Retired generals on Monday set an agenda for the new service chiefs on how they can overcome the security challenges confronting the country.
Speaking against the backdrop of the insurgency in the North-East, banditry in the North-West and other criminal activities and killings across the country, the former military officers admonished the security chiefs to study their predecessors and improve on their weaknesses.
The ex-servicemen handed down the advice hours after the security chiefs held a meeting with President Bola Tinubu at the Presidential Villa where he charged them to work with the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu and the acting Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, as a team to address insecurity.
Monday’s meeting was Tinubu’s first known in-person engagement with the security heads since their appointment on June 19.
They include the Chief of Defence Staff, Maj. Gen. C.G Musa; Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. T. A Lagbaja; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral E. A Ogalla; Chief of Air Staff, AVM H.B. Abubakar; the Chief of Defense Intelligence, Maj. Gen. EPA Undiandeye and the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun.
Tinubu assured them of his 100 per cent support, considering the enormity of the work expected of them.
“He told us that we must work as a team and that there’s work to be done,” Ribadu told State House Correspondents after a closed-door meeting with the President and Service Chiefs.
Tinubu was repeating a similar directive he gave to the immediate past Service Chiefs on June 1, where he declared that he would not condone them working at cross purposes.
Revealing what transpired at the meeting, the NSA said, “He (Tinubu) gave us the assurance that he’s with us hundred per cent.
“He told us that we must work as a team and that there’s work to be done, he’ll expect us to deliver and we’re grateful for the opportunity. That’s why we are here.”
According to Ribadu, episodes of insecurity have declined nationwide in the past few weeks and would remain so as the security chiefs get to work.
“You can see already things are improving in our country. If you see, the record of crimes and activities of criminals are going down. It will continue to go down. We’ll secure this place.
“Nigerians have seen the quality of the people that are given the opportunity, they are probably some of the best we have and they are not going to fail you; they’ll certainly deliver,” he said.
The NSA said the security helmsmen were at the Aso Villa to thank the President for the opportunity to serve the country in his administration. Therefore, he promised to work tirelessly to give Nigerians their lives back.
“We also pledged our loyalty to him, Nigeria and Nigerians.We believe the choice he made is the right one, the correct one, and we know what he wants for this country.
“We’re going to work tirelessly to ensure that we accomplish that objective of securing our country, establishing peace and stability and let’s get our lives back,” Ribadu added.
Need to cooperate
Retired Brigadier General Bashir Adewinibi advised the service chiefs to consolidate on the achievements of their predecessors and improve in areas where there were lapses.
He said, “I will advise them to consolidate on the achievements of their predecessors. There is no doubt about the records of the immediate past service chiefs, they did well in the ongoing fight against terrorism and other forms of criminalities in the country.
‘’They should X-ray their activities and they must consolidate what needs to be consolidated, improve on where they think needs improvement, and ensure they improve on where there are lapses. Doing this would make the security of the country effective and efficient. “
Similarly, Brigadier General Peter Aro (retd,) urged the new service chiefs to work as a team.
He also advised that the services chiefs should be given a free hand to execute their plans without interference.
Aro noted, “I want to commend the president for putting a round peg in a round hole. The officers he chose are seasoned and crack officers and they know their onions. They should have what we call jointness; by this they should be committed to integrated planning and their execution should be coordinated so as to have good operational output.
“As God will have it, the three service chiefs are course mates; this is going to work well in their favour. Let us not forget that primarily, internal security is the responsibility of the Nigeria Police, it is only when the military is called on through the president that they intervene.’’
Speaking further, the retired general added, ‘’I know the service chiefs, they are seasoned. They know what to do and there won’t be sentiment, they would tackle matters the right way if they are given a free hand to operate. Sometimes politicians can be very funny, they might say something they don’t mean to put pressure on them. But I know these people, they are rugged officers. They would rather prefer to put their uniforms down than to compromise.”
Speaking recently on the tasks ahead of the service chiefs, Major General Anthony Atolagbe said they should be receptive to ideas while surrounding themselves with constructive strategists.
He said, “It will be nice for the system to give equal opportunities to their juniors. Their juniors may even criticize them. They should take it in good faith and see how they can address the issues, especially if the criticism contains some elements of good reasoning. The officers under their commands also need a lot of international exposure.
‘’When they go out, they learn a lot of ideas from other militaries and the places they are working and they are able to bring some of these ideas to bear to improve our own system.
‘’This is something I have benefited so much from to the extent that I can speak on almost every aspect of military undertakings in combat, peace-keeping and any field of research. Currently, I consult for the African Union part time in some areas of security sector reform, review of African stand-by force and so on. The exposure I have is giving me that ability to do some work.’’
A retired Commissioner of Police, Emmanuel Ojukwu said he was optimistic that the newly-appointed security chiefs would help the nation in surmounting its security challenges.
“Although the issue of insecurity is enormous, but I believe that the new security chiefs will be able to turn the table around against insurgency and sundry crimes,” Ojukwu said.