AKEEM NAFIU writes that lawyers have again called on President Muhammadu Buhari to promptly rejig the nation’s security architecture following growing level of insecurity already taking negative toll on the nation’s socio-economic and political development
Lawyers were again unanimous at the weekend reviewing the unending killings, upsurge in crimes and general security challenges bedeviling the country and concluded that nation was on the edge of balkanization except President Muhamadu Buhari immediately rejig the nation’s security architecture.
They said something urgent needed to be done to halt the worsening insecurity as it was already affecting the nation’s socio-economic and political developments negatively.
The lawyers spoke on the heels of the recent concerns raised by some elders from the North-East and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, over high level of insecurity in the country.
In a statement signed by its chairman, Zana Goni, the northern elite under the aegis of Coalition of North East Elders for Peace and Development (CNEEPD) called on President Muhammadu Buhari to relieve the service chiefs of their positions owing to the growing spate of insecurity in the country, especially in the Northeast region.
Specifically, they asked the president to as a matter of urgency, listen to Nigerians by implementing a recent resolution by the National Assembly asking him to rejig the country’s security design with a view to improving securitywhich they said had degenerated so badly.
The statement tagged ‘We are tired of excuses, sack service chiefs now’ reads: “We, the Coalition of North East Elders for Peace and Development, in the strongest terms, restate the call on President Muhammadu Buhari to honour the resolution of the National Assembly and positions of the majority of Nigerians to immediately remove the service chiefs and bring in new hands to effectively confront the security challenges staring us in our face as a nation.
“The worsening security situation in the country is further reinforcing the urgent need to inject new hands with fresh ideas to handle the nation’s security architecture. We have seen that the security situation under the current service chiefs has reached an unbearable state.
“The nation has been distressed by mindless killings of citizens and pillaging of defenceless communities by insurgents, bandits, and kidnappers. There is no denying the fact also that these have resulted in indescribable agony, anguish and torment to the Nigerian citizens.
“We have been silent with the hope that things would get better as promised regularly by the military leaders. But we have seen that in spite of the funding of the military by our dear President and the assurances by our service chiefs that things would change, nothing seems to be happening in that direction. This is regrettable.
“We are stating our position this day with deep and unbearable pains, given the lingering and unabated insecurity on our land. There is no doubt that 10 years down the line, the situation is worsening by the day. This is unacceptable, considering the efforts Mr. President has put in so far to arrest the situation. “It was obvious that service chiefs Buhari appointed to drive his vision on security had run out of ideas to end the war, and needed to be fired.
We would no longer sit on the fence and watch the situation, which had become a nightmare to Nigerians. “It is obvious that the current crops of service chiefs have overstayed and have run out of ideas to win the war against insurgents.
Mr. President must show them the way out, our ways of livelihood in the North East have been destroyed by insurgents and the poverty level in our zone now is so high. It is on these premises that we call on President Buhari to sack the service chiefs without further delay.”
They were echoed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who expressed fears that the growing level of insecurity was threatening the corporate existence of the country. The speaker bared his mind while speaking Thursday last week at a two-day retreat and workshop in Abuja.
The event organised by the House committee on national security and intelligence in collaboration with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) Foundation was aimed at promoting effective legislation and oversight of the security sector in Nigeria.
The speaker lamented that the rising insecurity had disrupted the lives of many Nigerians with attendant loss of lives and property at a scale that cannot easily be quantified. He noted that the security challenges have threatened the very existence of the Nigerian state because they undermine public faith in government’s ability to fulfill its fundamental obligation to protect the lives and property of citizens.
He said: “Across the three arms of government, we have a shared responsibility to take all necessary actions to meet these challenges head on. This is what the people who elected us rightly expect.
“National security is generally understood to be the preserve of the executive arm of government. As a result, the general public and even the political class often do not know what the legislative role in national security is or ought to be.
“This knowledge gap presents an ongoing limitation on the policy- making and oversight role of the legislature as it pertains specifically to the challenges we face in the national security sector. Workshops such as the one we have gathered here for today are an essential tool in reversing this gap.
“The realities of the moment require that we be willing to speak honest truths about the things we haven’t gotten right so that we can then focus our energies on making sure that we do better for the future. “I encourage all of you to remember that a lot of the hopes we have for our country depend on our ability to guarantee the safety of our people and the security of property and investments.
And from this remembrance, I hope we can find the motivation to do all that this moment requires of us. “Key followers of the House would notice that security has been a very important part of our work. It’s part of our legislative agenda. When I came in, I visited three key states affected by insecurity. I went to Katsina, Borno and Zamfara.
“We now have in our process the means of alternative funding for the security agencies. I think we should have the roles of each security agencies clearly defined. It’s important that we understand the separation.
There’s no way you can have a government that thrives without security. Anything else relies on security That’s why when this government came in, security was one of the legs.”
In his speech, the chairman of the House committee on national security and intelligence, Sha’aban Sharada, said he and others on the committee were committed to ensuring that all security agencies were provided with necessary support to pursue their goals.
He added that in its quest to tackle insecurity, the committee was currently working on a bill on proliferation of small and light arms.
Some senior lawyers have in the meantime been speaking on the growing spate of insecurity and its attendant consequence on the nation’s socio-economic and political development.
The lawyers while speaking on the issue at the weekend questioned the rationale behind the continued stay in office of security chiefs despite the deteriorating level of insecurity in the country. They asked the president to heed the mounting call for the sack of service chiefs to halt further drifting in the country’s socio-economic and political development.
In his comments, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome, said the growing insecurity has undoubtedly affected the nation’s socio-economic and political development negatively.
He said: “Every Nigerians and non-Nigerians resident in Nigeria, knows what the growing insecurity portends for the nation’s socio-economic and political development. May be perhaps, only the government and its operators do not know or appreciate it; or perhaps, may be they know it, but pretend, like the proverbial ostrich, not to know. But we all know that the blind sees it.
The deaf hears it. The dumb speaks it. The numb feels it. The news media, both orthodox and social, scream it on rooftops. “Insecurity knows no ethnicity, religion, language, status, education or gender. It is worse today under the present crop of service chiefs than it ever was in Nigeria.
The service chiefs have become so clueless and so compassless that no one needs a Nostradamus to know that things can only be worse under them, having obviously exhausted all security education, information, strategy and tactics they ever learnt.
“What I do not understand however, and which I want you journalists, the fourth estate of the realm, to help me ask President Muhammadu Buhari is this; what is so special and sacrosanct about these nonperforming security chiefs that they must be kept in office at all costs, many years after the constitutional and statutory expiration of their tenure by effluxion on time. It beats my imagination and challenges my intellect.
So, I do not know. Or, do you? Can anyone kindly oblige me an answer please; I beg Nigerians.” Dr. Fassy Yusuf also expressed deep concern at the worsening insecurity saying there can be no development in the economic or political life of any nation in a state of anomie. He added that the rising wave of insecurity portended failure on the part of Buhari’s administration.
“The insecurity in the country is an embarrassment to all, especially to President Buhari and his party. Never before have we witnessed this type of rudderlessness. “It is melancholic that President Muhammad Buhari as the Commander in-Chief has refused to act decisively despite being aware of the state of insecurity in the country. He refused, neglected and failed to listen to voices of reason.
“The essence of democracy is for our leaders to be guided by the voice of the people, after all, voce populi, vox Dei- the voice of the people is the voice of God. No economy, nay nation thrives in a state of anomie.
We need investments; local and foreign to cater for our needs, but these have been a mirage because of insecurity. “Nobody is indispensable, but our president is making us to believe that our service chiefs are indispensable. What a calamity. The nation is bleeding. The president should act now and save us from further debilitating effects of insecurity.
“Without security, no human activity can be successfully transacted. It is understandable therefore, that protest is rising over the spate of insecurity in the country especially in the North. Security is one of the three cardinal programmes of this administration and any unsatisfactory performance in this area is catastrophic. It portends failure on the part of the administration.
“The whole security architecture should be rejigged. All the service chiefs should be retired and fresh hands should be appointed with performance charter signed by them. Interagency cooperation should be encouraged and the military, the police, and other security agencies should work as a team and operate strategically. It is disgraceful that banditry and insurgence are overwhelming our security apparatus. It is time to change the tide,” he said.
A rights activist, Mr. Kabir Akingbolu, said the security chiefs should be changed immediately if the president meant well for the nation. He said: “To say the fact, the persistent refusal of the president to change or sack the service chiefs is a pointer to the fact that the government is not serious with its pretentious resolve to fight insecurity in the country.
This is so because the service chiefs seem to have run out of functional ideas to tackle the problem of insecurity in the country. “For crying out loud, how can any serious government hold on to these personnel without evaluating their performance with regards to the fight against insurgency? Every time what we hear is either high number of civilians or soldiers who had been killed but there are less casualties on the part of terrorists.
“As a result of this, the president’s failure to sack them portends danger for the nation’s fight against insurgency. This is because apart from the mantra that they have been technically defeated, there is no substantial achievement in this regard against the terrorists. “As it is, the best way is for the president to change them immediately without much ado.
There is need to eject new bloods in the system so that the whole security apparatus can be overhauled completely because I don’t think that the strategies being used have not been surmounted or rendered ineffective by the terrorists who appear to be more advanced than our security outfits put together. The president should heed the call of reasons and change them pronto in the interest of national security and overall interest of the citizens.”
To Mr. Wale Ogunade, the rising insecurity has robbed the nation of social, economic and political growth. He said: “Any country that is not secured cannot thrive socially, economically and politically. To that extent, it is in government’s interest to ensure that the country is totally secured.
At this juncture, I want to join the growing clamour for the removal of service chiefs. They have outlived their usefulness and they have no fresh ideas. The security architecture of the nation should be rejigged immediately and fresh hands brought on board to tackle the menace.”
The Coordinator, Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON), Lagos sub-region, Prince Okey-Joe Onuakalusi, said the insecurity being witnessed in nearly every community in Nigeria had become an existential threat and is taking its toll all aspect of the nation’s life. He said: “Security wise, Nigeria is the most insecure country in West Africa.
From three flanks, there is a siege against the Nigerian state – Boko Haram in the North-East, Bandits in parts of North-West and Herdsmen across the entire landscape. In all these, there is state’s complicity because of the pacifist approach the government has adopted so far in addressing it especially as concerns herdsmen violence.
“The insecurity being witnessed in nearly every community in Nigeria has become an existential threat. This dreadful sense of threat has become an eerie reality because of the over-centralisation of Nigeria’s security architecture.
The only way to effectively control crime in Nigeria is to create efficient and effective security system through national security reform or restructuring that reflects the need for operational command authority to be domiciled within the states.
“To save the country from inevitable collapse, we call on President Muhamadu Buhari, to immediately open a national dialogue in sincere attempt to decouple the rusting hinges that have held down the country in a purposeless existence. Its foundation must be reformed.
It is only a deliberate, sincere and inclusive national dialogue that will generate the vital force to restructure the country’s flabby foundation as well as its security system for effective protection of lives and property.”