Despite public outcry for replacement, Service Chiefs may remain till 2023


Report: Buhari may retain service chiefs till 2023 -


Despite public outcry for their replacement, the current service chiefs may remain in office till the expiration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure in May 2023.

The service chiefs, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS); Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff (COAS); Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, Chief of Air Staff (CAS), and Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, Chief of Naval Staff, are all overdue for retire¬ment.

They were appointed by President Buhari in 2015 upon assumption of office in May 2015. Under military regulations, their terms of service expired in 2017.

Despite calls for the removal by the National Assembly, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere, Northern Elders Forum (NEF), and other concerned Nigerians the president has continued to keep them.

Again, the Senate on Tuesday reiterated its position that President Buhari should, as a matter of urgency, remove the service chiefs and replace them with people with fresh ideas and solutions following the massacre of over 43 rice farmers in Borno State on Saturday.

They also asked the president to restructure and remodel the entire security architecture and investigate allegations of widespread corruption and leakages within the security architecture.

Speaking on the issue, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, described the clamour for the sack of service chiefs as “out of place”.

Shehu, who said this during an interview with Arise TV, noted that service chiefs were appointed and replaced at the pleasure of the president, adding that they would remain as long as Buhari deems fit.

“I am not aware that the tenure of service chiefs is subjected to any law or regulation that is clearly stated.

“They serve at the pleasure of the president and (if) the president is satisfied with their performance, he keeps them.

“The buck stops at his table — with due respect to the feelings of Nigerians.

 “The clamour for the sack is out of place considering that the president is not subject to the opinion of the opposition political party, which has clamored for this all the time.”

However, a presidency source who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said the president was not in a hurry to replace the service chiefs now.

He said though he was unhappy over the current security challenges in the country, the president had “implicit faith in the service chiefs and they may work with him till the end of his tenure in 2023”.

He added: “People are just blaming the service chiefs because they are just looking at the surface. Like Garba Shehu said, the buck stops on the table of the president.

“He appointed them and only he can explain why he is still retaining them despite the fact that he receives the blame for security challenges as the commander-in-chief.

“The fact is, the president knows what many of us don’t know. He has access to many privileged information, especially on security matters.

“The Minister of Information has said foreign nations have refused to sell vital weapons to us. How do you expect the service chiefs to prosecute the war without weapons?

“If the president sacks them and replaces them with new ones, which weapons will the new ones prosecute the war with?

“Maybe these are factors the president is considering which influence his decision not to replace them.

“But I can tell you that the president has no plans to replace them. He has implicit trust in them.”

 Also speaking with our correspondent, Col. Tony Nyiam (rtd), a prominent member of the defunct National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), said President Buhari had consistently breached the Armed Forces Act, and that he ought to have changed the current service chiefs long ago.

Nyiam, a delegate to the 2014 National Conference, also said he heard that the president’s fear in retaining the current service chiefs was because he didn’t want new people he was not familiar with.

He added that the continued stay of the current service chiefs was killing morale in the military as many promising officers with ideas were not allowed to rise to the zenith of their career.

He said: “It is very sad. Over two years now, I have been calling for the service chiefs to be replaced.

“If you have a service chief who is not performing, the usual thing is to change them.

“Also, by keeping them, the career of many officers is being ruined because if the service chiefs had left almost three years ago, they would have had three sets of chief of staff.

“So, they are depriving many officers of promotion and ability to rise to higher ranks in their profession.

“This is causing low morale in the army. What I also hear, which is sad, is that the president is afraid that if he changes them, he may find himself with new service chiefs he is not familiar with.

“All I can say is that it is very sad for us as a nation, especially with what has happened in Borno.

“In any country, the service chiefs, the army in particular, would have gone.

“The irony of it is that the chief of army staff is from that part of the country.

“The National Security Adviser is also from that area, yet their people are being killed. I would say it is shameless. The chief of army staff should have resigned.”

Meanwhile, Arewa Stakeholders Consultative Forum has said the incessant killings, attacks, and kidnappings in the North had adversely affected most inhabitants of the area.

Rising from an emergency meeting in Kaduna, the Arewa Stakeholders Consultative Forum, while reviewing the state of security in the North following the gruesome murder of 43 farmers, according to the Nigerian government figure, declared: “We say emphatically that enough is enough of these senseless killing of innocent and unarmed civilians in Borno State and across the northern part of Nigeria.

“The escalation of these killings almost on a daily basis, in our view, is a testimony that our troops stationed across the troubled areas are overwhelmed and the strategies currently in operation are not adequate.

“We categorically join millions of voices to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to, without further delay, relieve the nation’s service chiefs of their posts as they have exhausted all strategies within their capacity to stop the avoidable killing that has made millions homeless in their own country as they have failed to save Nigerians this tragically-embarrassing experiences that have continued to make us a laughing stock in the comity of nations with dire consequences for our image abroad.”

The group emphasised the urgent need not just for operational strategy of the troops in Borno State but also for a total overhauling of the nation’s security architecture.

“We advocate robust intelligence gathering as a component of the war against insecurity,” they said.

According to them, “We are convinced that for our troops to succeed in their assignment to bring back law and order in areas currently faced with challenges of insecurity, active collaboration with communities is key as we equally recognise the importance of inter-agencies collaboration. A word, they say, is enough for the wise.”  (Daily Independent)

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