By Philip Agbese
Around the world, many people find it unacceptable the decisions political leaders take at their convenience. So, they kick and protest against it. It is more common in democracies around the world and Nigeria is no exemption. Here, the assertion of citizen-rights is penetrative, except that on any matter, hardly do one sight national coherence and objective. Everyone appears to approach national issues and problems from an ethnic, religious or political point of view.
Most times, the protests are not spurred by altruistic reasons. What ignites the resentments for decisions of leaders, tagged “unpopular” by these elements is basically because some personal interests are injured somewhere and it instigates massive resistance, with an influenced clan of minions goaded into it. And they always seem louder.
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In Nigeria, the game is played very dangerously and most times unconscionably. The reigning singsong in the country now is the gospels about the resignation of Service Chiefs or their sack by President Muhammadu Buhari. No one cares to know why Mr. President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces have decided to retain the security chiefs beyond times some Nigerians consider abnormal.
It is not ironic that in Nigeria, the heads of the various arms of the Armed Forces are called “Service Chiefs in military terms. It is the general world order anywhere. These are patriots who have given out their lives in defence of the fatherland. So, their death in the line of duty does not attract whining from the citizens, but heroic songs.
The laws of Nigeria have vested the final authority on determining the fate of Service Chiefs in the hands of the Commander-in-Chief and in this case, President Buhari. These Service Chiefs value their lives no less than the rest of Nigerians to risk it in the battlefield every minute. They are human beings with lives, which can also be brutally terminated by terrorists, armed bandits and the rest. They have families too and cherish them infinitely.
On a lighter note and within the African context, a chief is someone who is like a King; who issues directives and wait for the results. His only most authentic role is supervision. And it trickles down the ladder. A chief sits in the comfort of his palace to reel out orders and directives to subordinates even in wartimes because his death or even injury at such times is symbolic of victory for the enemy.
Anytime, a chief deems it fit to adjust his team in war, he does with a few trusted members of the council of elders. He does not call out or seek the advice or opinions of the entire community, on whose throne he presides to teach him fresh wisdom, enact new philosophies and laws to navigate the path of their leadership.
Dedicated followership prefers to sink or swim with their king in hard or good times for reasons that if he succeeds and leads perfectly or fails, the history books are there to record the period of his reign. It’s sardonic that subjects should constitute themselves into a clan of differing cacophonic noises and very dictatorially in the case of President Buhari.
Lumped together, the wisdom, luxury and protective shield of a king is not something prone to the inquisitiveness of every subject. Even in the borrowed and modernized western concept of kings or chiefs modified as democracy, the laws permit some leverage to the king in leadership or the President to act or take certain independent decisions based on his discretion. So, it is very unlawful and unwise to stampede the President into decisions he has exclusive rights to determine in the guise of the liberties of democracy.
Unfortunately, this is not a reflection of what happens in Nigeria in the case of President Buhari and his Service Chiefs. Hence Nigeria practices democracy, a few disgruntled citizens think these appointees are dunces and are not capable of any thought of their own.
It pains infinitely that the present Service Chiefs are mere unlucky servants and victims of circumstances who bear the baggage and fallouts of societal failures to address its own varied social contracts with the citizenry. But the tantrums are hurled at them from all angles disparagingly by selfish elements. No one spares a minute to look at the sacrifices they have made for the country, including paying the supreme price.
And each time, one hears the utterances of some Nigerians, it is simple to discern the concealed voices of these unpatriotic citizens and sabs pushed by external forces to torment their own country and the leaders. Truly, these Nigeria’s serving Service Chiefs are very unfortunate in the hands of paid activists and political jobbers whom they have stopped from truncating our democracy!
The Service Chiefs should not be depressed because the overwhelming majority of Nigerians believe in their sacrifices to the nation. The greedy hunters for favourites in the Military to be anointed Chiefs in order to reverse the gains President Buhari has recorded against insurgencies and insurrections in the country under the Service Chiefs should proceed with the seemingly sponsored and senseless campaigns.
The anti-Service Chiefs campaigners and activists and sponsors of violence and killings, including their protegees in the National Assembly, are free to intensify their evangelism against the security chiefs. They are at liberty to contrive more devilish plots, cause greater degrees of destructions, killings and thereafter, embark on the familiar blame games of “Buhari is not doing anything on insecurities,” or “the Service Chiefs have overstayed in office,” and so forth.
And the excuses by these debased souls and their conspirators are in abundance. They spurn them anytime and play on national psyche gleefully. Therefore, when any government fails to pay salaries; does not engage youths in endeavours that support decent livelihood, but sustained violence and bloodshed, it is the fault of the President and he must sack the Service Chiefs or Nigeria will continue smouldering with flames of killings and bloodshed.
When these supposed political leaders fail to provide jobs for the teeming unemployed graduates and job seekers in their domains; corner every presidential poverty alleviation intervention package to themselves and families, thereby triggering anger, violently expressed in widespread killings, communal clashes, terrorism, armed banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and other assorted criminalities, it is the fault of Mr President and his Service Chiefs. Leaders with such mindsets and their acolytes hardly see whatever efforts our patriotic Service Chiefs are making in quelling the conflagrations they have ignited.
When politicians arm youths to rig elections and unable to retrieve these weapons and same are used for killings and destruction of properties then, Nigerians turn to the Service Chiefs. Those who secretly maintain a clan of armed youths as political thugs and ethnic militias et al, and these youths turn to uncontrollable crimes, it is the fault of the President and they gladly turn to the Service or Security Chiefs for succour.
More confounding, these are not isolated cases. State governors are left without any probe of what happens to the monthly security votes. Buhari is the first and last destination because he is the President of Nigeria. Agreed that the rate of insecurity in Nigeria is appalling, the evident presence of the Nigerian soldiers in at least 33 out of the 36 states of the federation, outside Abuja, means civil security alone has been overpowered.
The efforts of the castigated Service Chiefs are underestimated by those salvaged. If Nigerians wish, let them continue until the Military on special Internal Security (IS) assignments are also overwhelmed, while those who mastermind these abominable acts blame President Muhammadu Buhari and preach the rule of law.
What is Nigeria’s collective national defining agenda for peace and peaceful co-existence? There is none! So, when Nigerians fail to mediate over mutual differences in communities, ignore amicable settlement of minor disputes, display of unfriendly, yet potential crises, embolden armed youths into violence with stipends and it generates into Boko Haram terrorism or banditry, then it is time to turn to the Service Chiefs when it becomes an uncontrollably explosive in destructions.
The Service Chiefs are the problem according to the verdict of these few criminally minded Nigerians, when parliamentarians at all levels make legislations in breach of the constitution of Nigeria, and public interest; do not support peaceful co-existence and cause violence and killings, it’s the shortcoming of the Service Chiefs and so, they must quit. When state governors pocket federal allocations for salaries, pensions, capital projects, stifle development and exacerbate the anger in the land violently, it is the fault of the Service Chiefs.
Like President Buhari proclaimed recently, anytime Nigerians are ready, insecurities will cease in the country. In any case, he will continue to do his very best and the critics should also continue chasing shadows. The current state of insecurities in the country is the creation of some Nigerians, which the military didn’t handover political leadership in May 1999. These people have expanded their nest of powerful adherents and many of them are in leadership positions at lower rungs sponsoring and fueling the bloodshed.
These blinded persons under the delusion that orchestrating violence and killings all over the country would aggravate public push for the sack of Service Chiefs successfully for the appointment of minions which they can penetrate and manipulate to disrupt Nigeria’s democracy. It is a dreamy adventure.
Nigeria was a peaceful nation and the majority who believe in this country must come together to ensure a collective battle to bring violence to a standstill. Unless this is taken as a collective resolve and action, crucifying the Service Chiefs is not a panacea.
Agbese is a public affairs analyst based in the United Kingdom.