From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Conference of Nigerian Elders (CONES) has warned that the insecurity situation in the country would cost President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) the 2023 elections.
The group, in a statement, yesterday, by its representatives, Tunde Banjo, Achike Nwachukwu and four others, said security of lives and property was deteriorating daily and expressed shock over Buhari’s refusal to relieve the service chiefs of their appointments and rejig the security apparatchik.
The group said the security heads were not indispensable, regretting that their inability to contain insecurity since their appointments had portrayed the Federal Government in bad light.
“We wish to say it is not normal for a whole country to be speaking with one voice that the service chiefs should not only be sacked, but also that the entire security architecture be rejigged, and Mr. President would remain adamant and less concerned.
“Nigerians are tired of the alarming insecurity in the country and the seeming inaction of Mr. President in addressing the situation.
“Those responsible for action or inaction which has heightened the insecurity must go and new and effective hands injected into the system.
“CONES wishes to appeal to President Buhari to, to as a matter of urgency, sack the current service chiefs without further delay.
“Our position is because we have seen that the president may lose the support of Nigerians over the embarrassing security situation we are facing if he doesn’t act fast enough. No part of Nigeria is safe today,” he said.
While acknowledging that President Buhari gets daily briefings on the security situation in the country by the security heads, the elders claimed that “most of those reports are not true reflections of the situation on ground. Already, there is low morale in the military over the continued stay of the service chiefs whose tenures in their various offices have since lapsed.
“Who knows if there are invisible hands out there in the service frustrating the fight against insurgency and insecurity in the country deliberately due to the continued stay of the service chiefs?
“We appeal to the president to hearken to the call by majority of Nigerians as reflected in the country’s parliament recently that it is time for him to do the needful.
“We are in a democracy where any decision of government or leaders is taken from the popular view. Majority of Nigerians have since spoken in this regard and as a democrat, our president should listen,” he said.
However, the Defence headquarters (DHQ), yesterday, said the armed forces have checkmated Boko Haram and their operations in the North East.
Despite claims that the insurgents have been decimated, some parts of the North East still come under attack.
One of the most recent violent attacks by Boko Haram was at Zabarmari in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State where more than 40 farmers were killed.
In an interview with newsmen, Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, John Enenche, said the Federal Government and the military since 2015 had checked the intensity of terrorist activities across the country, particularly in the North East.
He said the initial delay in tackling the menace made it gain momentum — Boko Haram taking over territories and setting up administrative structures — before they were knocked off in 2016.
Enenche said the open display of power and authority by Boko Haram no longer happens in the North East, and that no single district or community could be said to be under the control of the insurgents.
“The issue of bombings that spread to other places like Abuja, Kano, Niger and Kogi states, including their slipper cells, no longer exist.
“What about suicide bombing, which is one of the signs of terrorism? It was rife and even at our checkpoints, they come and detonate bombs as well as public gatherings; all these have been nipped properly.
“If you put all these together, I can tell you terrorism has been checkmated. However, the signs are still there with isolated actions here and there; common with terrorism,” he said.
Enenche said history has shown that terrorism “is a very resilient type of enemy activity,” adding that the type of terrorism in Nigeria is not “a smart one,” but rooted in the state of mind of a group of people.