June 10, 2023

The Northern Elders Forum says the appointment of new service chiefs is not enough to bring the needed change Nigerians expect to see in the country’s war against insurgency and sundry security challenges, adding that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), must exercise leadership as the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces.

“The key is the president, he has to change his attitude to the defence and security of this country. You cannot run this country with all these security challenges and maintain the distance that he maintains with what is going on. You listen to the president and his spokespeople are telling you the situation is better than it was in 2015. It is a very disturbing thing when you hear this.

“There are no suicide bombings now but the population of Nigerians living under Boo Haram is large, huge and unacceptable,” NEF Spokesman, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed said on Wednesday while featuring on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme monitored by The PUNCH.

After much pressure from Nigerians for the President to bring in fresh hands to pilot the country’s anti-terrorism war especially against Boko Haram in the North-East, Buhari announced the appointment of four new service chiefs on Tuesday.

The new service chiefs are Major-General Leo Irabor as Chief of Defence Staff; Major-General Ibrahim Attahiru as Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral A.Z Gambo as Chief of Naval Staff; and Air-Vice Marshal I.O Amao as Chief of Air Staff.

But the northern elders said the replacement might not be effective if the president lead the new crop of service chiefs the same way he led the former commanders.

The group, speaking through its spokesman, Baba-Ahmed, said, “At last, it appeared that the President has considered that it is time for him to appoint new service chiefs.

“Our hope is that he is not just responding to public opinion but he himself acknowledges the fact that all service chiefs have ran out of steam. Their leadership did not produce the results it was intended to produce.

“But we don’t the nation to be carried away. It is important that the Armed Forces have a new leadership but they have a huge task and it has to start from the president.

“We have a Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces. The president has responsibility to lead the new service chief in a better way than he did in the past. He needs to recognise the fact that he has a role.

“He (Buhari) needs to have a closer eye on what is going on and hold the new service chiefs accountable to make sure that the changes are brought into the military in terms of conduct, professionalism, integrity, morale of the fighting forces and change in tactics.

“If these new service chiefs are led in the same manner the president exercised the distance between him and the conflict that the military is fighting, we are going to have the same problem.”

Baba-Ahmed also said Nigerians would know if the president made the right choices in his appointment of the new service chiefs in the next seven months.

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