Nigerians may soon begin to witness a new approach to tackling insecurity in the country as the new service chiefs assumed duties yesterday, vowing to raise the tempo of the heat on terrorists, oil thieves and other criminals until they are totally subdued.
The new Chief of Defence Staff, Maj.-Gen. Christopher Musa, while taking over the command of the Armed Forces from the erstwhile defence chief, Gen. Lucky Irabor, yesterday, in Abuja, reiterated the determination of the military to go after terrorists, bandits and other criminals in full force.
He said the military under his command would go all out to ensure that there is security of life and property in Nigeria.
“As the CDS, my promise to Nigeria is that we will continue to improve on our mandate of sustaining peace and tranquility in our country.
“I will assure every Nigerian to feel safe that the armed forces are up and doing and are highly professional and will be there for them. Nobody should doubt our determination to bring peace to Nigeria and anybody, especially the criminals, bandits, terrorists who think otherwise should be ready to face the music.
“The Nigerian armed forces will come out in full force while safeguarding the safety and security of the citizenry,” he said.
Gen. Musa also promised to proiritise the welfare of personnel to enable the military get the best from them, saying that a soldier that is well fed, well taken care of would give his best.
In his remarks, the former CDS, General Lucky Irabor, urged his successor to ensure the value and professional standards of the military are upheld. Irabor said he handed over to a tested and trusted officer who, by all standards, is a model for the armed forces.
“I appreciate the president for finding Maj.-Gen. Musa very suitable to take over the reins of the armed forces. I ask that you redouble your efforts so that the cherished values and professional standard be maintained,” he said.
Irabor added that quite a lot had been achieved, expressing confident that the armed forces were in the right mood to achieve set targets.
“Looking at the mood of the armed forces, they will help you and your team of service chiefs to ensure that the professional standard of the armed forces is retained,” he said.
The new Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Maj.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, also assumed command of the Nigerian Army as the 23rd army chief, yesterday, with a pledge to discharge his responsibilities with fairness.
Lagbaja took the baton from the 22nd Chief, Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya, who had been in command since May 2021.
He said that God had made it his turn to receive the mantle of leadership of the Nigerian Army, an aspiration of every combatant army officer.
The new army chief said the Nigerian Army had in the past 25 months, witnessed milestone transformation under his predecessor. He listed unprecedented procurement of equipment and prudent management of human and material resources, the dividends of which Nigeria has begun to reap as part of the transformation.
Lagbaja thanked the former COAS for mentorship and empowering his military career. He noted that, following Yahaya’s leadership style, terrorists have been surrendering in droves like never before.
“There is no doubt that the experience and exposure garnered under you will help in the discharge of my duties as the Chief of Army Staff, as you transit into retirement on this glorious day.
“I assure you that I shall do everything within my power to improve on your legacy of a proficient, effective and admirable Nigerian Army.
“I promise that I shall discharge my responsibilities as COAS with fairness; merit and hard work shall be duly rewarded while appropriate measures taken to bring back in line anyone that errs,” he added.
Earlier, Yahaya said he was leaving the Nigerian Army better than he met it, adding that the army made remarkable successes in the fight against insecurity.
He said that the adversaries were already in a disarray across all theatres of operations. He charged officers and men to maintain the tempo.
“You must always conduct yourselves professionally in accordance with the ethics, customs and traditions.
“You must continue to make deliberate efforts to improve your performance for heightened security, especially at this time of a new administration in our growing democracy.
“I charge you all to re-double your efforts in supporting the incoming Chief of Army Staff to achieve even greater heights.”
The new Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, also pledged to ensure a safer maritime domain as he assumed office as the 22nd indigenous naval chief, yesterday.
Ogalla took over the leadership of the Navy from Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, who had been in command since January 2021.
The new naval chief thanked God for the privilege and pledged to ensure that the Nigerian Navy sustains the aspiration of being the best. He also thanked President Bola Tinubu for entrusting him with the responsibility, pledging unwavering commitment to the security and prosperity of the nation in line with the vision of the President.
Ogalla, who expressed his commitment to serve Nigeria with utmost dedication and integrity, said the navy under his predecessor had made remarkable strides in safeguarding Nigeria’s maritime domain, protecting national interests and contributing to regional peace and stability. “Most auspiciously are the fleet recapitalisation efforts culminating in the hosting of a Presidential Fleet Review.”
The new CNS solicited the cooperation of all personnel in ensuring the success of the navy and upholding the highest standard of professionalism, integrity and dedication to duties.
He, however, said the task ahead was still challenging, as Nigeria still faced significant challenges such as crude oil theft, illegal refineries and unregulated fishing, piracy, sea robbery, various forms of trafficking and other maritime crimes.
According to him, these are not just threats to maritime security, but also to Nigeria’s economic stability and development.
“We are committed to tackling these security challenges head-on and we will intensify our efforts to curb crude oil theft and put an end to illegal refining. We will enhance our capabilities to combat piracy and sea robbery and ensure the general safety of our maritime domain,” he said.
The outgone CNS, Rear Adm. Gambo said the navy under him pursued a single purpose target of addressing the subversive and nefarious activities in the nations’ maritime domain.
According to him, the service evolved more stringent operations, concepts and strategies to tackle the devastating impacts of piracy, sea robbery, proliferation of illegal refinery, brazen crude oil theft, destruction of critical oil and gas infrastructure, among others.
“To this end, we heightened our commitment to anti-piracy operations, anti-COT operations, choke point operations as well as riverine and swamp operations.
“To give impetus to this resolve, we embarked on massive fleet renewal, robust logistics management, acquisition of additional platforms, human capital enhancement and holistic infrastructural development as well as effective collaboration with local and international partners.
“Our determination to face the several maritime security challenges would have been weakened if not for the immense support we received from the various quarters,” Gambio said.
He expressed gratitude to the personnel for their dedication, teamwork and professionalism, urging them to keep up the high standards and remain devoted to the service.
Meanwhile, the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Olukayode Adeolu Egbetokun, has unveiled new policing strategies, pledging to restore public trust in the police.
The IGP unveiled the new strategy aimed at achieving operational successes and winning back public trust in the force during the inaugural conference with strategic police managers comprising members of the Force Management Team, Assistant Inspectors-General of Police, Commissioners of Police and other heads of police formations in the country.
The conference was held at the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Peacekeeping Hall, Force Headquarters, Abuja.
Highlights of the IGP’s policing vision include upholding the sanctity of the legal framework of the Nigeria Police Force; tackling the menace of crimes and criminality with the establishment of a specialised Quick Intervention Squad comprising combat ready Police Mobile Force personnel with effective and enhanced training in crisis de-escalation and violent crime reduction strategies; leveraging cutting-edge tools, data analytics, and intelligence networks for a robust and effective human and technical intelligence gathering process to enhance police capacity and strengthen inter-agency collaboration.
The new policing vision will also focus on enhancing the police training curriculum for attitudinal and behavioural changes; improved welfare and resuscitating the Police Officer Support Unit (POSU) of the Police Medical Services to serve as confidential support and counseling facility for all police officers; implementing a new recognition and reward system to better motivate and encourage our dedicated personnel; community policing through a more vibrant engagement of the Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC), and the establishment of a Citizens Engagement Focus Group.
In a related development, the IGP has appointed CP Olatunji Disu as his Principal Staff Officer.
Other aides appointed by the IGP include CSP Ganiyu Adebowale as Personal Assistant (PA-IGP), SP Adewale Ajibuwa as Chief Protocol Officer (CPO-IGP), DSP Sheriff Lawal as Aide-de-Camp (ADC-IGP) and DSP Olawole Ogunwusi J. as Chief Security Officer (CSO-IGP).
Egbetokun reassured Nigerians that the police under his command would symbolise excellence, integrity and compassion. He urged the citizens to collaborate with the Police to shape a future where justice triumphs, the vulnerable find solace, citizens go about their lawful businesses without fear of insecurity or molestation, and where every citizen can truly believe in the power of law enforcement.
Also, as Nigerians wait to see how the newly appointed National Security Adviser (NSA), Nuhu Ribadu, will coordinate the nation’s security apparatus to ensure relative peace in all regions of the country, experts have averred that the fact that he is the first ex-police officer to occupy the position since the restoration of democracy in 1999 would not hamper his job.
The security experts, who applauded President Tinubu’s for appointing the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) into the position, expressed optimism that Ribadu would draw from his wealth of experience to ensure that all the security apparatuses of the country collaborate effectively to secure the country.
Although some of the experts knocked the President for looking in the direction of a retired police officer in choosing the NSA, they admitted that he breached no rule.
In an interview with The Guardian, a former Director of DSS, Dennis Amachree noted that, “appointing Nuhu Ribadu as NSA is a welcome departure from appointing ex-military generals to that position.” He, however, noted that Ribadu should be ready to coordinate the military, security and intelligence community.
A security expert, Christopher Oji, also stated that the former EFCC boss had gone for serious security training all over the world, where he blended with other security agents.
His words: “He is well read and does not need to be in the military or the DSS to be grounded in security. The appointment is in order. The President might have put certain things into consideration such as sincerity and the will power to do the job. We know Nuhu Ribadu to be a sincere person and a dogged fighter. He will be able to tell it to the president without fear of favour. “When we go back to history, the president had always appointed retired military men or the DSS officers for the NSA job, but how have they fared? They have always been enmeshed in politics and tribalism.
“Probably the president thought towards that angle and decided to try a retired police officer, after all, he has enough books to read to equip himself more. He has contacts in the military where he may seek advice on defence or the Immigration Service where he can also seek advice on border security,” he said.
According to Oji, what the country needs now is someone that would be able to give reasonable advice without playing politics or being tribalistic.
“Ribadu will do better than the military men who have been so involved in politics. Yes, we need total deviation from the status quo. We should be able to try other agencies. I think the police are in a better position to advise on how to police the country.”
On his part, security consultant and publisher of PR Nigeria, Alhaji Yushau Shuaib, stated that, an NSA is expected to provide advisory and coordinate security matters, diplomatic efforts, economic policy and intelligence services for peace and stability of the nation.
“Therefore, anyone with cognitive experience and exposure in security and most importantly intelligence service at the highest level can make positive impact as NSA.”
However, the National Coordinator of the Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the appointment was not well thought out.
“It is a ‘job for the boys’ sort of appointment and political patronage at best,” he declared.
According to Onwubiko, the job of a National Security Adviser is such a strategic one that it has to be handled with tact and no efforts should be spared to ensure that only the best person is picked “instead of putting round peg in a square hole as it were.”
He added: “It is inappropriate given the lack of any sort of requisite experience in diplomacy, intelligence, defence and other key skills that are required for such a key appointment. However, the job of a National Security Adviser to the President is not necessarily for retired military officers. After all, the last person to hold that position failed abysmally to unify the different sections of the national security institutions to be able to win the war on terror.
“Rather, it was during the last eight years that terrorists almost took control of the nation’s federal capital by invading the city many times, including the massive destruction of Kuje Minimum Security Prisons in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) during which time over a thousand high profile Islamic terrorists of Boko Haram escaped and haven’t been recaptured till date.
“Besides, in the U.S. from which we borrowed that practice of appointing a National Security Adviser, and in a few other jurisdictions, tested and trusted diplomats, scholars in distinctive courses such as politics, diplomacy, international law and international relations are usually appointed.
“In USA, there are many instances of appointment of non career military officers such as Condolisa Rice as NSA, amongst other important scholars that have served the different Presidents of the U.S.”
On whether Ribadu would succeed on the job, Onwubiko added: “What the NSA needs to do to combat the heightened state of insecurity is to coordinate and unify the war on terror being waged by the diverse segments of the Armed Forces and police, including the national intelligence department of the nation, so all these relevant security related institutions are made to work in harmony to achieve the collective goal of eradicating all traces of threats to our national security.
“He has to bring the best brains in national security, defence, politics and international law and relations to contribute their knowledge that will culminate in the professional enforcement of those important strategies to achieve the objectives for which he is appointed to that very high profile post.
“He must not play politics with that appointment and it is not to be seen as a time for him to accommodate his followers who are his political lieutenants. He must look beyond partisan politics and work vigorously with the other top officers heading the relevant national security bodies, to achieve a common national objective of making Nigeria safe and stopping armed freelance attackers, murderers, terrorists, armed herdsmen, from unleashing blood-cuddling violence on the civil populace.”