“Security is not the absence of danger, but the presence of God, no matter what the danger.” Anonymous
For President Muhammadu Buhari in particular, it was a hard decision to finally succumb to mounting pressure to relieve the former service chiefs of their controversial portfolios.
From all indications, the president wanted to retain them till the end of his tenure. For reasons best known to him however, Buhari had initially defied all calls for their removal as a result of lingering insecurity in the country that resulted into loss of many lives and properties.
Even though the former chiefs’ service duration had expired, yet Buhari continued to maintain them, an action that triggered the anger of many prominent Nigerians.
A censorious view of those persistent calls for their replacement suggested as if they had not done the needful and were reactionary elements. It was a campaign that sounded as if the former chiefs had not tendered their sacrifices to secure the nation.
Whenever an ugly scene of murder was reported, we began to put the blames on their overstay as service chiefs; we accused them of having contacted the poverty of ideas to execute the war against insecurity. However, attempts were not exerted to look into the complexity of insecurity.
While many of us were advocating for their heads, we often forgot that we denied them the justice of reminding ourselves that at one time, they were responsible for the recapturing of some local government areas in Borno State that were hitherto under the rule of the insurgents.
We lost contact with the fact that they had rescued thousands captives from the deadly terrorists. We mostly and emotionally dismissed the fact that they had laid down their lives to defeat insecurity and their agents.
How many times was the former Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai ambushed and attacked by the insurgents? Why were they hunting him if not because he had largely disfigured them?
What made the Sambisa forest to be a shadow of its former self? Have we forgotten that it was as a result of the intensive campaign against Boko Haram by the former service chiefs that some of the abducted Chibok girls were rescued? Have we obliterated that prior to the advent of the Buratais, the Nigerian forces could not carry the combat to the dens of the terrorists?
According to George Marshall: “The soldier’s heart, the soldier’s spirit, the soldier’s soul are everything.”
We ought to remind ourselves that the ex-service chiefs fought with their heart, with their spirit, with their soul because they were everything to the nation they served. Their selfless services are worth remembering and not dismantling for the sake of temporary disappointments. Alas! We are now at a point that we are confused, forgetting the heroism they put to secure the nation.
Emphasis can serve fittingly here to hit the point again. When many amongst us were chanting the sorrowful song of retiring the erstwhile service chiefs, we could not recall the marvelous performance that was firmly fixed to free the country of terrorists by them.
For instance, the former Chief of Army Staff, General Buratai established units that blazed the trail in conducting cutting-edge research, which resulted in the production of sophisticated military hardware items such as the Mine Resistant and Anti-Patrol Vehicles.
Not only that, he also injected modern equipment, platforms and hardwares in a bid to improve the overall operational responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency against the terrorists.
Also, let us not forget that during the reign of the disbanded service chiefs, the mobile brigade concept was introduced and executed, culminating in the successes in the counter-insurgency operations.
Of a particular interest, the Nigeria Army erected a counter cyberspace structure against terrorists’ propaganda. As at June 8, 2020, 1,429 Boko Haram insurgents were neutralised, with 166 of their associates arrested. General Buratai developed new tactics to counter Boko Haram’s asymmetric methods.
For the record, a psychologist, Dr. Obeweh wrote an article entitled: ‘Why Buratai’s strategy against terrorism is being studied abroad.’
It was published in the Vanguard of March 17, 2020. Its content vividly exposes Buratai’s doggedness and creativity in the battle against the insurgents that touched the hearts of even foreigners. Also to Buratai’s credit, he was conferred with the Brazilian Military Order of Merit Award, the highest military honour awarded to military officers that have distinguished themselves in various military endeavours.
These are just few instances of successes recorded in the last military regime against insecurity bedeviling the country.
While we await for the performance of the new service chiefs, let us not forget that we witnessed how the former service chiefs fared well and discovered where they went wrong. Of course, no human is perfect.
Are we suggesting to ourselves that with these new appointments, security is now rest assured? Are we narrating to ourselves that with the new service chiefs at the helm of affairs, our security will now be under our control? Meanwhile, here lie bigger challenges!
Challenge number one: The new service commanders will be psychologically tempted to surpass their predecessors.
In their frantic efforts to achieve that, they may end up trying to make the impossible to become possible. And this would amount to over confidence, over excitement, over actions.
In other words, the resultant effect may be disorderly military operations to retard progress.
Challenge number two: The terrorists, for the sake of whom this new development was put in place, would now be having a feeling of superiority complex.
They have already concluded that they are now a force to be reckoned with as a result of these new appointments. And now their verdict is telling the new chiefs that they are equal to the task.
It is also very likely that the terrorists will also make adjustments with regard to their commandants to match with the newly appointed military commanders. They will not relent in their satanic strives to breach public peace.
Challenge number three: If the wave of the insecurity persists, what will be the reaction of the mainstream society? Will it continue advocating for another set of new warriors to bring back security?
Challenge number four: When we are talking of insecurity in Nigeria, it is impliedly referred to the Northern Nigeria.
Get the point very clearly, it is the North that is actually not secured compared to the other regions. We in the North are not only unsecured, but also passing through the process of self destruction.
Unfortunately, many of us are deliberate blind to this protruding calamity.
Challenge number six: Can the different socio-cultural, religious and youth organisations in the North concede the reality that our major security problem has less to do with military solutions, but rather social factors militating our progress, breeding elements of insecurity?
Now, challenge number seven goes to the newly recruited service chiefs and it is a little bit an elaboration of challenge number three earlier highlighted.
They are aware of the motivating factor that led to their emergence. They succeeded their predecessors not because they were not performing, but owing to the reality that killings of innocent people had persisted.
As their replacements, what is meant here is that they are expected to perform miracles. Meaning, their outputs are expected not to be less than what had transpired during the previous military onslaught against terrorists.
Expectations are now very high from all angles. To interpret this in clearer terms, any disappointment from their own side will mean they will also be considered as unworthy for the battle and perhaps a new search for other service chiefs may likely be the concluding outcome.
And then are we going to be subjected to a vicious circle in dealing with our security challenges?
Whether we like it or not, our only way out of this insecurity predicament is to look beyond military operation as the only panacea for bringing back our security. With a particular reference to the North which is passing through self destruction, no amount of military operation can provide our desired security.
Forgive me if I am being pessimistic here! I just want to present a sobering argument and recruit you into my worldview of realism. Ours is a region that belongs to all sorts of dangers and we are not willing to make the presence of God our way out of our devastations.
The socio-economic and political heavyweights in our midst are unwilling to please the Almighty God to spread justice and fairness, peace and love to live in peace.
Attention, the National Assembly! You can’t bring back our security by merely advising the president to give the new service chiefs ultimatum within which to end insecurity. This unusual call is a security risk. Security conundrum is not similar and cheaper than bills deliberations. Do you still underrate the psychology of the terrorists that they portend to carry more attacks when they are threatened? Wars are not won through verbal statements that must specify timing.
Despite their heroic performance, the former service chiefs were blamed for the lingering insecurity without considering other factors militating against it, all eyes are now set on the new service chiefs.
Will they be cheered, or chided like their antecedents?
Abdullahi wrote in from Galadanci Quarters, Ringim, Jigawa State and can be reached through: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07036207998.