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Published On: Mon, Feb 24th, 2020

Sacking of Service Chiefs in the eyes of security experts

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R-L; President Muhammadu Buhari in a meeting with Service Chiefs; Minister of Defence, Brig Gen Mansur Dan Ali, Chief of Defence Staff General Abayomi Olonosakin, Minister of Army, Lt General T.Y Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar during the Security meeting at the State House Abuja. Photo: State House

By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja

The tenure of the Service Chiefs has received the backing of some security experts in the country who advised that letting the Service Chiefs go now would be counterproductive in the ongoing war against terrorism in the country.
In an exclusive chat, Colonel JIP Ubah (rtd), a former military administrator of Kebbi State stated that the Service Chiefs in the country had been engaged in the war against terrorism and other violent militant group and any attempt to change them now would ultimately affect the gains made so far. Colonel Ubah stated that in line with global practices, war commanders are not changed in the middle of warfare as it would be counterproductive and might lead to a setback.
“The Boko Haram war in Nigeria is a very dynamic one that requires the deployment of strategy and well-thought-through tactics. This is what the current service chiefs have done in the past years that have seen to the gains recorded so far. I believe that the tempo they have built must be sustained towards to final onslaught against the insurgents.”
“If there is indeed a change in the leadership structure now, it would afford the insurgents the time to regroup and carry out offensive because the new leadership would require time to settle down and in unconventional warfare; a minute is more than enough to wreak havoc and turn the tide.”
In a similar vein, a top security official who pleaded anonymity stated that Nigerians must understand firstly that the security challenges facing the country are such that requires an astronomical level of vigilance and that those calling for the sack of Service Chiefs are doing it out of ignorance.
“Those not conversant with military operations should desist from heating the polity by openly calling for the sack of Service Chiefs. It is wrong for anyone to want to dabble into military operations under whatever guise. I would say such calls are borne out of ignorance because they don’t belong to the security sector. If only they can have a peep into what goes on within the security architecture in the country, they would come to appreciate the efforts of the present leadership of the Armed Forces.”
A retired security chief from the eastern part of the country also corroborated this line of thought by heaping praises on the ongoing efforts to rid the country of terrorist activities. He stated that the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to retain the Service Chiefs in the country is the rational thing to do given the enormity of the task at hand and being one who has fought wars in times past and understands the dynamics involved.
“For some of us that have passed through the system, we must admit that the present bunch has been very impressive in the discharge of their duties. We have been watching the situation in North-East Nigeria and other parts of the country closely and conclude that there is no basis for President Muhammadu Buhari to effect a change in the leadership structure of the Armed Forces.”
“Don’t forget that he is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and he oversees the security operations in the country. I think Nigerians should avoid politicizing the situation by calling for the sack of the Service Chiefs. That is the prerogative of Mr. President, and I think his grasps of issues are top-notch, and I would advise that he doesn’t tinker with the present arrangement.”
Professor Dubem Askari of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, believed that the call for the sack of Service Chiefs was the handiwork of those not kind to the history of Nigeria. He stated that those conversant with the history of armed struggle in Nigeria would realize that the effort of the Nigerian Military in maintaining internal security in the country is indeed outstanding.
“Years of misrule, massive corruption, and squandering of development opportunities by successive governments have not only pauperized large segments of the population, but they have also left frayed nerves, forcing frustrated Nigerians to bare fangs against erstwhile peaceful neighbors at the individual and communal levels.”
“ So it is not a function of sacking the Service Chiefs, it is rather a function of understanding enormity of the task at hand and appreciating the efforts of the Nigerian Military that have been drafted into internal security operations alongside their constitutionally recognized role of preserving the territorial integrity of Nigeria.”
In a similar development, some security experts in the country have advised President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore the grumblings over his stance on retaining the Service Chiefs in the country, stating that it is one of the strategies deployed by sponsors of terrorism in Nigeria to cause a distraction.
A former director of the Department of State Security Service who didn’t want his name in print stated that, the call for the sack of Service Chiefs are aimed at distracting the troops in the battlefront so that the Boko Haram/ISWAP gang can launch a counteroffensive.

“We must understand that there is also the role of human psychology in warfare, and this is what the Boko Haram/ISWAP leadership is attempting to engage in through the propaganda for the call for the sack of Service Chiefs. This is a highly distractive exercise, and I am glad that President Muhammadu Buhari has elected to ignore and instead focus on the task at hand. The decision of President Muhammadu Buhari is the best so far as psychological warfare is concerned.”
He also added that the hierarchy of the Nigerian Military must control the narrative and engage the minds of the officers and soldiers in battle because they are indeed the target of the propaganda.
“The officers and soldiers at the war front are psychologically vulnerable, and the Nigerian Military must devise means to control the narrative, so they don’t lose concentration. This could be achieved through writing personal letters to the officers and soldiers in the war front or routine visits. This is very important because some of the officers and soldiers can engage in undermining acts that would further lend credence to the call for the sack of Service Chiefs. It is just how human psychology is configured.”
Professor Istifanus Gomwalk of the Department of General and Applied Psychology of the University of Jos was of the opinion that the Boko Haram group is skilled in the art of engaging in psychological warfare and they have been backing this up with guerrilla tactics since the Military has decimated them and hindered their operations.
“The government must understand that this push is from unlikely sources aimed at regrouping, and the government must not give in to this strategy. Echoing for the president to change his security team is one of such strategies, and it must be resisted if we are serious about winning the war against terrorism in Nigeria.”
It would be recalled that there have been calls for the sack of Service Chiefs in the country owing to the spate of insecurity in some certain parts of the country. Some concerned stakeholders in the country have questioned such calls as the handiwork of mischief makers who are not happy with the gains made so far in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria.

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