Building Strong Institutions & Security Chiefs ~ By Idoko Ainoko
The second term of President Muhammadu is a month’s old by today. As usual, Nigerians are very anxious and expectant of the caliber of men and women Mr. President would recruit to assist his administration in the #NextLevel.
Ardent critics of the Buhari Presidency have been consistent that his first tenure which just expired failed to fully meet it’s targets. The experience was inevitable given the pressure politicians in Nigeria mount on any leader over appointments of surrogates into government.
And even granted the proven integrity of President Buhari, but it was impossible to completely resist such lobbyists based the peculiar scenario of politicking in the country. So, most of Buhari’s appointees were incompetent and disconnected from the vision of the administration.
And reenacting the criticisms of the First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari, most of those Buhari assembled in his cabinet were strange bedfellows and anti-change mantra agents. It was convincing argument that most of them still believed in the old order and never shared the President’s vision of Nigeria’s redemption.
These arguments and assessments on the President’s former cabinet are intrinsically plausible. But it is also unarguable that some of his cabinet members- from FEC to expanded appointees and heads of the over 500 federal MDAs performed creditably.
Recently, there were speculations in the media which tipped over 30 women as likely to make the list of President Buhari’s expanded cabinet in the second term. These names included notable women who served in various capacities and truly distinguished themselves on their schedules by assisting the President drive home his vision of regeneration and redemption of Nigeria.
And even in public domain, Nigerians can attests to their excellent performances in the areas they superintended. And the current, chorus, bargain and even persuasion of President Buhari to retain these respectable women on their portfolios streams from the track records of splendour on the job.
These virtuous women have contributed in building strong institutions, as against powerful elites/politicians as was the tradition yesterday. It is a mark of honor for them in striving to elevate the pride of their country before the comity of nations.
Elsewhere, there are also men who keyed and religiously adhered to President Buhari’s ‘Change mantra,’ and transformative agenda. They worked assiduously and devotedly in the service of their fatherland. They risked everything, including their precious personal lives to serve Nigeria and berthed succour to distressed or traumatized people around the country.
The crop of current Security Chiefs, led by the indefatigable Chief of Defence Staff ( CDS) Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin are also pictured in this illumination of men who have offered rewarding service to Nigeria. They gave their soul to it and ought to be considered for reappointment in Buhari’s second term.
Gen. Olonisakin has also marketed himself as an effective leader and courageous soldier whose performance is reflective in his building of the institutions of the different arms of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
The burden admiringly discharged by the CDS can only be properly decoded to understand that he came on board at a time the Armed Forces were fragmented and fractured within. The arduous task sank into oblivion many of his predecessors.
But he stood firm and tackled every obstacle on his path to success. The first snag was that the Nigerian Armed Forces were devoid of professional co-ordination and synergy it needed badly to tackle the multiple security challenges crumbling Nigeria.
Before Gen. Olonisakin emerged, Nigerians were compelled to bear the brunt of triumphant militants in the Niger Delta; victorious Boko Haram insurgents on forceful conquest of Nigeria; rampaging armed bandits in the Northwest; senseless chants of war in the Southeast by violent secessionists and the celebration of carnivals of bloodletting and arsons by ethnic warlords as well as the herders and farmers incessant upheavals.
But Gen. Olonisakin reviewed the ugly trend and declared it unacceptable. He introduced reforms and undertook sensitisation visits to military formations.It paid off handsomely, by restoring trust, mutuality, operational coherence and confidence among personnel of the Nigerian military.
Therefore, the songs of war have quietened in virtually every part of the country and Boko Haram is fruitlessly struggling to retake territories reclaimed by Nigerian troops. Terrorists have been severely decimated and Nigerian troops now mock their power to recklessly visit horrendous atrocious on Nigerians.
The United Nations ( UN) can declare states previously very insecured because of herders/ farmers carnages, including Benue state as safe; while armed bandits and militias are singing mournful lullabies of defeat. These milestones only trumpets loudly, the ingenuity of the CDS in dispensing his coordinative and supervisory responsibilities on the Nigerian military.
Gen. Olonisakin is completely loyal and patriotic to his country. He has inculcated same spirit in all military personnel. So, at the risk of flattery, it is pertinent to assert that Nigeria needs leaders with his mindset on the job to pair up with President Buhari, if Nigerians must continue to sustain the growth and development of the country.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and leader of the counter- insurgency operations in Nigeria Lt. Gen. TY Buratai typifies the teamwork in insecurity operations in the country, as preached and stamped by the CDS. This is glaring in the manner he leads troops, comprising soldiers from all arms of the military to victorious operations.
Indeed, during military operations, in any part of the country, there is usually smooth and effective cooperation among air, naval and ground troops. And the results of this understanding spurred by patriotism and elevation of national interest above personal considerations is responsible for the winning streaks Nigerian military have recorded against the country’s armed enemies.
Many Nigerians are aware that the present crop of Security Chiefs have extricated Nigeria from very dire threats to national security; attempts to pierce a knife on cord of national unity, and cohesion which would have ultimately led to the much hyped disintegration of the country.
It is relieving to know that 18 local government areas in the Northeast under Boko Haram capacity have been reclaimed by troops. And nearly 20,000 Nigerians held hostage by insurgents have been freed by Nigerian troops and reunited with their families.
Today in the Northeast, IDPs camps are no longer swelling with populations of people displaced by insurgency. Instead, IDPs have gradually deserted the camps to their ancestral communities and villages because of the aura of palpable security pervading the region.
Nigeria’s crude oil exploration and exportation have witnessed a steady climate in the last three years. Niger Delta militants have been tamed. And the respite is everywhere because the CDS, Gen. Olonisakin has provided the right leadership to the Nigerian military and the troops.
The armouries of all arms of the Military are replenished with weapons from time to time and simultaneously. And no one is in doubt that the CDS is not only focused, but knows the briefs of his job.
What is striking is the overt desire of President Buhari to sustain and consolidate efforts on areas the administration has been impactful in his first term.
He has been clear that the economy, security and fighting pervasive corruption in the system will be pursued with greater determination and vigour in his second coming. Even Buhari’s most staunchest of critics, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo have given him credit in these areas.
It is therefore, instructive that President Buhari would not be out of tone with reality by retaining this clan of hard working and committed Security Chiefs to complete the assignment of securing Nigeria. They stood firm for Nigeria in the worse moments.
It’s obvious these Security Chiefs can even perform much more better now that they are very conversant with the terrain and nuances of such operations.
In essence, there is every sense of wisdom for these Service Chiefs to also make the President’s second term list for another for years. It is necessary as he contemplates the re-engagement of professionals who have actively contributed to the success narrative of his first term.
There is really no difference between civilian and military appointments. And come to think of it dispassionately, it is the prerogative of the President to make appointments into offices be it civil or military in order to achieve his mandate and programmes he has outlined for himself and his government. He solely bears public backlash for success or failure of his administration.
So, it is unfair for anybody to blackmail him into discarding his best hands on the simplistic reason that they have overstayed in office. Or the excuse that a new tenure necessarily means total overhaul of appointments.
The Security Chiefs also worked in tandem with Mr. President’s vision who is equally interested in building and restoring back to Nigerians the institutions of state, as exemplified by the armed forces. They combined both anti- terrorism combats with development of the Nigerian Armed Forces into a virile and professional institution.
President Buhari had bemoaned from the outset of his administration the preponderance of strong men in Nigeria, instead of strong public institutions. He yearned for a change.
The Security Chiefs have lived up to this expectation as today, Nigerian Military has regained it’s lost glory, by conducting itself as a responsive and responsible military, earning the pride of Nigerians and recognition of the world as a force in warfare.
Gen. Olonisakin and his colleagues in the security sector have done an excellent job and deserves Presidential commendation. An extension for these Security Chiefs to finish what they have started is critically sensitive and important.
Ainoko wrote this piece from Kaduna, Kaduna State.