By Prof Ahmed Danfulani
There has been a propagation of mischief in the polity with regards to the tenure of the Service Chiefs in the country where some individuals and organizations have arrogated to themselves the powers and responsibilities of dictating and assessing the stewardship of the current Service Chiefs in the country.
As a professor of law and former DG of NIPSS, I want to state that I have been involved with a strategic analysis on Nigeria’s efforts in the war against terrorism and other security threats in the country. I dare say that the bulk of the issues pushed in the public space are not in line with the realities on the ground. Those with little or no knowledge about security have joined in the fray and somewhat dictating to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces with regards to the tenure of the Service Chiefs in the country.
Yes, it can be argued that security is for all. However, it must be noted that it’s not everyone’s business because some undercurrents go with the terrain. However, in Nigeria, every tom, dick and harry seems to be professionals in the security sector, while in truth their involvements serve as a distraction as well as a nuisance in the scheme of things.
The recent calls for the sack of Service Chiefs provide us with a typical example of how some perceived social commentators have arrogated to themselves the discretion to articulate the tenures or the performances of the Service Chiefs in Nigeria.
The forgoing has indicated that some of us have elected not to appreciate the efforts of the present crop of Service Chiefs in the country. In my opinion, this is the height of insensitivity to their numerous sacrifices over the past five years, especially with regards to the fight against terrorism and other militant groups in Nigeria.
We must not forget that Nigeria was on the brink and the coming of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was indeed the game-changer till date. Nigerians must appreciate the display of strong political will in ensuring that the enemies of Nigeria were put to shame.
As I have stated in numerous forums that the past five years have indeed marked a milestone in the war against terrorism in Nigeria. I can’t but reiterate that in the annals of democratic dispensation in Nigeria, the present crop of Service Chiefs have indeed distinguished themselves and written their names in the sands of time. They were able to turn the tide in record time and the repositioning of the Armed Forces to meet the demands of asymmetric warfare was also outstanding.
Their exploits are replete with an unalloyed commitment to the preservation of the territorial integrity of Nigeria in ways too numerous to mention. But the activity of idle people whose stock in trade is always to throw stones in the wheels of our progress is thriving at the detriment of our unity and progress. This is sad and an indication that if care is not taken, we might wake up one day and realize that we do not have a country.
A situation where those with no knowledge of the intricacies of the security architecture in the country would elect to take the front seat on such a sensitive issue calls for caution. We must be reminded that acts of terrorism are not the same as domestic violence or street protest. There is a wide gap between both and this; the advocates of the sack of the Service Chiefs must come to terms with.
We must face the issue at hand, which is defeating terrorism and not a campaign of smear. This is what it is with regards to the tenures of the Service Chiefs in the country. I won’t say I am disappointed, but I would say that I am at a loss as to why some Nigerians would throw caution in the wind and elect to be on the side of ruining the country with half-truths and illogical conclusions.
Even those with no basic knowledge in National Security have assumed the roles of national security advisers and churning out statements that were conceived in their absolute ignorance and passing same to members of the unsuspecting general public. I am afraid that if this trend is not curtailed, there would be a time where the role of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces would be taken over by these merchants.
As incredible as this might sound, those clamouring for the sack of Service Chiefs are not any different from the famous Pastor that linked the coronavirus pandemic with the 5G network. This indeed was ridiculous until common sense prevailed and he retracted his statements. It is expected that common sense would also prevail.
The same goes for those that are busy occupying pages of the newspapers with stories and articles about the tenure of Service Chiefs and the likes. For one, they are not experts, and they do not understand the intricacies. As such, it is at best a very puerile attempt at the risk of insulting the sensibilities of Nigerians in general and some of us in the field of security studies.
Like I mentioned earlier, security is for all, but not everyone’s business, and so it must remain because it would be a slight on some us that have devoted a substantial number of years in security studies. When such nuisance by ignorant people is allowed to fester is an anomaly that must be discouraged in its entirety.
This group of persons should channel their energies towards charitable ventures if indeed they are that concerned about Nigeria. But for us in this field, we have interacted at the highest intellectual level and conducted researches on the efforts of the Armed Forces in the war against terrorism and our findings has remained consistent. So it is every form of slight for Nigerians to allow some form of propaganda to thrive at the detriment of national interest.
It is, therefore, my considered opinion that it is an abuse of public discourse for politicians and their stooges without the privilege of research and information to write and publish stories about the Service Chiefs in Nigeria. I am using this medium to offer free tutorials to those who want to study security as a body of knowledge so that that can stop taking Nigerians for granted.
The Service Chiefs must be left alone to concentrate on the task at hand as any form of distraction would be counter-productive at this stage. It must be stated that it remains the prerogative of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and not disgruntled politicians that are possibly not happy with the gains so far in North-East Nigeria and other parts of the country.
These crops of Service Chiefs are achievers in their rights, and they have done the country proud. The bulk of us in the security circles would readily attest to this. So, therefore, well-meaning Nigerians must join hands with them to defeat terrorism in the interest of the country. And those with no business with security should not lend their voice in this discourse; instead, they should channel their energies towards productive ventures.
Danfulani is former Director-General, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) and a Professor of Law & Strategic Studies, Defence & National Security Expert