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Buhari to service chiefs: We’re in a state of emergency

The President promised better equipment and logistics for troops to face the daunting task of securing the country.

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.

Akeredolu, Makinde, Ooni meet president

President Buhari also on Wednesday held separate meetings with Governors Seyi Makinde and Rotimi Akeredolu of Oyo and Ondo states, as well as the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja II over the security situation in the South West geo-political zone.

Makinde while fielding questions from State House reporters, said his meeting with the president provided an opportunity to present accurate information on the insecurity situation in his state.

Daily Trust reports that Oyo State had been in the news over the recent attacks on Fulani settlements and a threat of eviction by the notorious Yoruba youth leader, Sunday Igboho.

According to Makinde, “There has been a lot of fake news all around and I wanted to be sure that Mr President clearly have first -hand information from me, which I did. We also exchanged ideas on what we need to do better, some of the programmes we have put in place to ensure that this security issue is tackled. So, that is basically why I came here.”

Makinde, while speaking on the specific issues he discussed with the president, said: “One of the issues is that Oyo State landmass is quite big, Oyo State is close to 29,000 square kilometres. If you take all the states in the South East geo-political zone of Nigeria, they are still not as big as Oyo State. And the state right now only has two mobile police squadrons.

“So, I requested for more mobile police squadrons to be deployed to Oyo State and also ask for support for the joint security outfit because the underlying issue here also has to do with limited opportunities.

“The tension will definitely go down if a lot of our youths are gainfully employed. So, I briefed the president on what we are doing in that regard,” he said.

Igboho quit notice

The governor, while reacting to a question on his disagreement with Igboho on the ultimatum for Fulani to leave Oyo State said: “We have a history of living together peacefully amongst all the ethnic groups that are present in Oyo State.

“For instance, what triggered all of these was that Dr Aborede was brutally murdered, that is criminal, but on the other hand, Seriki, Alhaji Kabir has been staying in that same place for 40 years.

“So, quite frankly, the people we are after are criminals. They are the bandits, hoodlums, armed robbers, kidnappers. Those are the true enemy of the state and those are the people we will go after,” he said.

However, Governor Akeredolu refused to speak to journalists before heading to meet with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who had earlier hosted Makinde.

The Ooni of Ife, who said he visited the president to underscore the need to avoid the politicisation of insecurity in the country, stated that politics should be separated from insecurity in order not to jeopardise the lives of citizens.

“The take-home here is the president has assured that it is not going to be a political thing because we all know the problem all over the country, we have a lot of bad eggs that mix across the entire country and we are having that issue again in the South West.”

Ondo herdsmen registration

The registration of herdsmen in the Ondo State forest reserves will begin on Thursday. A top source at the state ministry of agriculture told Daily Trust on Wednesday that the framework was being worked out and it was expected to involve officials of the ministry, the police, civil defence corps and Amotekun operatives.

Chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in the state, Alhaji Bello Garba, also told Daily Trust that their men were ready to cooperate with the state government to have a hitch free registration.

“The registration will start today,” he said, adding that other agreements during their meeting with the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) on Monday would be respected.

NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, had reiterated that there was no eviction order for the Fulani in the South West, but reiterated the need to rid the region of criminal elements.

The governors and other stakeholders had supported the move by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to carry out registration of herders so as to keep track of their movements and make tracking of criminals easy.

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