By Professor Emmanuel Ome
A lot has been said about the security situation in Nigeria. Some have said the situation has worsened, some have also said the situation has improved.
While it’s normal for divergent views on the security situation in Nigeria, one thing stands sacrosanct. The security chiefs in Nigeria have performed creditably well.
There is a significant challenge that I have come to realize in this country. A situation where, for inexplicable reasons, hard work is not always appreciated. A situation where people throw all manners of spanners in the wheels of progress. Also, a situation where people cry wolf where non exist.
I want to use the tenure of the present security chiefs in Nigeria as an example. I recall in 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed the security chiefs, he did state that he never knew any one of them personally, but relied on the track record in their careers.
Most Nigerians didn’t believe it because it sounded strange and not the usual way of doing things in a country where one must have a godfather to be so appointed into a strategic or sensitive position of authority. But President Muhammadu Buhari changed the norm, and the nation was shocked.
But today he has proved that his judgment was not in error. Not in error in the sense that the security chiefs have lived up to expectations and defied all the odds to prove doubting Thomases wrong that there are people whose passion and commitment to the Nigerian cause is unflinching.
A critical analysis of the security situation of the country before 2015 and now gives us a vivid example of how hard the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Olonisakin and the various services chiefs have worked towards ensuring that the territorial sovereignty of Nigeria is preserved at all cost. Make no mistakes. The present chiefs came on-board when Nigeria was on the brinks. There was the Boko Haram threat; there was also the Indigenous People of Biafra threat, the Niger Delta Avengers as well as that of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and other clandestine forces within and many being fueled from outside just too numerous to mention.
That the Federal Capital Territory is now safe for all is a testament. That no local government in Nigeria is under the control of Boko Haram terrorist is also a testimony. If these are not noteworthy, I don’t know what else to call it.
We must be true to ourselves to know that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Yes, there might be pockets of security challenges here and there, but if we must admit, we have made substantial progress in ensuring that Nigeria is safe for all.
And this brings me to the call in recent times about the suitability of President Muhammadu Buhari continuing with the present security chiefs in his next tenure. This is quite an interesting topic that I would like to highlight on in this piece.
As a start, it is the prerogative of President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint those he feels he can work with. It is also the prerogative of the president to know those who have delivered in their national assignments.
I, therefore, ask, what will be the problem if the Security Chiefs also make the President’s second term list for another four years? What is the difference between civilian appointments and military appointments? What does the constitution say about appointments?
I stand to be corrected; it is only those with mischief that would want to impress on the president to change a winning team. But they forget that the president himself was once a member of the constituency and he knows what to expect from those handling the various services in the Armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
If we must admit, the past four years have witnessed the rebuilding of state institutions like the military that saw an unimaginable level of rot with the morale of its personnel at its lowest ebb. But can we say of that now? Your guess is as good as mine.
If only we could realize the efforts made towards ensuring that the military institution recovers from the rot it was entangled in by past administrations. This much can be seen in the substantial gains recorded since 2015. Those that have refused to be on the side of the truth probably are basking in the prism of their selfish interest. Just maybe, it has not been business as usual for them, and as such there must be a change in leadership so that they can take advantage of the heist that reigned supreme in previous administrations.
As a researcher, I can say that I know what has gone into making the military institution what it is today. I also know for a fact that the Nigerian military of today has experienced a transformation that has defied the odds. The odds that stated that Nigerian would disintegrate. The odds that posited that Boko Haram was going to overrun the country and establish caliphates. The odds that stated that the people of Zaria would not know peace under the threat of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. The odds that also predicted that the Niger Delta Avengers would cripple critical oil infrastructures and cripple the economy. But they were proved wrong.
All of these didn’t happen by magic. But for the efforts of a group of people who have strived day and night for Nigeria to stay united. These are no mean feat, and we must give kudos to those that have made significant contributions in service to the country — starting with Chief of Defence Staff and the service chiefs.
Aside sentiments, I have always identified with the paradigm that posits that “you don’t fix it when it is not broken” and not in a sector as sensitive as the security architecture in the country. I stand to be corrected, the bulk of Nigerians want the present crop of security chiefs to continue in office for as long as the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces so decide. Personally, changing the security chiefs now would do the country no good. This is not to say there are not others out there, but we must understand the peculiarities of our security challenges and why there is a need for consistency. But it remains the president’s prerogative, and no one should make no mistakes about that. If the president so decides, we must give him that support and understanding.
In a similar light, the Customs has also not done badly in terms of revenue generation. This is another area where the president’s choice of appointment has also proven to be effective. Under the present arrangement, the Nigerian Customs Service has witnessed tremendous growth in terms of revenue generation, and Nigeria is better for it.
We cannot deny these facts, and as such we should stop playing to the gallery on the efforts of the present administration towards ensuring that Nigeria is on the path to greatness through the quality of appointments in these critical sectors.
The Central Bank of Nigeria is undergoing the same kind of healing permissible by Mr. President’s wisdom. It is a historical fact that has settled in our polity today that Godwin Emefiele will be the first CBN Governor to be appointed back to back for a second term. This tells much about President Buhari building strong institutions for our country and never interested in playing politics with critical aspects of our national life. Those who mouth ethnic and religious sentiments in appointments went to bed at this point.
I can go on non-stop on this topic. But I would not because I firmly believe that Nigeria is on the path of greatness. And those with a contrary opinion should provide us with facts and figures and not sentiments. Like I stated earlier. This is a discourse.
Ome is a professor at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.