As concerns over the rising level of insecurity in the country heighten, President Muhammadu Buhari has been advised to act fast in tackling the crisis.
Eminent Nigerians who gave the advice include the senator representing Borno South district, Ali Ndume and the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh. Ndume, who spoke on Sunday during a television programme monitored by The Guardian, said it was time for the president to address the security issues squarely and take definite actions.
To him, Nigeria is already in a state of war, and the nation’s security challenge has gone beyond the Boko Haram insurgency. The lawmaker, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, said: “Nigerians think it is only Borno State that is at war, and the armed forces, but that is not the case. Nigerians are supposed to know that we are in a state of war.
“If I were the president, I will call the service chiefs and tell them that they have heard and seen what is going on, that Nigerians are not happy because the situation is getting bad. I am giving you the last chance, what do you need and when are you going to get this business done?
“For instance, when the notorious armed robber, Anini, was terrorising the people in the old Bendel State and the inspector general of police was in a meeting with former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Babangida asked what he was doing at the meeting. He ordered the police boss to go and get Anini, and after two days or so, they got him.
“This is the kind of action I am expecting from President Buhari. He is in a better position. He is a military man, experienced, and he gets information from sources. He should be able to make up his mind and take a decision on this,” he said.
According to him, “This war is doable and can be achieved within the shortest possible time. When we went round Borno the other time, the theater commander told us that they needed helicopters and if they had helicopters they could finish that war in three months.”
On the calls for President Buhari to resign, Ndume said such a demand was uncalled for and shouldn’t come at the time the nation was facing so many challenges. “I don’t want the issues to be politicised. Even if you look at it politically, under which government did the terrorism or Boko Haram insurgency start? Was it not during the government of the Peoples Democratic Party? What happened to those who were in government when the insurgency started? What should we do to them? We have a problem at hand and they should also proffer solutions to it instead of lamenting and asking Buhari to resign.”
Okoh, who spoke with journalists yesterday in Abuja, lamented that the security situation in the country had worsened to the extent that Nigerians could no longer move around freely. “People are shaking because of the insecurity in the country. You cannot move freely, some people will come and kidnap you and begin to price you like an animal. Some of them are so heartless that they can kill, just slaughter somebody who has done no harm to anyone. The government should be concerned and take actions to put a stop to it.
What we should do is to solve our problem, we have enough resources to tackle this insecurity. I believe the Nigerian Army is capable of stopping this problem. The Nigeria Navy and the Air Force collaborative and concerted efforts can bring this insurgency and general insecurity problems to a stop. Something is somewhere happening and we don’t know.
“ I am not particularly interested in the United States business because when the Boko Haram issue started, they denied everything we told them and instead said it was economic marginalisation. So if they turn around now and begin to talk insecurity, it is too late”.
On the call on Buhari to rejig the security apparatus, Okoh said: “ I don’t think that is even the solution because if they resign, is it not the same people that will appoint the coming ones? Can you disobey the person that appointed you? So it is not about the service chiefs, if they resign and the system does not want to solve the problem, the problem will not be solved.”
Ndume and Okoh spoke as President Buhari, Senate President Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, held a meeting yesterday in the Presidential Villa, Abuja and resolved to facilitate the deployment of technology devices to minimise military casualties in the fight against insecurity in the country.
The closed door meeting was one of the series in the government’s moves to tackle the deteriorating security in the country.Addressing State House correspondents after the meeting, Lawan, however, declined to disclose what technology would be deployed. “We need to minimise the casualties of our armed forces and, therefore, we need to apply technology and become more efficient. I don’t want to divulge everything discussed about security. But I believe that the issue of technology is important.
“It is also critical because we are dealing with human beings. You are asking the military, the police to go and fight insurgents, kidnappers and bandits, you also need to do something for their welfare.“We believe that it is imperative that we are able to provide the necessary equipment and welfare for the armed forces and the police, to ensure that they are able to operate and perform efficiently and effectively.”Lawan was also not forthcoming and categorical on the calls for the sacking of the service chiefs over their inability to frontally address the deteriorating security in the land.
“The recent security challenges require that we work very closely. But in the interim, there is the need for us as a government to ensure that we provide a way out to tackle the security challenges. In the intermediate and the long term, we should be able to come up with some strategies, the roadmap to ensure that we secure the lives and property of Nigeria and Nigerians.”
Gbajabiamila acknowledged the concerns raised by Nigerians over the insecurity in the land.“Is the president as concerned as we are? Answer: probably more. Is the president looking to do something about it? Answer: yes. The question of security is uppermost in his mind and he opened up to us. You must understand that some communications are privileged, but suffice to say that the president is concerned and he intends to do something about our challenges.
“Opinions are divided; the generality of the opinion is that the service chiefs should go, that was evident in our debates in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, bus sometimes you don’t want a knee-jack reaction.
Many of us identify that something drastic has to be done, there’s also the school of thought that says that since we are talking about banditry, kidnapping and murders, what have the armed forces got to do with that, anywhere in the world?
“So, the question then arises that if he changes the service chiefs, does that address the issues of kidnapping and banditry? The army, navy and air force are outfits set up to tackle external aggression. It is the police that are set up for internal security, such as we are all witnessing.”
Gbajabiamila continued: “Has the inspector-general of police met up with his responsibilities? The question is if we now narrow it to the inspector general to police, many will argue that he has done a very good job and many will argue with you that he is hamstrung. There is very little he can do in the face of no equipment, no funding and we explained to Mr. President that we have to increase funding, we have to recruit more.
“Major progress was made in this discussion, which is a meeting that lasted over an hour and I believe Nigerians will begin to see traction, they’ll begin to see changes. You can be sure that concrete steps were taken in that direction.”