- They have to go – Lawmakers insist
The Federal Government cannot sack the service chiefs now, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha said yesterday. This is coming despite outrage by Nigerians over the continuous stay of the security heads in office.
There have been calls from several quarters including members of the National Assembly that the Service
Chiefs be relieved of their appointments following the deteriorating security situation in the country.
Daily Trust reports that in the past few weeks, criminal activities, including insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and armed robbery have spiked across the nooks and crannies of the country.
But speaking to journalists yesterday in Abuja after a book launch titled: “CAN, Religion, Politics and Power in Nigeria” written by a former General Secretary of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Engr Samuel Salifu, the SGF criticized those mounting pressure on the government to sack the Service Chiefs, saying, “this is not the right time to sack heads of security agencies”.
Mustapha explained that there are processes to be followed if such a step must be taken, adding that Nigerians must be on the same page with government if the battle against insecurity challenges must be won.
“You don’t sack people like that. There are processes and I believe that, at the opportuned time, those processes will be followed. You don’t just wake up and say sack people, it doesn’t happen like that. We are in a very difficult time. We need everybody to be on board. We need synergy within intelligence community; within the military formations that will help fight this war.
“We are in a very difficult situation and when we begin to create cracks and divisions, who will be the beneficiaries? The adversaries are the ones that are going to exploit those deficiencies and further the cause of destabilising the nation.
“At this moment, what we need is for everybody to be on the same page, fight the battle of securing the nation for protecting lives and property and ensuring that every Nigerian has the opportunity to live a prosperous life. I think that should be our main focus,” he said.
The service chiefs: Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Defence Staff; Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff; Sadique Abubakar, Chief of Air Staff, and Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, Chief of Naval Staff, were appointed in July, 2015, for an initial period of two years shortly after President Buhari was sworn. They were later given additional two years in 2017, which expired in July 2019. That appointment is yet to be renewed officially.
Section 09. 08 of the revised Armed Forces of Nigeria Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service (HTACOS) states thus“An officer appointed to the substantive appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff will hold the appointment for a continuous period of two years. The appointment could be extended for another two years from the date of expiration of the initial two-year period.”
They must go-Reps insist
The spokesperson of House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, yesterday said they have not changed their position that the service chiefs should go.
About two weeks ago, members of the House of Representatives had called on the service chiefs to resign their positions.
The call formed part of the resolutions reached after the lawmakers had a debate on the nation’s security during plenary.
The House in the resolution said the service chiefs have not been able to address the security challenges plaguing the country since 2015 when they were appointed by the President.
Speaking yesterday, Kalu said no motion has been moved to withdraw the earlier one on the matter.
“Motions like this in every other parliamentary practice, is seen as recommendations and those recommendations are made through the interpretations of the people’s needs and analysis. Nigerians cried out that this security problem is huge and that something needs to be done about it. And to them, they believe, the only way out is to change the pilots, piloting the affairs of security.
“If we have a better solution, it is time for the executive to say, these are our proposals to make the place more secure. They have the right to do that because our resolutions are not binding on them. They are advisory.
“We are not crying because we have nominees to become service chiefs. We are not crying because we just want to make noise. It is about the constituents desire to have a change in how things are being done. You don’t blame them. You don’t blame the constituents because people are dying everyday.
“I know the president is not happy about it, I know the executive is not happy about it, but they have to show Nigerians another alternative towards achieving these security needs in the country if it is not in changing the service chiefs. There may be a magic wand somewhere that they will wave and this problem will stop’’, he said.
However Daily Trust was unable to get a reaction from the Senate on the latest development as the spokesperson of the Red Chamber, Godiya Akwashiki, failed to respond to inquiries when contacted.
He did not pick calls put through to him, neither did he respond to the text message sent to him by our reporter.
However, it would be recalled that some senators had also last week called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the service chiefs and appoint new ones. They made the call while deliberating on a motion on national security challenges and the need to restructure the nation’s security architecture.
This, they said, was due to increasing rate of insecurity across the country. They cited resurgent attacks in the North-east and increased cases of killings and kidnappings across the country as part of the reasons, the service chiefs should be replaced.
Shortly after those calls, the president of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, met with President Buhari, but details of the meeting were not made known.
Experts fault FG’s position
A security expert, Dr Amaechi Nwaokolo, however said it is not true that sacking the service chiefs now would be detrimental to the fight against insecurity in the country.
He said, “Are they saying the people that are still in the military cannot carry on? It’s a political colouration, they are trying to politicise those positions (service chiefs).”
He added, “they have tried, but let us have new ideas, are they the only ones out of all the officers in the military that are familiar with the operations?”
However, another security expert, Kabir Adamu, said sacking security chiefs alone would not tackle the security challenges in the country.
He explained that the military is not the only government agency fighting insecurity in the country, adding that other agencies are involved.
He noted that the military alone cannot take the blame, even as he said they were not directly responsible for internal security.
Adamu however advocated for a review of the entire security architecture of the country, ‘‘looking at how the current system has failed to address the gaps’’.
FG taking Nigerians for granted – CSO
A Civil Society Organisation, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) berated the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha for saying that the service chiefs cannot be sacked now.
The CDD Director, Idayat Hassan, told Daily Trust that the ‘‘comment is insensitive’’.
According to her, saying that the service chiefs cannot be removed amounts to ‘‘taking Nigerians for granted and also showing complete disregard for the rule of law.
“If the death of numerous Nigerians in different parts of the country means nothing to the SGF, at least the law that is clear on when officials are to retire on attainment of mandatory 35 years in service or 65 years of age should matter.
It is an absolute disregard for law and morality to continue to keep the service chiefs and take Nigerians for granted.
“And Mr. Mustapha should also not forget that the strategy explored by the chiefs is clearly not working just as the non- retirement is breeding ill will in the military as their juniors are retiring ahead of them. The government must do the right thing,” she said.