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Buhari to sack non-performing defence, security chiefs over insecurity, says “I’m not ready to exit government as a failure”

President Muhammadu Buhari rose from his meeting on Thursday with the nation’s defence and security leaders, warning them to sit up or be changed, saying he is not prepared to leave office in May 29, 2023 as a failure who could not secure Nigeria and its citizens.

The President, who hosted the National Security Council meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, demanded a turnaround in the fortunes of the country in the various theatres of operation in the ongoing war against insecurity. 

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), told journalists at the end of the meeting that President Buhari expressed his readiness to make more changes in Nigeria’s security architecture if that would give peace and security to the citizens.

General Monguno, who stated that the meeting briefed the President on the successes recorded in the operations in Northeast Nigeria against the Boko Haram/Islamic State in West africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists, noted that “never had such large numbers leave the terrorist camp, owing to the relentless activity of the security agencies.”

The NSA, who stated that there is good cooperation, synergy and intelligence-sharing among the Armed Forces of Nigeria, said President Buhari was happy with the briefings he received. 

According to Monguno, “the last National Security Council meeting we had was on the 8th of June. From that time till now, a lot has happened within the security domain. Mr. President called for this meeting. And it was actually supposed to be for next week but he drew it back for today for obvious reasons. 

“The meeting briefed, Mr. President, on the current security situation in the country. Well, I’ll say from the last time we met till now, and all the issues that were brought before the President, were mainly issues arising from the successes recorded in the theatre of operations throughout the Northeast. 

“It is evident that a lot of successes have been recorded. Large numbers of people are surrendering in the Northeast as a consequence of the relentless efforts of the Armed Forces, intelligence and security agencies. This is very, very evident. We’ve never had such large numbers of people defecting from the other side, back to the Nigerian side, mainly, as a result of many issues within the theatre, issues of infighting among the various factions of the terrorist groups. 

“But the new drive of the Armed Forces, the Police, the intelligence agencies. There’s been greatest cooperation, greater synergy intelligence sharing, as well as our partners in the regional intelligence fusion unit. 

“So, the President was briefed. The President is quite happy that there’s been tremendous success, especially with the advent of the new Service Chiefs and Inspector General of Police. And he’s also made it very, very clear that he’s not ready to exit government as a failure. He is not going to tolerate failure and that he’s made changes and is ready to make further changes if he is not satisfied. He is completely determined to ensure that there’s a turnaround in the fortunes in the theatre of operations. 

“We also addressed the issue of the prevailing situation, which is widespread, you know, issues of hunger. The President is not oblivious to the pains of the people, and is working with the Vice President and other members of Council, is going to employ the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government to address this issue. As far as it’s concerned, it’s also an emergency situation that people should not be left to wallow in hunger and in despair. This is something that he’s also going to look into. And he’s going to use all the necessary, all the relevant tools at his disposal to address the issue of widespread hunger. 

“And then also the issue of insecurity in the Northwest, which is still, even though for those of us who are within the security system, we have seen a significant drop in the number of incidents of kidnapping and banditry. Nevertheless, a lot has to be done. Because, like I’ve always said in the past, as far as the people are concerned, there shouldn’t be any incident of kidnapping, banditry, and other incidents of insecurity. 

“So the President is also aware of that and he has also made certain assertions which I am not willing to say right now, till he’s made the final decision on those things. But generally, the atmosphere is improving, especially in the North Eastern part of the country. The President is very, very happy with the drive in that part of the country. 

“We also addressed the issue in Plateau (State), the recent killings and the President has given certain directives to address that. He also expressed confidence in the efforts of the Governor of Plateau.” 

On the surrendering Boko Haram members, the NSA said: “Yes, there are plans. But I don’t want to immediately divulge what has been decided on those plans till the President takes a firm decision on the plans. But definitely, that is one of the things that he intends to address, the number of people coming. And it’s not just in Nigeria. Even in Northern Cameroon, you have equally large numbers of people surrendering to the bonafide agencies of government. But that is all as a consequence of the regional cooperation between the various countries and the agencies of those countries.”

On what to expect going forward from the national security architecture, Monguno said: “Well, what I expect is for the Nigerian people also to forge a sense of oneness, unity, let’s put aside whatever suspicions, apprehensions or agitations that exists, because in the context of the 21st century, you can’t deal with these emerging crisis in a cut and dried manner. We have to use everything at our disposal, all the elements of national power, including the population. The wider community needs to work with the security agencies to deal with these problems. 

“Responses has to be fast. We can’t act on stale intelligence. And that is why as things are happening, right from the grassroots level going all the way up, the Local Government, the State governments, and then of course, the Federal Government, has its own parts to play. People should not cover for those who they have identified, unscrupulous, undesirable people. It is very very important that we share because in today’s context, the highest value intelligence doesn’t necessarily need to come from the agencies of government.  It could come from any other tangential organisation, institution or group.”

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