President Muhammadu Buhari has said that Nigeria is in a state of emergency and directed the newly appointed service chiefs to tackle insecurity across the country.
Buhari on Tuesday appointed new service chiefs: Major-General Leo Iraborthe as the Chief of Defence Staff; Major-General Ibrahim Attahiru as the Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo as the Chief of Naval Staff; and Air Vice-Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao as the Chief of Air Staff.
During his meeting with them at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Wednesday, Buhari told them that Nigerians expected a lot from them in the ongoing security operations across the country.
The service chiefs were led to the meeting by the Minister of Defence, retired Major-General Bashir Magashi.
President Buhari, in a statement released by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, charged the newly appointed service chiefs to be patriotic and serve the country well.
According to him, “We are in a state of emergency. Be patriotic; serve the country well as your loyalty is to the country.
“There’s nothing I can tell you about the service because you are in it. I was also in it and I will pray for you. I also assure you that whatever I can do as commander-in-chief will be done, so that the people will appreciate your efforts.
“You know the stage we were in 2015, you know the stage we are now, and the undertakings we made. We promised to secure the country, revive the economy and fight corruption. None has been easy but we have certainly made progress,” he said.
The president said the morale of officers and men of the armed forces was paramount and urged the new service chiefs to pursue it vigorously.
He promised better equipment and logistics for troops to face the daunting task of securing the country.
‘We’ll tackle insecurity’
While speaking to newsmen after the meeting, Gen. Irabor said they would not only work to bring security to lives and properties but also add value.
The CDS said: “We have just seen Mr President and we are mindful of the demands. We can only at this stage pledge our ultimate best to bring safety and security to lives and properties across the country.
“On behalf of the service chiefs, I am assuring the nation peace and security. We believe there will be value that will be added to the security disposition of the nation.”
‘Don’t expect dramatic change’
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) on Wednesday warned Nigerians not to expect too much or dramatic change of the country’s fortunes in the area of security challenges, saying the effective performance of the new service chiefs will be largely determined by the Commander-in-Chief.
It specifically said the active involvement and interest of President Buhari in defence and security will determine the success or failures of their conduct, records and performances.
The Director, Publicity and Advocacy of the forum, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja, warned the President to reduce his distance from defence and security matters, and hold service chiefs and senior commanders accountable for successes and failures.
‘Live up to expectation’
Baba-Ahmed, however, warned the new service chiefs not to dash the hope of Nigerians by living up to the expectations in tackling security challenges ravaging the country.
“In our current circumstances where the nation is being swamped by old and new security challenges, a change of leadership in our armed forces should be a signal that President Muhammadu Buhari accepts the need to effect major changes in his disposition to security issues and improvements in the nation’s capacities to deal with security and public safety.
“Nigerians will hope that these changes, even if belated, are intended as a response to the persistent demands for changes at leadership levels as part of the requirements to improve professionalism, morale and integrity of command structures of our armed forces.
“The Forum warns the nation not to be misled into thinking that these changes will dramatically change the nation’s fortunes in its fight against multiple security threats.
“The new service chiefs will be a lot more effective if they are inspired by a commander-in-chief who adopts and involve an active interest in their conduct, records and performances.
‘Hold service chiefs accountable’
“President Buhari must, therefore, reduce his distance from defence and security matters, and hold service chiefs and senior commanders accountable for successes and failures.
“The new service chiefs have been part of the military that has been severely challenged in the fight against a decade-old insurgency and many other threats. The only way they can retain the confidence of Nigerians is to substantially improve on the records of their predecessors.
“The Forum believes that priorities of the new service chiefs should include real improvements in professional standards and morale of fighting men and women as well as fighting corruption within the Armed Forces.
“They will be aware that our frustrations regarding access to vital weapons and criticisms from foreign and domestic monitors of the war are related to the manner our armed forces execute the war, and it will be important for them to lead a military, which will operate with higher standards of respect for rules of engagement,” he said.