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Sack Service Chiefs Now or Risk Famine – CNPP, CSOs Tell Buhari

Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) and a Coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) have called for immediate removal of service Chiefs by President Muhammadu Buhari, insisting that their continued stay in office is damping the morale of officers and men of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The CNPP and the CSOs at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday maintained that though President Muhammadu Buhari has chosen to keep the service Chiefs till 2023 when he will be leaving office, the citizens should prepare for the worst as famine would kill more Nigerians than Boko Haram, herdsman and bandits have done from 2002 till date.

Chief Willy Ezugwu

Reading the text of the joint media briefing, the Secretary General of CNPP, Chief Willy Ezugwu re-echoed the belief expressed by many Nigerians and groups that the appointment new service Chiefs will inject fresh ideas and strategy to win the war against insurgency.

“We are not here to play politics with the security of the country but to draw attention to the most important aspect of our lives as a people.

“The importance of security anywhere in the world cannot be over emphasized. Nothing can be achieved, be it economically or in the education sector, without adequate security for the citizens.

“The Nigerian Constitution placed security as a priority, being the primary responsibility of government.

“The constitution expressly stated that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”.

“If an administration fails to provide security for the people, it has therefore failed in its primary assignment”, the groups said.

“Everywhere in Nigeria today, citizens are living in fear as a result of failure of the present administration to tackle security challenges. Nigerians can hardly travel for businesses, resulting in the current astronomical increase in prices of food stuff. And our farmers can no longer farm.

“The climax of the bad security situation was the reported gruesome killing of 43 farmers in Borno State, while other sources revealed that over 100 of those farmers were slaughtered in a state where soldiers have been deployed and federal government claimed victory over insurgency, declaring a technical defeat of the killers in the north”, they noted.

“The CNPP, like many other individuals and groups, including lawmakers, had called for sack of service chiefs, but it has become clear that President Muhammadu Buhari is bent on keeping them till 2023, when many of them were over due for retirement.

“Any wonder while there is low morale among the officers and men of the military? It has become very obvious to the officers and men of the Nigerian military that hard work does not pay, just as it has become clear to most of them that there is no room at the top of their career ladder.

“So long as this reality prevails, there will be no light at the end of the security tunnel. Based on the foregoing, the CNPP and civil society coalition is raising the alarm that the country’s security situation will continue to worsen if the service chiefs remained in office as their continued stay in office is dangerously damping the morale of officers and men of the Nigerian military. Northern Nigeria is endangered continuously despite the mouthed victory against insurgency.

“It is either President Buhari appoints new services chiefs now or we all live to regret here or in the hereafter as impending famine will kill more Nigerians than the insurgency has done since 2002 as herdsmen, bandits and Boko Haram insurgents have taken over farmlands in the north and other parts of the country.

“We are not unmindful of the planned show arranged by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for President Muhammadu Buhari to address a joint session of the National Assembly.

“The lawmakers have severally passed a resolution that the President should, as a matter of urgent national importance, do away with the present service chiefs but unfortunately, the President’s mind is made up on keeping them until he leaves office in 2023.

“So, we call on Nigerians to gear up for the worse, more than we have ever seen in the last five years, as the country’s economic woes will get worse due to insecurity which has kept our farmers out of the farms”, the said.

The full text of the press briefing by the CNPP and civil society organisations reads:

We are all witnesses to the unbridled wanton killings, kidnapping and other heinous crimes against humanity in parts of Nigeria, particularly in Northern and parts of the country in recent time.

We are specific about insecurity in the north because of the negative impact on food security in the country and the seeming conspiracy of silence by the northern ruling elites who, in face of obvious security challenges, are carry on as though nothing untoward is happening.

We are not here to play politics with the security of the country but to draw attention to the most important aspect of our lives as a people.

The importance of security anywhere in the world cannot be over emphasized. Nothing can be achieved, be it economically or in the education sector, without adequate security for the citizens.

The Nigerian Constitution placed security as a priority, being the primary responsibility of government.

The constitution expressly stated that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. If an administration fails to provide security for the people, it has therefore failed in its primary assignment.

That was why in response to worsening security situation, which became too bad, the Sultan of Sokoto described Northern Nigeria as the worst place to reside in the country.

The National Assembly, particularly the senate has cried out and demanded the immediate sack of the Nigerian service chiefs, while the frustrated House of Representatives on the other hand invited President Muhammadu Buhari to give explanations on the security situation.

Even as patronising as the invitation to the president is, it still underscores the mess in the country’s bad security situation.

Also, the Northern Elders Forum has called for improvement of Nigeria’s security architecture disclosing that “elsewhere in the north, many farming communities have not been allowed by bandits and kidnappers to plant crops.

“Those who did are being prevented from harvesting by criminals”, insisting that “under this administration, life has lost its value, and more and more citizens are coming under the influence of criminals.”

The Coalition of Northern Groups has also cried out against insecurity in the north, just like the Afenifere. These are just a few of the reactions by citizens against the aftermath of the unwillingness of President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the service chiefs and inject fresh ideas and strategy to win this war.

THE URGENT NEED FOR ACTION

Today, virtually all Nigerians see the security situation in the north as very troubling except President Buhari, the Chief of Army Staff and his colleagues.

It was reported few days ago in the media that no less than 1, 570 Nigerians were kidnapped between January and November this year, a period of 11 months in 366 reported cases. We all know that with the near total loss of confidence in the security system by citizens, more than double of the 366 cases would have been unreported.

Within the same period, kidnappers extorted not less than N311 million in ransoms from relatives of abducted citizens, excluding millions of naira paid by families who opted to keep quiet and solve their problem their own way without even involving security agencies.

Sadly, the media reported that 41 of the 366 cases of kidnapping took place in November this year alone. In the federal capital territory, 31 reported kidnap cases took place in 11 months.

Recall that like the Sultan rightly pointed out, most of the killings and attacks by Boko Haram and bandits are not reported. The true picture of the unrestrained killings in the North has not been reported by the media who cover up for the establishments.

Everywhere in Nigeria today, citizens are living in fear as a result of failure of the present administration to tackle security challenges. Nigerians can hardly travel for businesses, resulting in the current astronomical increase in prices of food stuff. And our farmers can no longer farm.

The climax of the bad security situation was the reported gruesome killing of 43 farmers in Borno State, while other sources revealed that over 100 of those farmers were slaughtered in a state where soldiers have been deployed and federal government claimed victory over insurgency, declaring a technical defeat of the killers in the north.

Unfortunately, a presidential spokesman openly told the world that Nigerians in the north were killed in their farms for failing to take permission from soldiers before going to their farmland. It is a shame.

Regretfully, while people were dying in the north, the Chief of Army Staff is busy with deploying troops against unarmed protesters demanding for good governance at the Lekki Toll Gate.

There is urgent need to save the security situation in the north and other parts of Nigeria.

CONCLUSION

The CNPP, like many other individuals and groups, including lawmakers, had called for sack of service chiefs, but it has become clear that President Muhammadu Buhari is bent on keeping them till 2023, when many of them were over due for retirement.

Any wonder while there is low morale among the officers and men of the military? It has become very obvious to the officers and men of the Nigerian military that hard work does not pay, just as it has become clear to most of them that there is no room at the top of their career ladder.

So long as this reality prevails, there will be no light at the end of the security tunnel. Based on the foregoing, the CNPP and civil society coalition is raising the alarm that the country’s security situation will continue to worsen if the service chiefs remained in office as their continued stay in office is dangerously damping the morale of officers and men of the Nigerian military. Northern Nigeria is endangered continuously despite the mouthed victory against insurgency.

It is either President Buhari appoints new services chiefs now or we all live to regret here or in the hereafter as impending famine will kill more Nigerians than the insurgency has done since 2002 as herdsmen, bandits and Boko Haram insurgents have taken over farmlands in the north and other parts of the country.

We are not unmindful of the planned show arranged by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for President Muhammadu Buhari to address a joint session of the National Assembly. The lawmakers have severally passed a resolution that the President should, as a matter of urgent national importance, do away with the present service chiefs but unfortunately, the President’s mind is made up on keeping them until he leaves office in 2023.

So, we call on Nigerians to gear up for the worse, more than we have ever seen in the last five years, as the country’s economic woes will get worse due to insecurity which has kept our farmers out of the farms.

Recall that the federal government continued to claim that Nigerian border closure was a tactical strategy to deal with insecurity in the country. But the longer the borders were closed the more Nigerians were killed and kidnapped without any meaningful challenge from the security forces as their morale is totally down due to incompetent leadership.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Chief Willy Ezugwu
For the CNPP and Coalition of Civil Society Organisations

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