The leading opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Thursday called for the immediate sack of the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd), for abdicating his statutory duties.
The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said that by asking unarmed Nigerians to defend themselves against armed aggression by bandits and terrorists, the Minister has failed in his duties and therefore must be immediately sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari.
General Magashi had on Wednesday at the National Assembly during the screening of the Chief of Defence Staff and Service Chiefs, asked Nigerians to summon the courage and stand up to the gunmen wreaking havoc across the country.
The Defence Minister said Nigerians have the responsibility to ensure there is adequate security around them.
PDP describes the statement by the Minister “as reckless, irresponsible and a confirmation that the Buhari administration has surrendered to outlaws and has no determination to fight them.
“It is unthinkable that a government would describe unarmed victims of armed aggression of terrorist and bandits as “cowards” while those who were elected and given the necessary resources to defend them recede in the comfort and safety of their offices in Abuja.
“Such disposition to security; a statutory responsibility of government, goes to validate apprehensions that our nation is indeed descending to a failed state under the Buhari Presidency, where the government can no longer perform its duties while unarmed citizens are left to confront bandits and warlords.
“Given the silence by the Buhari Presidency, our party holds that the defeatist comment by the minister represents the disposition of President Muhammadu Buhari and his security architecture, and explains why the administration has remained complacent in the fight against terrorism and banditry in our country.
“Such statements by the Buhari administration, at the time it ought to be scaling up its security strategies to guarantee the safety of all Nigerians, have been emboldening bandits, terrorists and kidnappers to escalate their acts atrocities against our compatriots.
“Moreover, with such disposition, the Buhari administration is creating a lucrative job for bandits, terrorists and kidnappers, who are settled with huge ransom instead of being faced with firepower.
“Our party however urges Nigerians not to despair at this moment but brace up as it has become obvious that we are now in a despondent situation where the government has shown that it can no longer defend the citizens”.
General Magashi had stated: “Well, is it the responsibility of the military alone? It is the responsibility of everybody to be alert and ensure safety when necessary.
“We shouldn’t be cowards. Sometimes the bandits come with about three rounds of ammunition and when they fire shots, everybody will run. In our younger days, we stand to fight any form of aggression.
“Why should people run away from minor aggressions? We should stand and face them. If these people know that the people have the competence and capability to defend themselves, they will run away.”