Abuja — President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday moved to restore public confidence in his administration’s capability to protect lives and property, as he pointedly told security chiefs to up their game.
The president, at a meeting yesterday with the security chiefs, warned that he would no longer condone further deteriorating security condition in the country.
At a security council meeting attended by all heads of the armed forces and other security agencies as well as the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, in the State House, Buhari who told the service chiefs that they might seem to be doing their best, did not mince words to say “their best was not enough.”
He demanded an immediate reversal of the current security crisis ravaging the country.
The meeting held against the backdrop of the growing disenchantment with the worsening insecurity in the country, especially in the North.
The disenchantment reached a head in the last few weeks when people from the president’s home state of Katsina poured onto the streets to protest the rising wave of banditry and kidnappings in the state.
A massive protest, organised by the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), rocked Katsina, the state capital on Tuesday, prompting the president to dispatch security chiefs, led by the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Mungono (rtd), to the state on Wednesday, to find solutions to the security crisis. The delegation was also in Sokoto, which is in the throes of banditry.
Also, in the North-east, there has been a resurgence in Boko Haram attacks, the worst in recent times occured in Faduma Kolomdi, a village in Gubio Local Government Area of Borno State in which 81 people were killed in one day.
Bandits also killed over 70 people in Sokoto, also in one day, while Southern Kaduna, Zamfara, Niger, Plateau and Benue States have become the hotbeds of insecurity.
In one of the protests in Katsina, marchers destroyed billboards of Buhari in expression of their anger against his perceived inability to provide security for the country.
Besides, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CNG and the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) have condemned escalating security crisis and told the president to get his act together.
However, notwithstanding the apparent inability of the security chiefs to protect lives and property, Buhari has rebuffed persistent calls for their sacking.
Briefing State House reporters after the meeting, Monguno said Buhari expressed grave concern over the high degree of insecurity in the country, saying the president “was extremely unhappy” with the current security crisis .
According to Monguno, Buhari reminded the heads of the security agencies that prior to his election, fight against insecurity was one of his campaign promises, drawing their attention to the implications of making him to preside over an insecure country.
Monguno said the president reminded the security chiefs that their appointments were not based on recommendations but rather unilaterally made by him, adding that it was up to them to justify such appointments and stop disappointing the people.
He said the president told them to address the issue of proliferation of small and light arms as well as drugs, noting that such issues fuel banditry in the North-west and terrorism in the North-east.
“A meeting was just concluded between Mr. President and heads of the security agencies, that is the operational heads consisting minister of defence, the service chiefs and on the other hand, the intelligence components that is consisting of myself and the intelligence heads.
“Today’s meeting basically focused on recent developments. Mr. President has expressed great concern over the declining security situation in the country. He is extremely unhappy about what is happening and he feels that, even though the security agencies are doing their best, their best is not good enough for him and wants and immediate reversal of the current trend and immediate reversal of our misfortune in all their dimensions.
“Mr. President also told us clearly in no uncertain terms that he, and indeed the administration, campaigned to power on the platform of three issues – fighting insecurity, overcoming our economic difficulties and dealing with the scourge of corruption. Moreso, he noted that it takes common sense for anyone to understand that without security, the pursuit of the other two will just be an exercise in futility.
“He, therefore, warned the security agencies to take into consideration the wider implication of the gradual decline of the security of this country; he is not going to accept any further escalation of the security situation.
“He stated that no one was forced on him. He selected everyone individually based on what he felt their records had revealed and therefore, it is up to individual organisations to live up to the expectations. “Again, Mr. President has also said that it is extremely important that we in the security agencies ensure that we justify the leadership by not disappointing the populace.
“He also pointed out the immediate areas of concern and these areas are also interlinked and we must find a way out, especially the issue of proliferation of drugs, small arms and light weapons. These two issues also go hand in hand with the major issues of criminality in this country, be they banditry on one hand on the North-west of Nigeria or terrorism in the North-east,” he said.
Monguno added that the meeting expressed concern about the use of unregistered SIM cards, noting that insecurity will not be overcome until that matter is promptly checked.
The NSA, who also said he would call a meeting of security chiefs with governors of states threatened by insecurity, explained that the president had asked him to work with the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Ali Pantami, to address the issue of unregistered SIM cards.
“Now, added to this, another area which raises concern is the use of unregistered SIM cards. In my own brief, I dwelt on that issue and I raised concern that whatever we intend to achieve, we will not be able to get to the promised land unless we wrestle this issue of unrestrained acquisition of unregistered SIM cards.
“Mr. President has directed that I, as the national security adviser, should link up with the honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy to workout a blueprint to ensure the end of the irresponsible use of any SIM card. Of course, I urged my colleagues, the Inspector General of Police and Director General of Department of State Services to help on this issue.
“Again, my office is going to call on certain governors, starting with the governors of the North-west zone, including the governor of Niger State, to come over to Abuja, so that I meet with them and my colleagues in intelligence and security,” he stated.
The NSA also spoke on lack of coordination among security agencies, noting that the matter will have to be decisively addressed with the creation of a platform for the coordination of all security operations.
He said the president’s warning yesterday was a strong signal to all of them in the security sector that they have to sit up, adding that he understood that there has be an issue of loss of confidence and loss of trust in them by the people.
Monguno said the matter would have to be jointly addressed by political authorities, security agencies and the judiciary.
He said: “Finally, the issue of lack of synergy within the security sector has to be addressed also and has left us in no doubt that unless we address this issue and form a single front, the convergence of efforts, the confluence of all ideas be they operational or intelligence, must be achieved. We must have a central platform to coordinate all the efforts, all operations and security.
“In the final analysis, Mr. President has said everyone is doing his best but his best is not good enough, that should send a signal to all of us. But again, it is also incumbent on the wider Nigerian population to key into whatever the security agencies are doing, understanding that there has been an issue of loss of confidence, loss of trust, abuse or whatever.
“These issues will have to be addressed by a discussion between security agencies and the political leadership and of course, the judiciary will come in. I, the national security adviser, want to reassure Nigerians that each and every department or agency or component, will redouble its efforts and ensure that we reverse our dwindling fortune for the betterment of this country in the remaining period they have in the life time of this administration.”
Asked if the acknowledgment of underperformance of security chiefs by the president yesterday would eventually culminate in the replacement of the service chiefs, Monguno said only the president can take the decision.
Beside Monguno and Adamu, other security chiefs at the meeting were the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
Others were the Minister of Defence Brig-Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd.); Director General of the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai Abubakar; Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi; Chief of Defence Intelligence Agency, Air Vice Marshal Mohammded Sani Usman; Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, and Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
Police Arrest Students over Fresh Protest in Katsina
The police have arrested many students in Katsina following another wave of protest in the president’s home state over insecurity.
It was learnt that yesterday’s protest, coming on the heels of a similar one on Tuesday, was carried out by students drawn from tertiary institutions in the state, who called for the resignation of some top government officials.
The state police spokesman, Gambo Isah, a Superintendent of Police (SP), confirmed the arrest.
He said: “They came out on the streets saying the Secretary to the State Government must go; so we don’t know who is the brain behind this politically-motivated demonstration in Katsina.
“It is very unlawful and instigating members of the public against government, so it is a crime and we are not going to leave it.
“We will prosecute them in court. We will charge them for inciting disturbance, breach of peace amongst others.
Afenifere Demands Sacking of Security Chiefs
The Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, has urged the president to go beyond scolding them over their inability to address the security challenges facing the nation and relieve them of their duties.
Its spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, in a reaction to the meeting between Buhari and the security chiefs, told THISDAY that it was high time the military top brass were sacked.
He said: “Now that the whole world is lamenting the insecurity in Nigeria, will the president do the needful beyond scolding his ineffective chiefs?”
According to him, it is unfortunate that it has taken street protests in his home state for the president to realise that his security chiefs are failures.
“Patriotic Nigerians have shouted hoarse over the years that there was no reason to keep these people in office except for personal power consideration,” Odumakin said.
PANDEF Asks Buhari to Sack Security Chiefs
The apex socio-cultural of the Niger Delta region, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), also told Buhari to sack all the security chiefs for failing to protect lives and property.
PANDEF, in a statement entitled “Insecurity: Warning Service Chiefs, Not Enough”, issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Ken Robinson, said warning the security chiefs was not enough.
It added that it was sad and unfortunate that the president has again failed to be decisive and frontal in addressing the nation’s security challenges.
“We, therefore, call on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently replace the service chiefs, in the best interest of the country. The present service chiefs cannot do more than they are currently doing, and their best would never be good enough. They have outlived their usefulness; some of whom Mr. President extended their tenures,” it added.
According to the group, the president’s meeting with the service chiefs should have been a valedictory meeting for them.
“The government and security agencies cannot continue in the extant lackadaisical manner they are handling issues of insecurity, while criminals and terrorists perpetuate atrocious activities, with wanton destruction of property and killings of innocent people, virtually unfettered. A situation where citizens, constantly live in fear of their lives and property, is unacceptable,” PANDEF stated.