Senator Ali Ndume
Senator Ali Ndume

Insurgency: Buhari must give new Service Chiefs timeline ― Ndume

NEWS DIGEST – The Senator representing Borno South, Ali Ndume, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to give the new set of Service Chiefs a timeline for fighting insurgency and banditry in the country.

Mr Ndume, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, gave the charge on Wednesday in Abuja while reacting to the Tuesday’s appointment of the Service Chiefs.

Recall that Mr Buhari had announced the appointment of new Service Chiefs with Major-General Leo Irabor, Major-General I. Attahiru, Rear Admiral A.Z Gambo and Air-Vice Marshal I.O Amao, as Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff and Chief of Air Staff, respectively.

The Senator noted that the new change in the Service Chiefs was in fulfilment of an earlier promise by President Buhari to rejig his security apparatus.

He, however, tasked the President to ensure that the new Service Chiefs were given a timeline to end the scary security challenge, particularly insurgency and banditry in the North East and North West.

He said: “The appointment of the new Service Chiefs is a welcome development and that goes to show that the President is keeping to his words.

“I remember in his New Year broadcast, he made a promise that he was going to rejig the security apparatus and that he assured Nigerians that the war against insurgency, banditry and other forms of criminality that have been disturbing the country will be properly addressed.

“This (appointment of new Service Chiefs) is part of the implementation of his promise and also it is just a change of guards, so to say. But the good thing about it is that the new Service Chiefs are not only qualified but they have the field and operational experience. The CDS, I know him very well, I have worked with him in Maiduguri.

“He was a very performing officer and from there he was posted to the Joint Military Taskforce in the Lake Chad region and we have seen how gallant, intelligent and humble he is. It was during his tenure that he upgraded the civil-Army relations to a next level. He is experienced enough.

“The Chief of Army Staff was also a Theatre Commander at one-time, even though his tenure was very short. He knows the terrain very well, he has the experience.

“Also, the Chief of Air Staff was at the theatre, in fact, at one time he was the deputy commandant of the Operation Lafiya Dole. And even the Chief of Naval Staff is not new to the terrain having come from Kano, he knows the place very well.

“So, we are expecting that with this development and being conversant with the insurgency problem in the North-East particularly and in the country in general, Nigerians by the several calls they have made for the change of the Service Chiefs, have very high expectation on the new Service Chiefs. But I am confident that this crop of people will be able to deal or address this issue.

“The good side of it is that the military hardware ordered by the government have started arriving and that will give them a better capability or capacity.

“Like the ground troops need the necessary air cover or air power and with the acquisition of fighter helicopters, 23 of them, I think they are coming in or have started arriving and I think they have received about 18 of them and with the expected arrival of Tucano jets this year and also the fact that the budget of the Armed Forces has been improved, we are expecting also that their performance will improve.

“The only snag now or what is remaining is for the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies responsible for making the releases especially the Ministry of Finance, should be releasing the monies that have been appropriated to the Armed Forces timely.

“In fact, I have been advocating and I am still advocating that now that there is a new set of Service Chiefs, their requirements should be front-loaded, that is to say, if they require so, so amount to execute the war, they should be exempted from quarterly allocations and be given their money upfront.

“And once the government does that, I suggest that the President should now be sitting with them for the first or second time, give them a timeline, that ‘Look! You want this, I have given you, you want this, I have given you, what else?’ If they say nothing, ‘okay, give me a time when will you finish this war’.

“That should determine their tenure. If they don’t perform, the government should not waste time in replacing them.”

“The Chairman Senate Committee on Army who tasked Nigerians in the affected communities in the North East to give adequate support to the military further called for proper coordination of the military operations by the office of the National Security Adviser.

“The NSA should coordinate their activities and give weekly or maybe monthly briefing to Mr President.

“There must be proper supervision of the Service Chiefs, the office of NSA must be able to do that, he is supposed to coordinate both the Police, Army and others. What is happening daily must be known to. Mr President from a situation room.

“There must be proper coordination between the various Service Chiefs, especially on intelligence gathering. There is the need for the Army now to have a war plan, on when to end the insurgency. For banditry, there must be a timeline too.”