Tuesday, 26th January 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari announced the resignation/retirement of the service chiefs and their replacements.
Through a press release by the Media Adviser, Femi Adesina, the announcement came thus, Major General Leo Irabor replaced General Abayomi Olonisakin as Chief of Defense Staff, Major-General Ibrahim Attahiru replaced Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai as Chief of Army Staff, Rear-Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo replaced Vice-Admiral Ibok Ekwe Obad as Chief of Naval Staff, while Air-Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao replaced Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar as Chief of Air Staff.
Although the news of the service chiefs replacement came much later than expected, nonetheless, it came with a message that: merit matters to President Muhammadu. Yes, worthiness or excellence, take key or priority position in service.
Looking through the intimidating resume’ of the newly appointed service chiefs, it is evident that the promotions are merit-based, with clear signs of impartiality and objectivity. It’s a case of square pegs in square holes.
Almost in unison, all Nigerians seem engaged in merrymaking, with a single call that the new service chiefs should hurriedly hit the ground running with innovations in the fight against insurgency, banditry and kidnapping, the biggest bane of the country now.
Speaking on the NTA Network News on Tuesday, Mr Adesina said the Presidency is promising Nigerians a new vigour and fresh onslaught in the battle against insurgency.
The summary of the President’s message, through Adesina, is that there would be a new injection into the security architecture and methodology of the fight. There would be a new task and a new speed with which the adopted strategy would be executed. With the new leadership, which is merit-based, a new culture of operation would be seen, under a new style, in line with the code of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
But replacing the military service chiefs is just one step among the many steps expected to be taken by the President, in the journey to put Nigeria on the path of safety and security. Other security agencies should equally be reinvigorated.
While the military is expected to address the incursion and operation of insurgents, the police are particularly expected to maintain internal security, and restore people’s confidence in the protection of personal and public properties.
The public expectation, therefore, is that, as the tenure of the present Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, is about to end in a few days time, the same factors should be used by the President in appointing his replacement.
Of course, it is the discretion of the President to extend his tenure, if he so wishes, but should he think otherwise, he should replace him with a befitting person of merit.
Better than anyone, PMB is very much aware of the plight of northern Nigeria today, which is bleeding because of the bursts of terrorism, resurgence and escalation of banditry and kidnappings, cattle rustling etc.
There is no gainsaying that Nigeria has long been plagued by numerous security challenges, with kidnappings for ransom being the most troubling, and the north-central, the umbilical cord of the north has since turned into the epicentre of these evils.
Under Mohammed Adamu as the IGP, some level of success was recorded by the police in the fight, but the problem seems to be mutating with undiminishing intensity. The trend must be reversed.
It is pertinent for the President to make Nigerians merry more, by looking at how best to sustain the achievements of Mohammed Adamu in tackling the menace, and the best way forward is to make merit the yardstick of choice.
With the tenures of the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, Mohammed Babandede and that of his counterpart at the Nigeria Correctional Service, NCS, Jafar Ahmed deeply enmeshed in controversies, additional expectations are placed on the President to place merit above myopic matters in choosing their successors.
Doing that would boost the morale of officers, and promote the strive for merit.
Bala Ibrahim, a media Advisor, writes from Abuja