Reps set agenda for new service chiefs

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Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

Some committees of the House of Representatives on security have set their agenda for the new service chiefs, stating that the growing security crises in Nigeria must be addressed as soon as possible.

Leaders of the committees, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, stated that when the National Assembly confirms the appointments, the new service chiefs must deploy new initiatives to address the issues inherited from their predecessors.

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The Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Mr Babajimi Benson, however, pointed out that the appointments must be confirmed by the National Assembly before they could become substantive service chiefs.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had on January 26, 2021, called for the resignation of the former service chiefs and appointed a new Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor; Chief of Army Staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral A.Z Gambo, and Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao.

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Benson said, “First, we are going to screen them. There is no assurance that they are service chiefs yet until they are screened and they pass. That is the first hurdle. They need to satisfy the National Assembly – the Senate and the House of Reps – that they are fit and prepared to assume the roles. It is a condition precedent to their being made substantive service chiefs.

“Once they scale that hurdle, we need to get a KPI – Key Performance Indicator – on how soon they will bring this insurgency to a logical end. They need to give us the assurance that it can be done in the shortest possible time.

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“There are other issues: they need to collaborate with other security agencies to eradicate kidnapping, banditry, militancy and other scourge. They also need to make Nigerians feel safe again. Without security, the much expected foreign direct investments will elude us.”

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When asked if the House could set a target for the service chief to address the security crises, Benson stated, “It is not possible because there is insurgency in every part of the world. We cannot tell them to end it within three months. That is the sad reality. If we set a target, there is no guarantee that they can attain it.”

Also, the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Mr Adejoro Adeogun, among other things, decried the role of non-state actors in the security crises.

Adeogun said, “We expect the new service chiefs to immediately review the situation they inherited in terms of the war against insurgency in the North-East, activities of bandits in the North-West and growing influence of non-state actors in the unending conflicts between herdsmen and farmers.

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“We hope that the new service chiefs would set to work, drawing up new threat containment plans to make the military more proactive.

“We further hope that immediate steps are taken to enhance more robust synergy and collaboration between the different arms of military and law enforcement agencies

“We equally expect the new chiefs to take urgent steps to address issues of welfare in terms of accommodation, training, non-regular allowances, field dry rations and other areas that may have eroded the morale of the troops. Finally, we expect improved military/civil relations and more respect for the human rights of Nigerians.”

Earlier, the House had said the new services chiefs would remain in acting capacity until the parliament confirms their appointments.

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