President Muhammadu Buhari has told service chiefs that they have just a few weeks to restore security in the country.
Speaking after decorating them with their new ranks at a ceremony in the presidential villa, Abuja on Friday, he charged military top brass to speed up their actions in freeing the country from the current state of insecurity.
The president said: “During our four-hour security meeting, on Tuesday, I had taken the responsibility as Commander-in-Chief for you to go out into the field and secure the country.
“You have got a few weeks to do that because by the rainy season, we expect people to develop confidence and go back to the land so that we don’t get into trouble by being away from the field and therefore unable to produce enough food for the nation.”
He told the service chiefs to see their appointment, clearance and decoration as a vote of confidence on them.
The president further said: “For those (of you) that have been confirmed by this ceremony, the decoration, in front of your spouses, is a further confidence loudly expressed on you on behalf of the nation, to respond to the insecurity the country is in, and the nation looks up to you for rapid relief.”
He assured them of his firm support as they deliver on their responsibilities.
“I have accepted responsibility for your actions in the field; it’s up to you to identify your competent officers irrespective of seniority and paper qualification and deploy them to make sure that we secure this country.
Speaking further, Buhari said: “We all look forward to you to perform and I as the Commander-in-Chief, I am backing you 100 per cent, and I expect you to effectively deploy your officers and men to secure the country.”
Responding on behalf of the other service chiefs, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor assured the President that they will not fail in their responsibilities as the mandate is clear.
“Nigeria will have peace again. Based on the mandate, we will address all issues, working with all other security organisations,” he said.
Others decorated are Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru as Chief of Army Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo as Chief of Naval Staff and Air Marshal Isiaka Amao as Chief of Air Staff.
Speaking to correspondents after the ceremony, the CDS affirmed that Nigerians cannot continue to live in fear.
Asked what is the next step for the military, he said: “I’m glad you talk about the next big step. Nigerians expect us to bring about peace and security in concert with other security agencies. That we will do. We can’t live in fear. And we will ensure that whatever brings fear to Nigerians before now will be a thing of the past.”
While noting that he would not disclose what he called “the trump card” going forward, Irabor said he would not give orders to the military that he himself would not obey.
“I will rather say what we will not do. What we will not do is to give instructions to our subordinates and not do the same. By extension, we will command the troops based on the expectations that we have of them and they will do it according to the expectations that we have of them too.”
He added: “Strategies are not sacrosanct. Of course, there are dynamics that we need to begin to look at, what needs to be reviewed, and that is precisely what we are doing currently. And we review various strategies and of course come up with new ones to be able to meet the demands of the current realities.”
Also speaking on the expectation for the military to achieve concrete results in the next few weeks, the CDS, noted: “That is a matching order that Mr President has given to us and we will work assiduously to achieve that,” adding: “No doubt, next 100 days is not as important as today.
“I believe that as members of the Armed Forces working in concert with the rest of the security agencies, we will bring Mr President’s expectations to bear in terms of our task. But let me also let you know that the inevitable is that Nigerians will indeed experience peace and security across the land.”
When asked about the role the Nigerian military played in the recent negotiations that led to the release of the school children from their abductors, General Irabor explained: “Peace and security is not just the security of the borders alone. It comes with having to build bridges across various divides.
“We as members of the Armed Forces will never in any way demand peace and security of our nation in the hands of the terrorists. Rather, it is we that will determine the peace and not for us to live it in the hands of the terrorists.”
The decoration ceremony was witnessed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN); the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha; Defense Minister, Major-General Bashir Magashi (Rtd); and the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.
The new service chiefs were accompanied to the presidential by their wives and other senior officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
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