On July 13, 2015, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in a sweeping shakeup of the nation’s security sector, approved the appointment of new service chiefs and a National Security Adviser.
The appointments were made less than two months after his inauguration, having formally taken over the mantle from ex- President Goodluck Jonathan on May 29, 2015.
The appointments of the new service chiefs were contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina. The Presidency explained then that the move was part of the regime’s strategies to crush the Boko Haram insurgency.
The new appointees, according to Adesina’s statement, were Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Abayomi Olonishakin; Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal Sadique Abubakar; and Chief of Defence Intelligence, Air Vice Marshal Monday Riku Morgan.
They replaced former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh; former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah; former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin; and former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu. Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.) was named the NSA to replace Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).
Expectedly, the appointments were greeted with mixed feelings. While some held the belief that the President acted in a hurry, some others agreed that the sack of the former service chiefs was long overdue and that it was the right thing any new Commander-in-Chief should do.
More than four years after the appointments however, stakeholders appear to be on the same page on the need for the President to inject fresh blood into the nation’s security architecture by allowing these service chiefs, most of whom have long been due for retirement, to take their deserved rest and appoint new service chiefs that will lead the nation to overcome the security challenges.
That the nation is under siege is not in doubt. From kidnapping and killings to insurgency and banditry, Nigeria is far from being a nation at peace. The President himself cannot pretend not to be aware of happenings around the country. He is also aware of the huge responsibilities placed on him and his exalted office to address the issue; after all, he was quoted to have said on Tuesday that “One of the responsibilities of government is to provide security. If we don’t secure the country, we will not be able to manage the economy properly.”
Buhari spoke on the same day members of the two chambers of the National Assembly, on their resumption from their five-week recess, reviewed the state of the nation and declared that insecurity had reached an alarming level. The House of Representatives took a bold step further on Wednesday when it passed a resolution calling on the service chiefs to either resign or be sacked by the President.
With that resolution, it appears only Buhari knows the reason(s) these service chiefs will remain in office and continue to draw salaries from the treasury being funded by taxpayers that they have so far displayed inability to protect.
It is almost certain that these men will never resign as demanded by the House of Representatives. That is a culture that is strange to Nigeria. But will the President now yield to the many calls on him to stop doing the same thing the same way and be expecting a different result? Will he continue to administer same drug for an ailment despite that there is no visible improvement? Beyond mere mouthing the call, is there anything the House of Representatives, and by extension the National Assembly, can do to make Buhari see reasons and sack the service chiefs? Only time will tell.