From Tony John, Port Harcourt
The military, yesterday, as read the riots act to individuals and groups threatening to destabilise the corporate existence of Nigeria to drop their plans or face the firepower of security forces.
This followed the rising seccessionist agitation in some parts of the country, spearheaded by leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kalu in the South East, Sunday Igboho in the South West, Asari Dokubo in the South South and insurgents bandits group in the north.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. -Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru spoke at the first Commanding Officers’ Workshop 2021 in Uyo, Akwa Ibom.
The army chief while calling on participants to commit and rededicate themselves to the dictates of their constitutional mandate to the nation promised to provide mission-oriented training through workshops and build capacity for the military that would make the army dependable and feared by all adversaries.
“The Nigerian Army under my leadership would remain proactive and jointly work with other security agencies to decisively deal with threats facing the nation.
“The Nigerian Army under my watch remains resolute and is poised more than ever before to decisively deal with individuals or groups that threaten the peace, security and stability of our great nation.”
In his address , Akwa Ibom Governor Udom Emmanuel, represented by his deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo, called on the military to intensify and expand their strategies, techniques and tactics needed to contain insecurity ravaging most parts of the country, saying the security challenges confronting the nation called for a military that was ready and equipped to face the problems.
He commended the military and the various security agencies in the state for the synergy and harmonious working relationship among them which he said had brought about relative peace in the state and promised to support them at all times.
However, Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike, has urged the COAS to make a difference and stop Army involvement in politics.
Governor Wike said such call has become imperative owing to the despicable role played by the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, who was not only grossly partisan, but encouraged other Army officers to become political collaborators.
The governor gave the charge when he received the army chief who visited him at Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
He said such political involvement saw the Army attempting to upturn the mandate of Rivers people during the last general elections.
Wike stated: “We know that with the kind of experience you have, and with your level of education, the difference will be clear. Let me use this opportunity to say there is a need for you to make a difference, to bring back the respect Nigerians use to have for the Armed forces.
“In those days, when you see a solider, you run; these days, it is difficult because soilders have been exposed to politics. I want you to make a difference, to say your interest is to protect Nigerians; to fight bandits, to fight insurgency and not to carry ballot boxes.
“It was a big shame, what happened in 2019, in this State. I am sure you must have watched it on television. I am sure you must have watched where the 6 Division turned to INEC office with ballot papers everywhere’.
Governor Wike also challenged the Chief of Army Staff to be more patriotic to the country and stop the role the Army and other security agencies play in encouraging nonperformance by elected political office holders.
He said, if politicians know that solders and police officers will not be contracted to rig elections for them, they would be more responsive to the electorate because their votes will count.
He said: “Election in Nigeria is no longer determined by performance. It is determined by you being connected to security agencies and INEC. If it was based on performance, you’ll see most politicians will change. If you don’t perform, they will vote you out”.
Speaking further, Governor Wike acknowledged that the new Chief of Army Staff has started off his assignment well, which has begun restoring public confidence in the Army.
Governor Wike harped on the need for the withdrawal of Army officers drafted as security personnel to guide politicians because it has reduced the number of officers available to protect the sovereignty of the country.
He said: “I believe you will show difference that you are not here for politician. You’re here to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria. From the little you have done since you came, we are beginning to see difference. But, don’t change”.
The governor urged COAS to continue on the path of professionalism, commit to fighting cultists, insurgents and all criminality to ensure that Nigeria is safe.
Wike reiterated that he would never tolerate any secessionist group that wants to use the State as base for its nefarious activities.