During the week, President Bola Tinubu met with the new service chiefs. Following their meeting, the service chiefs, as usual, dished out what they want Nigerians to expect from their appointments.
While some Nigerians think their promises are the same old stories, many others are busy debating on the quality of the appointees including whether it is appropriate for a retired policeman to be appointed as the National Security Adviser.
Well, to answer some of the questions, Col. Hassan Stan-labo, a security expert was on Arise Television, saying that the appointments were in order, noting that the “gentlemen picked are highly qualified in every perspective.” He stressed however that “What is left is for us to see how they bring the wealth of experience which they’ve garnered all along the years. Let’s see how they apply them to the security challenges we have. You know they are multifaceted; terrorism in the North East, North West and North Central; banditry; kidnappings and agitations for self-rule in the Southeast; in the South-South there’s oil theft which also involves some of those who are supposed to be custodians of our common patrimony.”
Reviewing the statistics on the level of security incidences, he said there seems to be a downward trend adding that “in May, we had 332 incidents compared to April when we had 382 incidents. So, we saw a 13.1 % downward trend in terms of incidents.”
Col. Stan-Labo noted that the situation on the ground is proof that Nigeria is at war whether we want to accept it or not, adding, “Mr President who is the Commander-in-Chief has picked fresh commanders to work. I want to believe that in doing this, he must avail them because things can never be like before. We must avail them of job descriptions, place timelines and we must begin to look at milestones along the line. And we must avail adequate resources to make sure they’re able to achieve all this.”
As a way forward, he suggested that government embarks on a national security sector reform. This according to him, “Will go a long way in addressing the gamut of challenges within the security problems; funding, manpower, logistics and equipment, training, operations, welfare motivation, border protection, intelligence surveillance, etc.
“The military also should put in place, appropriate monitoring and evaluation departments that are devoid of corrupt elements, which should be handled by the defence headquarters. Not the set of oversight we see because that role is actually the role of the National Assembly.
“I think we haven’t achieved much due to what I call corruption. We don’t want a situation where you allocate money to Defence for equipment to be bought and people go and bring in refurbished equipment; and those who I call monitoring and evaluation, have collected their own cuts.”
While harping on the importance of healthy synergy between the service chiefs he said, “all efforts must be done by this team to decrease the ability of non-state actors in challenging use of force by the state. They must make sure that is done because it’s really disturbing a lot of things. They must engage non-kinetic measures or approaches in addressing most of the problems. “These are measures aimed at the hearts and minds of the people. And the belligerents we are fighting had exploited this loophole in our approach all along because we stayed hooked on believing that the kinetic measure can do it. “These guys started providing for people, things government in the past couldn’t do; all things which money had been voted for in the past. So, the government must be smart.
“We shall dominate every forest within the land space of Nigeria, call it Sambisa forest or whatever. After 10 years of fighting terrorism, we are still shamelessly saying Boko Haram is in control of Sambisa forest. No, no, no, that is not acceptable. The Nigerian Armed Forces can do better.”
Still, on the issue of non-state actors guiding our strategic national assets, the security expert said, “its rather unfortunate that we have condescended to a point where we turn over to those we should be prosecuting to watch over our common patrimony. I feel so disappointed as a Nigerian, as an individual whose constituency should be responsible for taking care of such. Its only a clear indication that the system has failed us. And there is a need for us to go back to the drawing table and see what we can do about it.”
Col. Stan-Labo lamented further, how the monster known as corruption has destroyed Nigeria. “I don’t have a better word for corruption but I’ll say that corruption has permeated every aspect of Nigerian life; every department of our life such that you don’t know who to trust anymore.
“If you look at the oil theft thing, you feel highly embarrassed because this heavy/huge quantity of oil cannot be moved without very responsible people who we even voted to take care of our common patrimony, putting their signatures and approving it. There is no how you can convince me that it was not approved from above.
“And that is why I call shear trash and balderdash what Asari came on air accusing military of 99% of the actions ongoing to be responsible to the military. If you say that, what percentage would you say the presidency is responsible for? What percentage would you say the top shots in NNPC are responsible for? And what of the IOCs? etc. Just because you are pursuing your own contract the way Tompolo has gotten his and, because we are now playing host even in the Villa, to people we should have prosecuted long ago,…it is unfortunate. You are even sitting down to address the nation, who are you?”
“We must apply the right rules to get Nigeria going, if we don’t want to do it because we are aligning our pockets. We must fix Nigeria because we still have patriotic Nigerians only they’ve not had the chance to be in places to fix this country,” he added.
Citing the promises and declarations by the new service chiefs about what they have in store for Nigeria which according to Dr Abati are same old stories, Col Stan-Labo said, “the whole thing boils down to leadership question. With due respect, Nigeria in the last 8 years had no leadership. Its my impression as a voter and I wasted my vote.
The President, only within one month, has done what could not be achieved in four or five years. Is it that you had a hidden agenda which you were all along, trying to put in place while the country is busy working on a different agenda.
“I’m frustrated because we seem to have gone on as if we don’t have quality individuals that would have given us leadership in the past that we became sheep without shepherd.”
And to address the security situation in the south east, he declared that “One major priority area in the southeast which will cool off great deal of nerves, is to bring Kanu out. That gentleman, pull him out. Stop this incarceration.
“I know some of his pronouncements or maybe lines of his actions and so on were offensive to the Nigerian state, and there was need to take certain actions.
“But you see, Nigeria itself is a family; that’s my picture of Nigeria. When part of the family feel offended, as parents, as a father you sit the gentleman down or the child down and try to find out what the problems are.
“Can we start talking with Kanu? Can we start talking with IPOB? Can we start talking with other groups? I think a conversation with some of the groups will go a long way to addressing these issues.
“We must not apply the stick always, bring in the carrots sometimes, and let’s see the carrots and sticks diplomacy at play.
“I think we can do that, and if we do that, the situation in the southeast will be greatly doused.
“Frankly speaking, further incarceration will only make him more and more relevant, only heightens the heroship over him. He is a hero now, whether we accept it or not. And we made him the hero. We have made him a hero in the southeast. If he comes out now, he can contest the governorship election in any of the states. Nobody will even ask him if he’s from the state.”