Sunday, 26 July 2020

Why Military Chiefs May Have To Go ...Retired Generals

A retired Brigadier General and former Provost Marshal of the Nigerian Army, Brig Gen Don Ikpomwen (retd.), said if the security situation in the country had not improved, nobody should criticise the National Assembly for asking the service chiefs to go.

The general, who is also a lawyer, said, “With the controversy going on now, because we cannot address this issue in a vacuum, the Senate has for the umpteenth time said the President should send the service chiefs away for reasons that the security situation in Nigeria has not improved since they have been there for about five years. It is left for you and Nigerians to decide whether that position is true or not.

“If it is true that the security situation has not improved, and if the military structure is one where the top should give way for the bottom to grow, and if it is true also that the laws and regulations of public service in this country remain that 60 years of age or 35 years in service – whichever comes first – is the rule, then we cannot justify anything beyond this rule.

“If that be the case, I am very worried that anybody will disagree with what the Senate is saying about asking the service chiefs to go. I have many reasons for this; one of them is that the National Assembly is responsible for even regulating the powers of the President with regard to his operational use of the military and appointments.

“The National Assembly has a serious stake in it. I don’t see any justification in any argument saying that the National Assembly has no business with the appointments, deployments and removal of the topmost heads of the military. You cannot remove it from the National Assembly.

“I have no personal problem with any of the service chiefs. In fact, the Chief of the Army Staff is my personal friend; I respect him and he respects me. But we are talking about the lives of our people and safety of property in this country. We must take a serious look at the issue of absolute power in this respect.”

Another retired Brigadier-General, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “If the National Assembly in its wisdom has said the service chiefs have not managed the security situation well and the President said recently that the service chiefs did well but their best was not good enough, you would definitely be inclined to agree that the National Assembly is right.

“If the President said the best of the service chiefs was not good enough, one expected that something would follow. That kind of statement is not supposed to be said in a vacuum and abandoned there. It has serious implications and the issue of sit-tight service chiefs in the armed forces has very serious morale effects on troops and officers.

“Everyone joins the service to be able to grow and if you now clog the system for five, six, maybe 10 years. That is very serious for the system.”

The Special Adviser on Security to the Bauchi State Governor, Brigadier General Marcus Yake (retd.), also said the President had powers under the constitution to appoint whoever he feels as a service chief.

He said, “However, no matter the situation, at that level of command, those people (service chiefs) should not stay for that long in office. What have they done that they want to stay in office and finish? What good have they done that other people cannot do?”

Yake, who said the President might have his reasons for keeping them, added, “But for me, they (Service Chiefs) are long overdue in those offices they occupy.

He stated further, “Two years is very okay to make whatever impact and then you go. You set policies right, pursue them and that is okay but when you stay for such a long time, it gives room for so many things. Military has seniority; their overstaying has blocked the chances of so many people that should have been service chiefs in this country.”

“Normally, it is supposed to be a place where you go, do your bit, you leave and another person comes in and do their part.”

Yake said the most unfortunate thing was the clamour for them to go but that the President was not saying anything, which he said, could give room for doubts and suspicion.

Also, a retired general, Major General Obi Umahi, voiced his support for the call by the Senate that the current service chiefs should be changed.

Umahi said, “Usually in crisis situation, commanders are not allowed to stay so long in a theatre of operation because they are likely to loss initiatives. So, based on that and based on the fact that the security situation in Nigeria is worsening by the day; it is better to appoint new service chiefs who will come on board with fresh ideas and zeal to deal with the security situation.

“The longer these ones stay the further they get away from salutary advice from subordinates because the seniority gap between them and those who are in service will keep widening.”

He, however, described as unimaginable the exclusion of an Igbo in the national security architecture.

Source :Punch

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