BY TARKAA DAVID, Abuja
When on January 26, 2021, the new crop of Service Chiefs who clocked 100 days in office on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 were appointed to saddle the boat of their various crack services, they bore the conviction and still do, that the business of security is principally to protect Nigerians and take them out of the snare of terrorists and other criminal elements to which they had been plunged.
Their appointment followed the retirement of the former service chiefs, which many Nigerians had clamoured for, but were seemingly ignored, even in the face of rising criminality in the country.
The question now is, given the complexity of the present security challenges after their appointments, what was missing in the efforts of the former service chiefs, what have these new ones done differently to ensure success and restore the lost confidence of Nigerians in the security architecture?
Hundred days after appointment, these security chiefs have since made several incursions into areas that had hitherto been either ignored or treated with mild hand.
As expected, they have made great strides in some areas but with little success in other areas. But the truth remains that even in such areas where the results so far have been below the nation’s expectations, they have not given up. Rather, they are making every effort by going the extra mile and also by confronting those challenges headlong.
Some of the setbacks include but not limited to the capture of Mainok,Marte,Dikwa by the Boko Haram Terrorists in Borno State. This is in addition to the missing NAF jet which has remained a mystery after a month of it’s disappearance while providing close air support to ground troops.
Despite the challenges and fierce battle they are faced with, they have endeavoured to remain focused on their main task and mission – that of freeing the nation from the captivity of bandits, boko haram terrorists, kidnappers, list them.
Daunting as this may sound, the obstacles they encountered right from assumption of their positions were not only formidable, but had assumed almost impossible dimensions given their spread and depths of anchorage. Perhaps a little peep into the past they inherited would lead to a better appreciation of their efforts so far.
The Chief of Defence Staff,General Lucky Irabor in his leadership philosophy had described their appointment by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN), Muhammadu Buhari as one that came at a defining moment in the annals of the nation.
The CDS said, they took over the mantle to liberate the country at a time when public confidence in security agencies had not only dwindled to its lowest ebb , but had in fact, been replaced with a general state of distrust.
Irabor said, “ thus, whatever emanated from military before our arrival was viewed with suspicion and treated accordingly . This state of affairs naturally led to a general feeling of discontent , which had the potential of smoldering even the best of intentions.
From all the regions, wherever one looked, it was the same story. Even in the states’. In fact, when we came on board, many towns in the North East and other regions were under terrorists control.
He said, “We thus stood on hostile ground and under a difficult terrain to do battle with the formidable security challenges. That is the living picture and reality on ground when we stepped ashore”.
Having spent hundred days in office already, we make to reassure Nigerians and every one that this this is indeed the dawn of a new era. To fulfill this, we are ready to embark on a number of measures which we hope would see us to the goal of our dreams.
He admitted that at all times, but particularly at a critical time such as now, the call to serve comes with a huge responsibility, which elicits a clear direction and philosophy of leadership to act as guiding principle of conduct, behaviour and a roadmap for action.
The CDS vowed to emplace a homogeneous, highly motivated, disciplined and mission-ready AFN to deliver its constitutional roles and contribute its quota as a foremost national institution to facilitate national security, peace, stability and sustainable development of the nation.
He said as the Services begin a new phase, it is imperative to understand the basis of leadership and followership as well as the covenant of duty, responsibility and service to the nation.
“I envisage a knowledge-driven, skill-based, object-focused, fiscally responsible, systematic, creative, forward-looking, ethical and citizen-minded, conscientious and caring armed forces.
“I look forward to a defence organisation where personnel contribute on the basis of their knowledge, hard and soft skills as well as humane aptitudes,” he said
General Irabor pledged to lead by the finest examples that he will set to create the right tone for personnel motivation, active followership and consolidative leadership at all levels of the AFN.
The broad outline of my leadership focus shall be “To foster a Professional Armed Forces capable of effectively meeting constitutional imperatives”.
This broad focus shall be anchored on PEARL as tenets going forward. “I shall seek to build the AFN which is Professional, Effective, Agile, Result-oriented and Loyal to the constituted authority as emplaced by the Constitution (PEARL), in concept, shape and outlook,” he said
He said decision-making in the military will be a collective process of active participation, consultation and consideration in order to emplace a suitable security environment in the shortest possible time, “if we act collectively, decisively and clearly with passion, commitment, integrity and perseverance to achieve our aims and objectives.”
Despite setbacks in some Theaters of military operations, appreciable successes have been recorded against criminal elements of destabilisation.
“Domestically, I shall promote synergy and mission command as essential elements for operational planning and execution for all security challenges requiring military intervention across our dear nation. This is because no Service can do it alone and secondly, it is to enable disciplined initiative within any commander’s intent to empower agile and adaptive leadership in the conduct of joint operations.”
The ultimate purpose is to maximize relative combat power at any decisive point and time. I shall also promote active cooperation
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo while unveiling his vision and mission statement on assumption of office said, “ my goal is to leverage on all factors of national location, technology, training, teamwork and synergy to re-energise the Nigerian Navy and enhance her as a well-motivated and ready naval force in the discharge of her Constitutional mandate and other assigned tasks in fulfillment of national security objectives.”
Gambo who declared then that the men who succeed are the efficient few who have the ambition and will power to develop themselves. The highly exposed and and experienced CNS said his administration will focus on some key drivers in order to achieve its vision.
He pledged to ensure personnel welfare is accorded high priority towards enhanced patriotism, integrity, productivity, innovation, commitment and dedication.
He added that human capacity development will be accorded priority.
The CNS also stated that he will among other things optimise the deployment of the Nigerian Navy in the performance of her Constitutional roles and the undertaking of assigned tasks while promptly responding with commensurate actions to other emerging national security challenges”.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru who pointed out that the Army Nremains the engine room of national security said, given the state of security in the country at the time they came on board , it was clear that a lot of strides have been attained following their commitment to turn things around.
He said, we embarked on result –oriented strategies in order to turn things around and ensure crisis free nation. He said the military within the period under review had embarked on training and re-training of its officers and men to enable them fit into their plans, programmes and visions, with emphasis on productivity.
Attahiru said as part of efforts to boost operations, on assumption of his new position, he ordered the withdrawal of damaged/unserviceable equipment from the North East Theatre and purchase of spare parts for repairs.
He said this was in line with his vision to have “A Nigerian Army that is repositioned to professionally defeat all adversaries in a joint environment. He added that when they came on board, insecurity, hostility and other unimaginable security threats had loomed large but they had to stretch themselves to deal with the problem, which he believes would soon be won.
He promised that the Nigerian Army under his watch will remain resolute in decisively dealing with thrteats confronting the country. He added that the service will soon receive combat enablers that would help boost operations across the country.
The COAS directed that serious attention be given to sustaining and improving the tempo in all ongoing Nigerian Army operations across the country.
“As I speak, we will soon be receiving combat enablers that would enhance and boost our operations.
Concerted effort is also being made to eliminate the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) which has been a major impediment to troops and our operations in OPERATION LAFIYA DOLE. Again in order to increase our operational capabilities, I have approved the purchase of spare parts and directed that all damaged and unserviceable equipment in the theater be backloaded for immediate repairs,” he said
Gen Attahiru said his administration is determined to rebuild the fighting skills, capacity, confidence and morale of troops across the various theaters of operations.
“I will ensure that through functional training, officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army are equipped with the right competencies and skills to effectively undertake daring missions in addition to developing special operations forces.
“This would be closely followed by procurement that ensures appropriate kitting and provision of protective gear, weapons, equipment and platforms,” he said.
The COAS said the welfare of troops will also be given paramount attention.
“Let me remind you all that, while no effort will be spared in achieving these goals, it is command responsibility to ensure the sustenance and maintenance of all equipment while measures must be emplaced to ensure sound administration of troops and their families,” he added
He lauded officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army for their unrelenting sacrifice and efforts in ensuring that the Nigerian Army fulfils its constitutional responsibilities.
“I’ll continue to demand that you redouble your efforts so that we can decisively deal with our adversaries or any group or person that threatens the peace and stability of our great nation.”
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Oladayo Amao said the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and other sister security services have agreed to subordinate themselves to the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) under the leadership of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor.
He said just as it is obtainable in military organisations worldwide, the DHQ is responsible for the command and control of the entire Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) which also means that all ongoing joint operations and Joint Task Forces are directly subordinated to the DHQ, and their commanders report directly to the CDS.
Amao said the Service Chiefs have agreed to tow the new line as part of efforts to bring the various security challenges to an end.
‘When we say we are members of the AFN, we mean the 3 Services represent a single entity. When we accept the fact that we the members of the AFN constitute a united entity, the need for rivalry will not arise.’
Air Marshal Amao said his administration has resolved to revert to the military tradition of adhering to seniority and hierarchy in the appointment of officers to head command posts.
He said, ‘’Situations, where subordinate officers are given command appointments ahead of their seniors, does not augur well for the system as this breeds insubordination and discipline.’’
Speaking on discipline, Air Marshal Amao stated that there would be no sacred cows when it comes to discipline as those found wanting would be punished as ascribed in the Armed Forces Act.
He said the new platforms expected when fully operational would be deployed immediately to the theatres of operations and should hopefully be the game changers in all DHQ led operations nationwide.
To boost the morale of the fighting force, CAS assured that non-promotion of NAF personnel due to inability to attend courses that should enable their upgrading would be given special consideration as soon as they meet the criteria set for the promotion.
It is however interesting to note that their resolve has been tested with the attacks on military formations in Damasak, Marte, Ajiri and other locations in Borno State.
A security expert, Barnabas Ayito said he was impressed with the performance of the service chiefs whom he said used powerful idea generation tools like morphological analysis, quadrant crunching, cross impact matrix, nominal group technique, structured brainstorming, virtual brainstorming and star bursting. The high level risk mitigation tools in fighting the dreaded monsters of Boko Haram in the North East and other criminals in the North west, Southwest and South East regions.