President Goodluck Jonathan Wednesday decorated the service chiefs with their new ranks and directed them to strive to end the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east.
The service chiefs and their new ranks are Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Kenneth Tobia Minimah; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu.
Jonathan, at the decoration of the service chiefs stressed the urgency of bringing the anti-terror war to a quick end, adding: “None of us will sleep till Nigerians in Borno State can sleep.”
“Whenever I am decorating military officers I commend their wives because it is not easy to be barrack-based and then rise to this height. But (as for) the service chiefs, I don’t know whether I will congratulate you or I will sympathise with you because of the circumstances of the moment.
“That reminds me, when I was in secondary school, I read one article written by the late Dr. Tai Solarin, and there is one clause he said ‘I wish you what I wish myself every year. May we have enough of time this year’. So, I think I will wish you what I wish myself every year and may we have enough time this period. Because none of us will sleep till Nigerians in Borno State can sleep.
“That is why I say today is not a moment for major statements. We will be having very fine talks from time to time, but definitely Nigerians will tell you what they expect from us; we must not fail this country and I believe this team will work together to be assisted by other intelligence services because the war against terror must be won in this country,” Jonathan said.
He congratulated the service chiefs and their wives, noting that he had worked with some of them in one way or the other, and convinced that the right team to salvage the country at this time was selected.
He urged the service chiefs not to disappoint Nigerians.
Responding on behalf of others, Badeh thanked Jonathan for their appointment and promised that they would discharge their duties effectively.
He said the sending of their names to the National Assembly for confirmation, was a clear demonstration of Jonathan’s respect and adherence to the constitution.
According to him, the service chiefs will work harmoniously in the fight against terrorism, kidnapping and oil illegal bunkering in the country.
Badeh added that the military would continue to work hard in defending the nation’s territorial integrity, as well as ensuring security and peace in the country.
“Security challenges are inimical to development because security means development and without development there can also not be security. When a nation’s military is at war, the whole nation is at war, therefore every Nigerian must sacrifice,” the CDS said.
As part of renewed efforts to tackle Boko Haram insurgency, the Nigerian Army has come up with measures to boost its contingency.
The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division, Nigerian Army, Major General Obi Umahi, made this disclosure yesterday, at the inauguration of the 65 Battalion Alfa and Bravo Company Offices, sponsored by Lieutenant General TY Danjuma (rtd). The battalion is under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Haruna Dasuki.
Umahi said: “In the army, when we plan for operations or even when we take our threat analysis, we assume the worst case scenario in our plans and we plan from that point of strength.
“We come up with contingencies to deal with the worst situations and if the situation is lighter, it makes it easier for us in terms of executing it. So, we are prepared for any manner of scenario and we are dressing up for it.
“All these while, it was not as if we were naive but through the operations we have now, we believe that the situation is getting better, especially in the northern flank.”
The GOC said notwithstanding the upper hand by the military in the fight against Boko Haram, it would not relent in its efforts.
While admitting knowledge of the rumours making the rounds on recent plans by Boko Haram sect to attack military formations, he said the services were ready to counter such attacks.
While commending Danjuma, he said the transformation agenda in the army was not a talkshop but a programme backed by action, adding that anyone that has not imbibed the attitudinal change has not keyed into the agenda.
Dasuki later told journalists that Danjuma bought into the idea because the unit was not empowered financially to take up such a huge project.
Danjuma, who was represented by a former GOC, 81Division, Major General Abdul Tanko (rtd), called on Minimah to be focused and carry everybody along in order to succeed.
He said: “I know that the new COAS would do well having worked under me as a battalion commander. I urge him to be focused and ensure he carries everyone along. It is also imperative that he does not work in isolation because the Armed Forces work and cooperate with others in order to succeed.”
Meanwhile, Buhari has expressed sadness over the activities of soldiers fighting Boko Haram, saying many people have accused them of collecting bribe at checkpoints and raping women during operations.
But the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Major Gen. Garba Wahab, in distancing the army from the allegation, said the military and other security agencies needed support and not condemnation in their fight against insurgency in Nigeria.
Buhari, who spoke on the Hausa service of the Voice of America (VOA) monitored in Kaduna yesterday, said soldiers should return to the basics of military training by maintaining standards.
“Now, there are accusations that they collect bribe at checkpoints, that they rape women during operations as was the case in Borno State. That was not known before. Now, if you kill one of their own, they round up and wipe out the community like what happened at Baga,” Buhari said.
He recalled that during the administration of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, an airplane was sent to convey leaders of Niger Delta militants to Abuja, to talk and ensure peace in the region, adding: “Everybody knows that the Boko Haram leader was arrested and killed. We all know that in times of crisis , the police should do their work and it is only when such a crisis escalates that the military comes in and they don’t round up the people in the community and kill everybody.”
But Wahab, who spoke at a stakeholders’ meeting on security, appealed to prominent individuals in the society to support the military in its quest to fight insurgency, instead of criticising it.