on these premises that we call on President Buhari to sack the service chiefs without further delay,” they added.
Supporting the call, Nyiam described it as amazing and hoped that President Buhari would give it consideration.
He said the stay of the service chiefs was against the military protocol that states that “if an officer is in a battle for so long and nothing positive is coming up, he or she should be removed and give space for fresh brains.”
He added, “From my findings as a retired military officer, I was told authoritatively that the Chief of Defence Staff is even performing more than the Chief of Army Staff. I don’t know why Mr. President is very heady about retaining Burutai.”
Nyiam said the demand of CNEEPD must have been influenced by what the National Security Adviser to the President had been saying.
“This is part of the nepotism, which we least expected from the person of Mr President. The service chiefs are indeed due for removal and retirement, whichever way,” he added.
Yakassai said North East elders were in a better position to air their views on how insecurity was affecting them to the President.
He said, “I have said it that President Buhari cannot handle the problems of this nation and I have been attacked. It is now time for me to rest and allow others to talk.”
While commending CNEEPD, Shetima said the group needed to be applauded for daring to tell Mr President to remove the service chiefs.
He said: “The North East leaders are not saying something different from what we have been saying. The truth is that insecurity has escalated across the north. But beyond the agitation for the removal of the service chiefs, their tenure is also over. I have said that as we urge the government to ease out the current service chiefs, the government must be committed to ending insurgency by ensuring that necessary tools are provided for the military to confront the bandits. Otherwise, nothing will change.”
Similarly, another northern activist, Dr Yusuf said he had earlier made a call for the sacking of the service chiefs.
“To be candid, I had spoken ahead of CNEEPD that the current service chiefs are long due for change but the government remained adamant. Aside from these, they are supposed to have retired and allowed fresh brains to handle the situation. Mr President has been a disappointment in this regard.”