From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari decorated the nation’s new service chiefs.
The decoration which held inside Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja came after the two chambers of the National Assembly had confirmed the service chiefs’ nominations.
Those decorated in the new ranks include the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, Lieutenant-General Ibrahim Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff; Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu, Chief of Naval Staff; and Air Marshal Ishiaka Oladayo Amoo, Chief of Air Staff.
The decoration ceremony was witnessed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN); the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha; Defense Minister, Major-General Bashir Magashi (Rtd); and the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.
The new service chiefs were accompanied to the State House by their wives and other senior officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Buhari shortly after decorating service chiefs that he expects them to secure the country before the rainy season to the level that farmers who had fled their farms in different parts of Nigeria would have developed enough confidence to return to their farms.
He directed them to identify competent officers and deploy them appropriately to achieve the target.
Buhari said, “During our four-hour security meeting, I have taken the responsibility as the Commander-in-Chief for you to go out into the field and secure the country.
“I have accepted responsibility for your action on the field. It is up to you to identify your competent officers irrespective of seniority and paper qualification and deploy them to make sure that we secure this country.
“You have got a few weeks to do that because by the rainy season, we expect people to develop confidence and go back to the land so that we don’t get into trouble by being away from the field and therefore unable to produce enough food for the nation.”
Speaking to State House Correspondents after the ceremony, the CDS, Irabor stressed that Nigerians cannot continue to live in fear.
Asked what is the next step for the military, he said: “I’m glad you talk about the next big step. Nigerians expect us to bring about peace and security in concert with other security agencies. That we will do. We can’t live in fear. And we will ensure that whatever brings fear to Nigerians before now will be a thing of the past.”
While noting that he would not disclose what he called “the trump card” going forward, Irabor said he would not give orders to military that himself would not obey.
“I will rather say what we will not do. What we will not do is to give instructions to our subordinates and not do the same. By extension, we will command the troops based on the expectations that we have of them and they will do it according to the expectations that we have of them too.”
He added: “Strategies are not sancrosant. Of course, there are dynamics that we need to begin to look at, what needs to be reviewed, and that is precisely what we are doing currently. And we review various strategies and of course come up with new ones to be able to meet the demands of the current realities.”
On the expectation for the military to achieve concrete results in the next few weeks, the CDS, said: “That is a matching order that Mr President has given to us and we will work assiduosly to achieve that,” adding: “No doubt, next 100 days is not as important as today.
“I believe that as members of the Armed Forces working in concert with the rest of the security agencies, we will bring Mr President’s expectations to bear in terms of our task. But let me also let you know that the inevitable is that Nigerians will indeed experience peace and security across the land.”
When asked about the role the Nigerian military played in the recent negotiations that led to the release of the school children from their abductors, General Irabor explained: “Peace and security is not just the security of the borders alone. It comes with having to build bridges across various divides.
“We as members of the Armed Forces will never in any way demand peace and security of our nation in the hands of the terrorists. Rather, it is we that will determine the peace and not for us to live it in the hands of the terrorists.”