Understanding Public Confidence in PMB on the Service Chiefs

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By David Onmeje

“For me, providing security for all residents in the country remains an article of faith…I plead with fellow compatriots to give our military and other security agencies more time, cooperation, and support by volunteering credible intelligence/information on activities of armed bandits, insurgents, and other criminal elements within their communities in order to put an end to this blight on our security landscape.”_–President Muhammadu Buhari’s Christmas day message to Nigerians.

I have tested leadership at miniature levels in Nigeria and I know, most times, leaders bear pains or the brunt of our evil actions silently. Some Nigerians are highly discontented people. The tendency to discolour or twist truth is one of our of greatest setbacks as a nation.

In our country, leaders often times face malicious criticisms. I have read severally and overtime, politicians, columnists and public affairs commentators, who against all good conscience brand President Muhammadu Buhari as a leader who is not in charge of affairs in Nigeria. Some even call him a figure head. But none of these comments bear any semblance of truth and those who delights in lampooning him also know this truth.

In the 2020 Christmas day message to Nigerians, President Buhari appealed to our conscience. He invited us to be partakers in obliterating the insecurity challenges which have engulfed the country. Indirectly, Mr. President counselled us not to be only campaigners and canvassers for the sack of the current of Service Chiefs; but rather support or assist them to succeed in this sensitive national assignment. We are invited by that presidential remark to also police our communities.

Strikingly, President Buhari told Nigerians the bare truth which most of us are more enchanted to repress by advocating for simplistic remedies to the challenges of the multiple insecurities in the country. However, we cannot run away from the truth forever and Mr. President will never flinch in telling us the truth.

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Let me quote an excerpt from the President’s message which has enticed me. He said; “To be sure, the problems are beyond the simplistic options being bandied around. We shall remain focused on following the complex, multi-dimensional route to reducing the incidents of insecurity to the barest minimum.”

No doubt, President Buhari has unwavering commitment in securing the lives and property of Nigerians. He feels the agonies and psychological torture of anyone of us who falls a victim of the organized armed criminal gangsterism against the country.

But securing Nigeria is not the singular duty of anybody or persons. It is not the business of communities alone and it is not the burden of security agents alone as others have erroneously reasoned. It is our collective responsibility. We can contribute in the smallest of ways to assist in securing our country and it would have great impacts.

But the generality of us often ignores it. We hardly think about it. We think it is the duty of that unformed man or woman alone. We believe it is only Mr. President or the Service Chiefs who have the onerous task of securing us. That’s why we often perceive them as failing on security; but unfortunately exclude ourselves from the failure. But if they fail on security, we have all failed as a people and a nation. If they succeed, it is our collective glory and happiness.

We have seen the tireless efforts Mr. President is making to secure Nigeria. We are not oblivious to the sacrifices of Service Chiefs and troops in defending Nigerians. The ongoing efforts of the Buhari Presidency to continue to sustain the fire on criminal elements and terrorists that are hellbent to destabilize the country are in public domain. These are verifiable issues.

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Sadly though, we are more enthusiastic in politicizing issues of national security. Some people come out in public space to claim they would have performed better had they been in the position of Mr. President or the Service Chiefs. That’s a farce! We started experiencing the rising insecurity in Nigeria, particularly, Boko Haram terrorism for over a decade before Buhari was elected President. But it rather bloomed. We cannot continue to manipulate facts and dribble ourselves.

It is my conviction that anyone is at liberty to fault President President Buhari on everything; but certainly not when it comes to managing the insecurities in the country. I stand with President Buhari on this score; our President deserves support from all of us; not vilification. He is to be encouraged rather than the mindlessly ferocious attacks on him or his security team.

Both local and international experts have all rated President Buhari’s strategies on containing insecurities as topnotch. I know it is only a few disgruntled elements, who are vociferous that Mr. President has not performed to their expectations.

The world is ashamed of us! The world is laughing at us for deliberately inflicting this pain on our country. In my reflective moments, I wonder how anyone thinks President Buhari or any leader at all can solve all the problems of insecurity in Nigeria at the superfluous rate we bolster it.

How is it possible is our security guaranteed, when the minute we think, the country is winning the war against Boko Haram, the satanic kingpins are busy arming bandits, kidnappers and other criminal gangs massively to destabilize another region? Some people against all reasonable conscience are sponsoring terrorists in the Southeast. What magic do they want from President Buhari, if we must tell ourselves the truth?

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In any case, I believe, the President as a strategist and expert on security has his cards in the kitty. I am confident that he will defeat the dissidents after Nigeria. He is prepared to work with the Service Chiefs he has honed and, the top Military officers who have fully dissected the situation in the country. Mr. President understands it perfectly that all the Service Chiefs are armed with the necessary knowledge or weapons and have what is needed to extinguish the insecurity crisis in our nation.

So, in Mr. President’s Christmas message to Nigerians, he solicited for more time for the Service Chiefs and the other security agencies to do their job. Mr. President was right in all nuances. I stand with President Buhari. Therefore, let’s give our Service Chiefs a chance just like Mr. President has pleaded. And we will all win the war together as one nation.

President Buhari, the Service Chiefs and the other security agencies deserve a chance to concentrate and not all the distractions we find today heaped on them. Like President said, security “…formed a vital segment of this administration’s three-point agenda right from inception, and we must follow through with it.”

Onmeje is the author of the book, “The Man Kyari” and wrote this piece from London.

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