Muhammadu Buhari, his service chiefs and the security of Nigerians

By Rotimi Fasan
After a meeting between President Buhari Muhammadu and his self-appointed service chiefs last week, National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, reported that the President thought the best effort of his security chiefs to combat insecurity in the country is not good enough.
It would appear from this report that some bitter truths must have been shared between the president and the brass hats. In which case it would not be out of place to imagine that the meeting was less than friendly.
But looking at the casual posture Buhari has taken to security issues in this country since his election in 2015, the security chiefs’ meeting with him might have been friendlier than was reported.
Which is to say that the president’s reported reaction might pack more bark than bite. If footage of that meeting of the president and his military and police chief exists, I would not be surprised to see participants at the meeting grinning from ear to ear, which would not be a good indication that the president and his men had told one anther the required bitter truth about the near-total breakdown of the so-called security architecture of the country.
Does the country really possess a security architecture? What beast in today’s Nigeria goes by that name?
It is remarkable that Buhari would even acknowledge that the best effort of his security chiefs is not good enough. That is the farthest he would come to admitting that something might be wrong about the performance of these men. Otherwise, he has always had the back of his men. It has forever been hunky-dory between them.
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And where are we getting with this deliberately toned-down rebuke from Buhari? What does the president propose to do after his negligently belated admission of failure? Is he prepared to do what any result-oriented leader does to non-performing subordinates? I doubt very much if anything good can come out of the latest meeting between President Buhari and his flat-out tired, even fatigued security chiefs.
These men are desperate to go back home but President Buhari would not let them go for reasons best known to him. Now it seems there is no way he can sack the men without losing face. This may explain why he is doubling down on his mistakes by keeping the men in the office while straining to put a fine face on a terrible situation with his rambling euphemism about the security chiefs’ best not being good enough.
What’s wrong in simply saying they have all failed and thereafter follow the path of honor and responsibility: sacking the men?
Why should it take the deracination of the entire North, why should it require the sacking of Nigeria’s Northern states, turning the region into a veritable killing field, before Buhari wakes to the reality of the unacceptable state of insecurity in the country? Hundreds killed in just a month! Not even the president’s own home state is spared. Nigerians are randomly picked from their homes and marched into forest camps controlled by bandits who rape and maim them while rustling their cattle.
Otherwise, it is Boko Haram and their ISWAP cousins that are running amok, making a mockery of whatever pretenses our security forces offer in the name of security. Lives are daily lost in their hundreds while properties are either stolen or destroyed in plain sight of security agents and soldiers that have been rendered hors de combat.
The Generals grow fat on stolen wealth or war resources that have been converted to personal wealth, while soldiers are exposed to avoidable death. The case of General Hakeem Otiki who was recently dismissed for stealing hundreds of millions of naira appropriated to fight insurgency speaks to the criminalities being perpetrated by commanders-turned war profiteers.
That is not and cannot be an isolated case. It is the norm. This is why the so-called war against insurgency and banditry is never-ending and will never end for as long as the same tired minds remain at the helm of affairs.
What right has Buhari to question his service chiefs? Why should Nigerians even hold the non-performing chiefs responsible for what is happening? Good or bad, performing or not, the buck stops at the president’s table. It is mere shirking of responsibility for the president to say the best of these men’s effort is not good enough.
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That statement is actually a report on Buhari’s own performance as a leader even if he is the one issuing the report. Buhari it is that should be held responsible for the state of insecurity in the country today. In his own world, incompetence is amply rewarded. Against sound advice, he has insisted on keeping his service chiefs in office, even extended their tenure beyond retirement age when common sense demanded their dismissal.
Perhaps, he thought he was spiting Nigerians who demanded the sack of the chiefs who had overstayed their welcome both in the military and in their position as service chiefs. The disgrace now belongs to the president who has ended up cutting his own nose to spite his face.
The best Buhari has offered in response to the spate of killings across the country, either by so-called herdsmen, bandits or Boko Haram operatives, have been promises of better performance by the same tired and overstretched military that are to be seen performing law enforcement duties during traffic jams, at road checkpoints, on routine night patrol with police and civil defence operatives or chasing alike petty thieves and armed robbers on the highway. Never have the military been so demystified.
If what is happening in the North does not happen, we would not know where we are headed as a nation. Why are the Northern governors now bracing up to establish their own local militias or joint military and hunters’ security guilds? Are these not some of the same people bitterly opposed to any mention of state or community policing and would hear nothing of Amotekun in a federalized state?
Now they go about negotiating with bandits, offering hundreds of millions of naira as bribe money to appease the outraged army of delinquents and disregarded children that corrupt generations of politicians have raised by their criminal negligence.
What are the governors and the president doing to address issues at the foundation of the restiveness in the North? Issuing threats as Garuba Shehu just did to protesting Northern youths? These are the days of judgment when the erstwhile hunted has turned on the hunter. In the unfolding game of death, the falcon can no longer hear the falconer.
The rulers are giving up and lost for the appropriate response in a time of anarchy and amid a rampaging pandemic.
Vanguard
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