ABUJA - President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, reprimanded his service chiefs over their failure to curb worsening insecurity in the nation.
In an unprecedented display of his disapproval of the situation, the President reportedly told the top military officers their best was not good enough.
Nigerians who had long called for their sack however might be disappointed, as the outcome of the meeting indicates the president would still be relying on the same men to reverse the security nightmare.
Asked whether Nigerians should expect a replacement of the chiefs, National Security Adviser (NSA) Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd) told State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting: “These are issues that only the President can address. I’m just an adviser. It’s up to Mr. President. He has the prerogative to make any change at whatever time he deems fit. Remember, he is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and he is the one, ultimately, who will take this kind of executive decision.”
Monguno, who disclosed that the service chiefs were at the Presidential Villa to brief Buhari on how the security challenge were being tackled, said: “Mr. President expressed great concern over the declining security situation in the country. He is extremely unhappy about what is happening. He feels that even though the security agencies are doing their best, their best is not good enough for him and he wants an immediate reversal of the current trend and immediate reversal of our misfortunes in all their dimensions.
“Mr. President also told us clearly, in no uncertain terms, that he and indeed the administration campaigned to power on the platform of three issues – fighting insecurity, overcoming our economic difficulties and dealing with the scourge of corruption. More so, he noted that it takes common sense for anyone to understand that without security, the pursuit of the other two will just be an exercise in futility.
“He, therefore, warned the security agencies to take into consideration the wider implication of the gradual descent of the security of the country. He is not going to accept any further escalation of the security situation.
“He also stated that no one was forced on him. He selected everyone, individually, based on what he feels his records had revealed, and therefore, it is up to individuals to live up to expectations.”
Monguno added: “Mr. President also said that it is extremely important that we in the security agencies ensure that we justify the leadership by not disappointing the populace. He pointed out the immediate areas of concern. These areas are interlinked and we must find a way out, especially the issue of the proliferation of drugs, small arms and light weapons.
“These two issues go hand in hand with the major issues of criminality in this country; be they banditry on one hand in the North West of Nigeria or terrorism in the North East.”
This was as the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) faulted the alleged arrest of persons who took to the streets to protest killings by bandits in Katsina, the home state of Buhari.
It said it was sad that “government would harass and detain victims of the bandits but chose to negotiate, hobnob with, and even pay money to the assailants.”
In a statement by National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said: “This arrest further raises demands for the APC and its governors, particularly those who openly confessed to have had contacts, negotiations and financial dealing with the bandits, to come clean on their alleged links with insurgents and marauders.
“Such actions by the APC administration, in addition to utterances of its leaders have continued to dishearten Nigerians while emboldening bandits and insurgents to continue to pillage our communities, hold towns to ransom and visit all manner of violence on vulnerable Nigerians in various parts of the country.”
The PDP counseled President Muhammadu Buhari to go beyond endless meetings within the comfort of the Aso Presidential villa and, for once, lead from the front in this fight against insurgency and banditry in our country.
Similarly, a pro-democracy and rights group, Concerned Nigerians, yesterday called on the police to release the chairman of the board of trustees of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), Mr. Nastura Sharif, accused of leading the Katsina protest.
“We are greatly worried that the President is arresting critics of his sheer incompetence in the handling of security situations in the North instead of the bandits killing Nigerians. The President should arrest the bandits and not patriotic citizens speaking up against the gross incompetence of the government. A government that negotiates and begs bandits cannot be arresting critics,” the group said in a statement by its convener, Deji Adeyanju.
“All the energy being expended by the police in arresting Mr. Nastura Sherif and other concerned Nigerians who protested on Tuesday in Katsina should be channeled into taming the monstrous bandits terrorising the people of Katsina and other parts of the North,’ the group added.
Also, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) called for the unconditional release of persons arrested over the protest, stressing that the country’s constitution grants citizens freedoms of association, expression and movement.
Reports last night said Sharif might have been set free.
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