The recurrent clamour for the sacking of the country’s security chiefs over the worsening state of insecurity took a frantic turn the other day, when the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, attributed the destructive violence and insecurity plaguing the country, especially the north, to the inefficiency of the security chiefs.
The statement of the JNI read in part: “We … condemn the repeated brutal acts in their entirety; especially the lackadaisical attitude of relevant security agencies that seemed to be overwhelmed, despite repeated calls by concerned and well-meaning Nigerians for decisive action.”
The JNI’s statement, which came in the wake of earlier clamour by the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and protests by Arewa youth organisations, also informed the Federal Government that Nigerians had a right to express their feelings over the spate of killings in the country, especially in the north.
Earlier on, Nigerians from every part of the ethnic and religious divide had called on the president to sack the service chiefs for their apparent incapacitation amidst the escalation of violence and insecurity in all the zones of the country. That even the Sultan of Sokoto endorsed this statement has given some potency to the incessant clamour of Nigerians, this time of northern extraction.
Indeed, these calls are justified though ominous and their frequency very timely. The fact of their consistency and frequency is a telling sign of imminent anarchy. It now seems as if people can no longer trust the government for the security of lives and property and consequently an ugly political culture of death mongering is emerging.
As this newspaper warned last year when banditry began to overwhelm the north-west, especially the president’s home state of Katsina: “A political culture that builds its success around the monopoly of industrialized thuggery and harvest of violence and deaths is the greatest threat to national security.”
Since the inception of the Buhari administration, which built its existence and relevance on effecting change and combating insecurity, the Federal Government has been expending huge budgets on defence and security but with virtually nothing to show. On the watch of this administration, with its present security chiefs, there had been in northern Nigeria a westward movement of well-orchestrated violence from religious terrorism, through kidnapping to greed-driven banditry – all of which make a mockery of the rhetoric of success of the Nigerian military.
This is beside the country-wide menace of internal insecurity characterised by the activities of killer herdsmen, callous violation of women and the girl-child, and ritual murders. True, the routineness of tragedy occasioned by the spate of insecurity does not correspond with the modest effort of the security forces. Therefore, wouldn’t Professor Ango Abdullahi, the convener of the Northern Elders Forum, be right again, as he probably was, when, at a press conference last year, described the situation as a “cataclysmic collapse of security” and “sanguinary” … “colossal threat to life and property”?
All this raises further questions: How many calls will make the president sack the underperforming and overfed service chiefs whose tenure had expired before the end of the first term of office? Must the president wait for the country to be overtaken by bandits before the service chiefs are removed? Is there any unforeseen personal interest in keeping the service chiefs? What is the ulterior motive for retaining the service chiefs when there is a near national consensus that they should go?
Why is it that the symbolic gesture of the Federal Government does not relay any urgency, or commitment, not even pretensions of doing anything emanating from sound thinking in order to address insecurity? Is it the case that there is a manifest and deliberate lack of political will? Are Nigerians witnessing a moral deficit observed in leadership insincerity? Or is a case of lethargy bordering on obvious incapacitation?
The president’s action leaves much room for unnecessary speculations. Such speculations, which take advantage of his dangerous aloofness, his perceived insularity and incurable nepotism, interpret the president’s reluctance to sack the service chiefs as a deliberate act to ensure that only service chiefs of northern extraction take over from the present ones. Is it not curiously ironic that all the security and intelligence chiefs hail from this insecure north? It should be recalled that even leaders from the south have taken the Federal Government to court over this perennial imbalance. It should not surprise Nigerians when many well-meaning and informed people think this way, especially given widespread rumours of sacked military officers from the south. All these express a sad commentary about Nigeria and show a low vote of confidence in the leadership of this administration.
Whilst Nigerians may not know what goes on in the situation room of the security chiefs, experts and security watchers are unanimous on one fundamental factor in combating insecurity: Unity of purpose. The Guardian wishes to reiterate this as it did once by stating that “tackling insecurity demands a focused, united, vibrant and confidence-building military; one that collectively takes ownership of the war against terror without recourse to partisanship that could imperil the security of the country.”
Again, as military experts have counselled, advance in modern technologised warfare has created an unconventional martial strategy, which challenges old military methods of battling insecurity. This new challenge necessitates a re-orientation in the psychology of leadership in the army; one that calls for the establishment of pockets of junior leadership and piecemeal mobilisation of forces, both in the military and the police. This expert counsel, coupled with the desire of Nigerians for genuine change in the management of the country’s security system, requires genuine intentions for the country, as well as bold, just, decisive actions from the president and his men.