From President Muhammadu Buhari came, on Friday, an agenda for the newly appointed service chiefs as the military officers wore their new ranks for the first time.
Buhari asked them to secure the country as early as possible, preferably before the rainy season sets in.
To realize this objective, Buhari said they should seek out the best officers and men within the forces “irrespective of seniority and paper qualifications, and work with them to secure this country.”
Buhari’s immediate predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, said yesterday that there is no way the President and the governors would be sleeping well with the level of insecurity in the country.
He said normalcy could be restored if all those saddled with the responsibility of securing lives and property work together.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) immediately effected a major shake-up in its hierarchy amidst allegations of serious lobbying by some officers for ‘juicy’ positions in the forces.
Buhari, speaking at the decoration of the service chiefs with their new ranks yesterday, said since he has already accepted responsibility for their actions on the field, it is now up to them to “go out into the field and secure the country.”
He said: “You have got a few weeks to do that because by the rainy season, we expect people to develop confidence and go back to the land so that we don’t get into trouble by being away from the field and therefore unable to produce enough food for the nation.”
He also went on Twitter, saying: “As I assured at our last security meeting, I have taken responsibility as C-in-C for them to go out into the fields and every part of the country to ensure peace and security. I have accepted responsibility for all actions taken in fulfillment of the mandate to secure Nigeria.”
Buhari, assisted by Vice President and wives of the service chiefs, later decorated the military officers with their new ranks.
Lucky Irabor, the Chief of Defence Staff, was promoted from Major-General to General, while the Chief of Army Staff, Ibrahim Attahiru, is now a Lieutenant-General. He was until now a Major-General.
The Chief of Naval Staff Awwal Zubairu was elevated from Rear Admiral to Vice Admiral while the Chief of Air Staff, Isiaka Oladayo Amao, moved from Air Vice-Marshal to Air Marshal.
In attendance at the ceremony were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha; Defence Minister Bashir Magashi and the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
Responding to questions from State House correspondents after the ceremony, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, ruled out the possibility of negotiating Nigeria’s peace and security with terrorists.
According to him, it is rather the armed forces that will determine the way peace and security are preserved in the country.
“We as members of the Armed Forces will never in any way demand peace and security of our nation in the hands of the terrorists. Rather, it is we that will determine the peace and not for us to live it in the hands of the terrorists,” he said.
Asked about the role the Nigerian military played in the recent negotiations that led to the release of the school children from their abductors, General Irabor said: “Peace and security is not just the security of the borders alone. It comes with having to build bridges across various divides.
He assured Nigerians that the country would soon start experiencing peace, saying that Nigerians cannot continue to live in fear.
Asked the next step for the military, he said: “Nigerians expect us to bring about peace and security in concert with other security agencies. That we will do. We can’t live in fear. And we will ensure that whatever brings fear to Nigerians before now will be a thing of the past.”
He declined to give details of what he called “the trump card” going forward, but he said he would not give an order to soldiers that he himself would not obey.
His words: “I will rather say what we will not do. What we will not do is to give instructions to our subordinates and not do the same. By extension, we will command the troops based on the expectations that we have of them and they will do it according to the expectations that we have of them too.”
He added: “Strategies are not sacrosanct. Of course, there are dynamics that we need to begin to look at, what needs to be reviewed, and that is precisely what we are doing currently. And we review various strategies and of course come up with new ones to be able to meet the demands of the current realities.”
On the expectation for the military to achieve concrete results in the next few weeks, the CDS said: “That is a matching order that Mr. President has given to us, and we will work assiduously to achieve that,” adding, “No doubt, the next 100 days are not as important as today.
“I believe that as members of the Armed Forces, working in concert with the rest of the security agencies, we will bring Mr. President’s expectations to bear in terms of our task. But let me also let you know that the inevitable is that Nigerians will indeed experience peace and security across the land.”