By Gabriel Ewepu and Alice Ekpang – Abuja
Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Tuesday, tasked newly appointed Service Chiefs on an aggressive approach to end activities of criminal elements across the country, boost soldiers welfare, and give Nigerians peace.
CISLAC sets agenda for new Service Chiefs
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Auwal Rafsanjani, said, “Let me first commend the President for listening to voices of reason and has finally sacked the service chiefs.
“This is long overdue! Sadly, things have deteriorated to a level where kidnapping is no longer limited to the South but the entire country, and when kidnappers now abduct hundreds of school children from their school premises and making away with busloads of travelers in the country.
“As cross-border bandits are out killing in their dozens, food insecurity looms because farmers are either being killed or those displaced are afraid of returning to continue with their cherished vocation. Yet, there is no let-up in an armed robbery.
“This should be a point of entry for the new chiefs. Good enough, their credentials suggest that they are well experienced in tactical and strategy which is the immediate fresh breath that is required to engage going forward.
“The new service chiefs should be professional and not politicians in uniform. The situation where on every issue the army issue statement to condemn human rights groups and media for calling on the security agencies to respect human rights should not continue under this dispensation.
“They have reviewed the current strategy on terrorism and counter-insurgency, the de-radicalization without community victims healing is not productive. Secondly, they need to provide proper facilities and equipment to enable soldiers to effectively deal with the insurgents.
“Besides, Nigeria needs to take care of the welfare of her troops. Not only should they be paid all their entitlements while out there defending their fatherland, but they should also be well equipped to be able to repel the forces of terror.
“Issues that should lead to soldiers protesting or scampering away from battlefield should be avoided. If soldiers have overstayed their appointed time, they should be replaced with fresh blood to avoid fatigue setting in.
“The new regime should as a matter of urgency investigate the resignation of over 127 soldiers in recent weeks as well as non-payment of pension to veterans. By so doing, a standard template for transparency and accountability will be institutionalized.
“The rivalry between the different security organizations must stop. This dispensation must strike the rhythm for effective coordination, collaboration, and synergy as a diamond formation to victory.
“But, above all, to win the war against Boko Haram, the government has to win the war of the mind. Most of the people conscripted by the terrorists are brainwashed to believe they are fighting for God and would go straight to heaven if they die in the process.
“This is the most difficult aspect of the war to fight. Until the government and religious leaders are able to counter it effectively, only very little progress can be made in the war against terror. The new regime must therefore work very closely with stakeholders on the non-kinetic aspects.
“CISLAC has recently launched a Technical Working Group on Protection of Civilians and Civilian Harm Mitigation, it is a robust platform that can support new and ongoing efforts of the armed forces with strategic communications to the communities.
“While militancy, a major security threat in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, has receded remarkably, herdsmen killings have grown in scope and intensity. The first approach from the new chiefs will be to dwell more on intelligence-led response.
“This will save money, time, and casualties. A whole lot must go into building confidence and resilience from communities and partnership building. There is a huge disconnect between the people and its armed forces and this clearly suggests that information is not adequate and has a huge potential of drifting citizens into a deeper resentment with the security institutions.”
New Service Chiefs should immediately restore confidence, improve soldiers’ welfare — CDNDC
The Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, CDNDC, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said, “The appointment of new Service Chiefs is a welcome development and long overdue, and hopefully it will help to lift the morale of our soldiers, even though huge costs in human and resources have been incurred, while considerable damage has been done to the ranking and promotion system of officers and soldiers.
“I expect the new Chiefs to immediately restore confidence in the services and our soldiers, put their welfare first, strategize and go back to the drawing board, and come out with winning strategies against terrorists and bandits.
“If these service chiefs can eliminate the deepening nepotism and corruption in their systems and reposition their commands for efficiency, it will significantly help to reverse the protracted insecurity challenge facing the nation.”
No time to waste, hit the ground running — Global Rights
The Country Director, Global Rights Nigeria, Abiodun Baiyewu, said, “The President’s announcement of new service chiefs and the retirement of the out-gone crop is long overdue.
“Apart from the fact that they all were past their statutory age for retirement, they did not make the pass mark for efficiency. It is our sincere hope that the new service chiefs will hit the ground running.
“Nigeria has for the past decade been bedeviled by insecurity which has grown in scale and dimension. If the past year is anything to weigh the future by, we are in for a rough ride.
“The morale of our troops is also in need of a boost. We hope the new crop of leadership will be able to inspire hope and courage in them.
“The president needs to take further steps to put a stopgap against people who are benefiting from the economy of violence across the country. We need more than new people, we need institutions that work.
“And for institutions to work, you need a right blend of human and material resources. You also need leadership. I hope the president will himself as commander in the chief rise to his office. I’m just so glad that he has taken one positive step.”
Overhaul security architecture leads from the front — CN
The Convener, Concerned Nigerians, CN, Deji Adeyanju, said, “My expectations of the Service Chiefs will be to overhaul the security architecture all over the country and not fight banditry, the insurgency in the North East, but also to change tactics completely to what the former service chiefs have normalize payment of a ransom to bandits, forgiving repentant Boko Haram member, but the new service chiefs must go all out against criminal elements because if they continue this reintegration and to rehabilitate criminals more citizens will go into criminality and end criminality and other violent crimes, but their approach must be a complete turnaround, and they must lead by example and from the front and not seat at their comfort of defense houses and their cozy offices and issue out commands.
Start operations afresh, boost the morale of troops — HOMEF
The Director, Health For Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, Arc Nnimmo Bassey, said, “It is difficult to understand why it took so long to give the former service chiefs the boot. It was particularly shocking when a presidential spokesperson recently said that calls for their replacement were unnecessary because the chiefs were only accountable to their master.
“The question was, are they accountable only to the man that appointed them and not responsible for the security of Nigerians? That sort of thinking allowed the chiefs to sit tight while the security situation deteriorated.
“We expect them to commence their work from square one. There may be nothing to build on. They should reconfigure the entire security architecture and place great emphasis on boosting the morale of the troops as well as working to ensure their mental well-being.
“They have a big opportunity to reverse the dastard insecurity situation. They need new ideas. They should be careful about persons they integrate or reintegrate into the army. And they must respect the human rights of all citizens. These are some of the things that would indicate if they will still be dancing to the same old beat of propaganda in the midst of sorrows.”
We won’t expect much from the new Service Chiefs-GEJ Initiative
The National Coordinator, Grassroots Empowerment and Justice, GEJ Initiative, Comrade Ebriku John Friday, said, “It is the same formation, there won’t be any drastic difference. It is just a mere change of names and perhaps their faces.
“One would have expected that the President would have swapped the regions for the chief of army staff and others. We expect a southern as a Chief of army staff as well as Chief of air staff.
“So Nigerians should not expect anything different from what the former service chiefs have done so far.
“The President is still not seeing what Nigerians are seeing, the need for a deliberate change in the security architecture of the country. For me, the President has missed the point again.”
Tackle insecurity head-on — NECAN
The Secretary, Network for Electricity Consumers Advocacy of Nigeria, NECAN, Uket Obonga, said, “It is a welcome development of appointing new service chiefs, and let them rejig the security architecture. There is a military officer that can tackle insecurity in this country, and appoint people based on merit.
“We are looking forward to these new service chiefs and should tackle insecurity head-on, and they should first tackle banditry and Fulani militia going around killing and maiming Nigerians.”
We want new Service to sanitise operations, restore peace — Yiaga Africa
The Programme Manager, Elections, Yiaga Africa, Paul James, said, “The President has finally done the noble thing and has yielded to the numerous calls for the removal of services chiefs and injection of fresh ideas into the Nigerians security architecture.
“While the appointment of new service chiefs has long been overdue, the decision to appoint them will not come at a better time when virtually all sections of the Nation are experiencing one form of insecurity or the other.
“The new service chiefs have a huge responsibility to bring back sanity in the security sector. It is vital that the new service chiefs go back to the drawing board to identify where it all went wrong, restrategize and develop a better security framework to protect Nigerians and Nigerians.
“Nigerians are currently living in palpable fear due to the high level of insecurity across all regions of the country. The service chiefs have an opportunity to rekindle the hope in citizens with renewed zeal to protect Nigerians.
“For a sector that so much has been expended from public funds, it will not be too much to ask that they stay committed in the response to the primary responsibility of government, to protect the lives and properties of its citizens, that is one sure way to regain public trust and respect.”