Calls to sack service Chiefs: Buhari’s government should become responsive

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Plenary on the floor of the Senate took a dramatic turn on Tuesday as Lawmakers vehemently questioned why President Muhammadu Buhari should keep sitting as the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, if he cannot marshal the security architecture in the Country to protect lives and properties. The Vote of No-Confidence in Buhari’s inertia to secure Nigeria trails Saturday’s horrendous massacre of a number of rice farmers in Zabarmari District of Jere Local Government Area of Borno State. The Senate in its findings reported that against the 37 casualties which were reported, no less than 67 farmers were slaughtered in the massacre. Resolutions of the Senate on Tuesday anchored on a motion tagged, “Beheading of 67 Farmers in Borno by Boko Haram insurgents: Need for Urgent Decisive Action” which was sponsored by Senator representing Borno Central, All Progressives Congress (APC),  Kassim Shettima  and co-sponsored by 17 other Senators. According to the Senators, President Buhari has breached the 1999 Constitution as amended against the backdrop that he has failed to adhere to section 14(1) of 1999 Constitution which has to do with the government and the people as well as stipulates that the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a state based on the principles of democracy and Social Justice. The position of the Senate was that Nigeria as a nation cannot move forward until the lives of every Nigerian is protected and secured, with the premise that the primary objective of government is the provision of security and the protection of its citizens. The argument centred on the fact that protecting the lives and properties of citizens is the primary obligation of government and any government that falls short of this basic obligation loses every iota of legitimacy. The Senate which read riot act to the President, asked him to immediately sack the Service Chiefs and appoint fresh ones against the backdrop that the present Chiefs have lost their relevance and have nothing to offer on addressing the security challenges in the Country. The Lawmakers asked the President to immediately initiate a way of sacking the current service chiefs overdue for dismissal and replace them with new ones with new ideas and solutions. The Senate argued that it is high time, the Service Chiefs vacated their seats because they have outlived their usefulness. The Senate therefore called on President Buhari to take immediate steps to restructure, remodel and revamp the Country’s entire security architecture and provide enough state-of-the-art weapons and equipment to effectively combat the belligerent power of the insurgents. Presenting the motion, Senator Kashim Shettima who lamented the rice-farmers’ massacre; especially the information that the killings took place not too far away from the location of Nigeria security agencies, decried that it is disheartening “that more than 67 citizens were beheaded while they were working in their farmland without any form of resistance or challenge from the security stationed a few kilometre away.”

Against the slogan by the Presidency  that the insurgents have been technically defeated, Senator Shettima said the “Senate: Notes that Borno State has been the epicenter of the despicable activities of Boko Haram for over decade during which a conservative estimate of 40,000 people mostly unarmed civilians were brutally murdered, 2.5 million people displaced from their homes and farms, property worth trillions of naira wantonly destroyed and over 7 million people mostly women and children plunged into dire humanitarian needs; Notes also that the fight to control the border axis of the North-Eastern part of this country has claimed thousands of lives (Military and Civilian alike).”

According to Lawmaker, the Senate is “aware that over the weekend, Boko Haram insurgent members beheaded 67 farmers who had gone to a rice plantation at Kwashabe village in Zabarmari District of Jere Local Government Area, 20 kilometres north of Maiduguri, Borno State Capital to harvest ripe farm produce and destroyed the farm; observes that this attack is one of the major attacks perpetrated by this devilish group in addition to the February attack in Auno that killed 40 people, the assault in Foduma Koloram village of Gubio that killed almost 100 civilians in last June while another attack in Usman Lawanti left another 40 dead; Further observes that last month, Boko Haram fighters killed 22 farmers working on irrigation fields near Maiduguri in two separate incidents; further observes that the recent spike on deliberate, consistent and systematic targeting of herders, fishermen, loggers and now farmers will exacerbate the major food crisis in the North, lead an unprecedented surge in food prices across Nigeria and seriously damage our country’s economy.”

The time for the Presidency to come plain to table explanations before Nigerians on the worsening security matters in the Country, is no more than now. The prevailing inertia of the security operatives to deal with Insurgency and all other forms of security challenges bedevilling the Country, demands an open explanation. The row over the reverberating call for the sack of Service Chiefs has continued to brew winds of concerns, as clouds of thoughts keep gathering over the refusal of the President to yield to the calls. The rising state of security challenges across the Country has been the ground upon which campaigners of the call have premised their demands. It is no doubt that the profile of insecurity ranging from terrorism, banditry, to robbery and kidnapping among others, have not less subsided as expected. The profile in comparison to the promise of the present administration, appears to be largely irreconcilable.

It is essential that the President amidst the rising profile of insecurity, should address the call for the sack of military heads with civil approach. It is expected that leaving the public with no explanation of keeping the Service Chiefs while insecurity challenges continue to take deeper root, is undemocratic and leaves the choice open for rancours and clamours to abound. Such lacunas are clear avenue for popular grievances since the public are left with no explanation they can reason with.

The silence of the present administration on top national issues of serious concerns without convincing explanation, has continued to leave gaps brewing avoidable strings of disturbances in the polity. It is essential that the President cultivate the liberal character of civil-political communication to relate issues to the populace. The principle of openness remains key to democracy which the Country subscribes to. Operating  governance  in secrecy comes with effects, which themselves, create feelings of neglect among the populace. This, to a large extent, constitutes a source of suspicion which generates popular dissatisfaction.

A responsive government is one which relates appreciably with its constituents on matters of critical concerns. In a democracy, the Government by character is to report to the people it represents. A fallout from this principle is counterproductive to the tenets of democracy. While there may be reasons for keeping the Service Chiefs, the refusal to relate with the populace constructively is by and large a gap left for concerned citizens to react upon. The reports of gruesome terrorist attacks burns the heart to instigate responses from the masses who are  directly or indirectly affected. To show the sense of responsibility to the people it is governing, it is essential that the present administration turn to the democratic approach of constructive engagement with structured communication channels to the Nigerian masses. A resolve to keep to the prevailing modus operandi is capable of engendering gaps of disconnection between the  government and the people, with threats of national acrimonies and disturbances. Nigerians deserve explanation from the Presidency over the refusal to sack the existing Service Chiefs amidst continuous killings and massacre of citizens. The Presidency should rise up to show a sense of responsiveness to the worsening and sour state of security challenges in the Country.