Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff, has said Nigerians should not push President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the service chiefs.
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Buratai stated this in an interview on Tuesday in response to calls by Nigerians, particularly the House of Representatives, to President Buhari to dismiss the current service chiefs and appoint new ones due to the rising rate of insecurity in the country.
The calls steemed due to the intensity of attacks by terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, Ansaru militants and increased kidnappings across Nigeria.
But Buratai said while he will not question the National Assembly over their resolutions, he stated that the firing of the service chiefs will not necessarily resolve the security crisis.
“We are not questioning the wisdom of the national assembly. I believe they also have their sources of information; they drew their analysis and came to that conclusion. But in reality, they have to look at it within the context of what are the responsibilities of the executive arm of government, as well as the mandate of the legislative arm of government,” Buratai told TheCable and ThisDay.
“I am tempted not to comment on this particular issue because I am directly involved. However, I want to believe that whatever happens, the commander-in-chief is the right arbiter, and he knows where it pinches, he knows where the problems are. I think the decision should be left to him. He should not be pushed or prompted in this regard.
“However, the issue I see is not with the service chiefs because they are not thinking about the service chiefs as I want to believe because we are leading troops, deploying equipment in the quest to safeguard our territorial integrity. In that sense, if the members of the national assembly have been to the Theatre of Operations to witness the efforts that have been taking place and with casualties recorded, I think they should look at what role have they played to resolve the issue because it is not just military action alone, but an activity that requires the participation of every segment of the society.”
The army chief insisted that contrary to the thoughts of Nigerians that the emergence of Boko Haram in 2009 was the start of the crisis, the insurgency has bedevilled the country for over 30 years, making it impossible for the problem to be resolved swiftly.
He stated that the challenges faced by the troops are enormous and that only President Buhari as the commander-in-chief understands the problems involved.
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He added that he is not against any change in the military hierarchy but noted that the reasons adduced by the advocates of change are not justifiable.
“The whole of government approach in solving insurgency is indeed relevant because countries that have experienced such insurgency have been contending with it for as many as 50 years and so on. So no one is averse to change, and we are ready for any change as well. But the excuses that have been given as regards what is on the ground I believe are not tenable. I am not joining words with anybody, but that is the reality on the ground, and I expect that they should send words of encouragement to the troops and everybody because you can’t divorce what has been done on the field from the commanders who are deployed in the headquarters.
“The most important thing is that the challenges are quite enormous, and the troops are facing them daily. If there were no actions despite all the challenges in the resurgence not only in the north-east but across the country, if there was no responsiveness to tackle the terrorists, then one can say yes, there is a leadership challenge because the leaders are not meeting up with their responsibilities. I recall that I did mention in one of my interviews that the issue is far beyond the equipment and the number of troops,” Buratai said.
The army chief also insisted that “no change” has occurred in the fight against the terrorists since the army captured “Camp Zero” and presented the Boko Haram flag at the camp to President Buhari.
He explained that asymmetric warfare is far different from conventional warfare as the terrorists are consistently forced to revise their tactics after being forced out of an area, but noted that the army is building up its intelligence capabilities in order to neutralise them.
“Tactics and operational acts are not a straight-jacketed approach that you would hit one place and call it off, and that is the end. You must continue to move into more areas and locations and just like what is happening in the Middle East and so on. They continue to move around, and at any point in time, you see them reassembling and coming back to their enclaves and so on. This is the complexity of the overall operations.
“The regular intelligence is needed; the routine clearance is also required and, most importantly, is the issue of intelligence which we are working very hard to get them resolved,” Buratai said.