Home Cover Story New Cabinet: Southern leaders demand review of security appointments

New Cabinet: Southern leaders demand review of security appointments

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…berate Buhari over rising insecurity

Ahead of the May 29th second term swearing in of President Muhammadu Buhari, and the president’s appointment of new cabinet, Southern leaders have insisted that he reviews the country’s security architecture to reflect country’s federal character and in the interest of peace and national cohesion. Even as they attacked him for his inability to tackle the country’s escalating security challenges.

The leaders, who in their various interactions with BusinessHallmark, expressed dismay over what they called “Northernisation” of the country’s security architecture, argued that a situation where “all security and intelligence agencies,” are headed by one section of the country, the Muslim North, is in breach of the extant laws of the land, and an invitation to corruption and anarchy.

“We would like the president of Nigeria to adhere strictly to section 14 of the constitution of the country,” said Chieftain of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and president emeritus of Igbo think tank group, Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazurike. “Section 14 (3) provides that the composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies, and the conduct of its affairs shall be in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and to command national loyalty by ensuring that there is no predominance of persons from one sectional group.”

Chief Uwazurike noted that as it is at the moment, the Buhari government has shown disregard for the constitution, expressing outrage that Buhari cannot find any individual of Igbo extraction worthy to head any security agency.

“As it is, the government of today has no respect for the constitution. If it did, it wouldn’t be carrying on with this kind of security architecture. I find it strange that when it comes to appointing security chiefs, no Igbo person is found worthy. We have had presidents in the past and all their security appointments had been spread. It is only now that we are hearing that security chiefs can only come from one side because they are promoted on merit. It is preposterous and untenable.”

He noted that the Igbo have continued to distinguish themselves in education and entrepreneurship all over the country and wondered what criteria the President could have used to select his “merit” security appointments such that the Igbo could not meet it.

Uwazurike therefore said the president must make amends in his second term.

“The security architecture of this country is not proper and I call for a change. We call on him to adhere to section 14 of the constitution. He swore to uphold the constitution. If he is not doing it, then he has to address the nation and tell us why he is not bound by the constitution,” he said.

“Necessary changes must be made. Everybody must have a sense of belonging. Is it not strange that whenever they are discussing security issues, either at the police level, Customs level, the armed forces level, immigration level, there is no Igbo person there? The nearest you can get for anybody in the South is the Chief of Naval Staff, then Chief of Defence Staff. So, you notice that there is a deliberate effort to exclude the rest of the country and I condemn it,” he concluded.

Similarly, Afenifere chieftain, Senator Femi Okunronmu criticised President Buhari, noting that the president was pursuing an ethnic agenda for domination. Calling for a review of the security appointments, Okunronmu regretted that lives are no longer safe under Buhari. According to him, the president is not competent enough and he’s more of a Fulani president than a Nigerian leader.

Okunronmu said the ongoing killings in the southern part of the country and Christians dominated parts of the North are strategically figured out by Fulani elites to capture the whole of Nigeria by all means necessary.

“The leader of the Fulani in Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello said in 1960 shortly after independent that, ‘This new nation called Nigeria shall be an extension of the Estate of our great grandfather, Othman Danfodio, we must ruthlessly prevent a change of government. We must use the people of the middle belt as willing tools and the people of the south as conquered territory and never let them rule over us, never let them control their own future;’ so, tell me, what can be more explicit than that?”

“The killings are going unchecked because Buhari has keyed into the Fulani agenda”, the senator said.

He advised that rather than waiting to be all killed, Nigerians should brace up to defend themselves, while alleging that some governors are scared to checkmate insecurity being perpetrated by Fulani miscreants in their domain because they don’t want to offend Buhari.

In his own words, Emeritus Professor of History and Second Republic Senator, Banji Akintoye, said the worsening insecurity in the country has been exacerbated by the decision of President Buhari and his government to tolerate their kinsmen who are daily unleashing terror on innocent Nigerians.

“It is unfortunate that things have gone worse under a government that swept to power largely on its promise to tackle insecurity. Each day, suspected Fulani herdsmen kill at will from the wasteland of the North East through the middle belt, and the South East and South West.

“Farmers are being attacked and killed in Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti and Yewa axis of Ogun State virtually every day with security agencies doing nothing to curtail the surge. Kidnappers are also having a field day snatching unprotected citizens and collecting ransoms, while the government and its security apparatus seem to be helpless.

“After graduating from unleashing terror on farmers by killing them in hundreds and wiping out their farmlands and villages, Fulani herdsmen have now graduated to bandits, cattle rustlers and kidnappers.

“A professor of medicine at the OAU was recently kidnapped on the Ife-Ilesa Expressway by Fulani group and ransom collected. Apart from several roads in the country that have become death traps, the popular Abuja-Kaduna Expressway is now a no go area due to the activities of daredevil kidnappers.

“People are dying daily and all the president says is ‘We will fish out the killers, yet, no one has been successfully prosecuted and punished for these heinous crimes’.

“I believe it is high time all public officials and opinion leaders in the South West join hands to defend all lands, farmers, private and public property in the region from being invaded and captured by external forces. The present government in power has shown that it cannot help its citizens. If the government can’t help us, we should help ourselves, said the emeritus professor.”

Also speaking, Chief Anselm Njoku, leader of Igbo APC Forum, Lagos State and the Akeweje of Alausa, Ikeja, argued that part of the reason the security situation is getting worse is that the heads of security agencies are concentrated on section of the country and therefore, there is limited ideas and lack of accountability. He maintained that if the Buhari government wants to better tackle the security situation in the country, he should avail himself of minds from different parts of the country.

“If you want to improve security in this country, you must not sectionalise it. If you allow the various ethnic groups, or the various zones to be part of the security architecture, you find out that there will be checks and balances,” he said.

“Whether you like it or not, ethnicity is still a factor in the Nigerian polity. We have not advanced beyond that. So, if any leader wants to get security right, he must make sure that he mixes up the security chiefs and ensure they are not from one ethnic group.

“If you appoint from one ethnic group, it is already corruption. As they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely. When power is vested in one section of the country, it encourages corruption. There will be no accountability. Since they speak the same language, none will be afraid of the other.”

Chief Njoku called on Buhari to restructure the security set up of the country in his second term. Doing so, he said, will do him and the country a lot of good.

“The president should restructure the security apparatus and make sure every zone is represented. The security challenges we have in the zones are different in nature. So, if you have people from all these areas, they will bring solutions or give you ideas about how to go about the security challenges in their area. That way, you are able to better tackle it. The president should address this in his second coming.”

For Akogun Tola Adeniyi, convener, G9, a group of Southern and Middle Belt opinion leaders, and former Managing Director of the Daily Times, however, it is a waste of time advising Buhari. According to him, the president appears to be pursuing an agenda and has demonstrated inability to heed any such advice.

“I don’t think anybody should waste their time asking Buhari to change his messianic agenda which created his security architecture at this point in time. After all the man told the country that the world’s 4th most deadly terrorist gang is equivalent to a socio-political organization.”

President Buhari has continued to come under increasing criticism for his concentration of the headship of nearly all security agencies in the country in the hands of the Muslim North.

Presently, nearly all armed bearing and intelligence agencies are headed by the same group. From the military, headed by the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai to the Police headed by Mohammed Adamu, IGP, EFCC, Air Force, etc are all northern Moslems.

Others are Department of State Services, Yusuf Magaji Bichi; Nigeria Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar; Commandant, National Security and Civil Defence Corps, Abdullahi Muhammadu; Controller, Prison Service, Ahmed Ja’Afaru; Controller, Customs Service, Hameed Ali; Controller, Immigration Service, Mohammed Babadende.

Also on the list of top security appointments are National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno and Defence Minister, Brig. Gen. Mansur Dan Ali while the same group has an overwhelming majority in GOCs and other commanding officers of the army.

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