PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari says he takes responsibility for the perceived poor performance of Nigeria’s security chiefs, but, strangely, he allows them to continue in office in spite of their failings.
Buhari said this during an interview with Arise Television. He said he didn’t know the service chiefs personally before appointing them to office, but had done so based on their track records.
Explaining why he refused to relieve them of their duties, and even extended their stay in office beyond their respective retirement periods, Buhari said that the country is in the middle of an insurgency and one ought to be careful how one alters with the security hierarchy.
“My understanding of security is that, when you have a case of emergency, you have to be careful, with tampering with the head of services,” Buhari said.
“This is again one of my personal experiences. I have been a governor, I have been a minister, I have been a Head of State, I came back, I tried to come back to this office three times but lucky on the fourth time.
“I am measuring the options critically, when you have a case of emergency, if you don’t wait for an appropriate time to do it, then you create competition within the service.
“There are so many ambitious people waiting, only one man can be chief of army staff in the army, only one man can be the inspector-general of police. Don’t forget that it was this administration that appointed all the three (service chiefs).
“I didn’t know them on (a) personal basis, I followed records and thought I picked the best then, of course, their performance may be disappointing but I accept responsibility for not changing them. My reason is based on my own experience.”
All the current service chiefs in Nigeria, namely Abayomi Olonisakin, Chief of Defence Staff; Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff; Ibok Ete-Ibas, Chief of Naval Staff; and Sadique Abubakar, Chief of Air Staff, have had their tenures extended.
Similarly, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, was supposed to have left office on the 3rd of January having completed the mandatory 35 years of service, but he is still serving till date.
This is despite the worsening security situation across the country caused by the Boko Haram insurgency, herdsmen and farmers clashes, banditry and kidnappings, and other violent crimes.
On Monday, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State wept at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja, while addressing President Buhari on the security situation in his state.
One of the three cardinal policies of the Buhari administration is to improve security in Nigeria, but although he and his officials insist the country is safer than it was when they took over in 2015, available records show otherwise.
For instance, according to the Global Peace Index (GPI) 2018, Nigeria ranks 148 out of 163 countries in the World Peace ranking. In sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria ranks 40 out of 44 countries, making it one the least peaceful in 2018.
Also, the 2018 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) ranks Nigeria as the third most terrorised country in the world in 2018, behind only Iran and Afghanistan. This was the case as at 2015 when Buhari assumed power.
The two other major policies of the present administration are economic development and fight against corruption. On these, too, available statistics show there has not been a significant improvement from 2015.
Yet Buhari maintains that he remains the best man for the job come 2019.