Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has berated the performance of services chiefs, saying that in spite of their best efforts to tackle insecurity in the country, their best is not good enough.
The president declared that he would no longer tolerate excuses, adding that he expects the heads of the armed forces to live up to expectations going forward.
Buhari gave this directive at a meeting with the service chiefs on Thursday.
Addressing State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting, National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj Gen Babagana Mungonu (retd), said that the president ordered him to meet with the governors of all northern states including Niger State, in other to identify the security challenges of the region and find solutions.
The president also expressed his displeasure over the lack of synergy amongst the armed forces and charged them to work together to solve the country’s security challenges.
Buhari reminded the service chiefs that he appointed them into their positions based on their track records, charging them to justify their appointments.
Mungonu stated to State House Correspondents:
‘A meeting was just concluded between Mr President and heads of the security agencies, that is the operational heads consisting Minister of Defence, the service chiefs and on the other hand, the intelligence components that is consisting of myself and the intelligence heads.
‘Today’s meeting basically focused on recent developments. Mr President has expressed great concern over the declining security situation in the country. He is extremely unhappy about what is happening and he feels that, even though the security agencies are doing their best, their best is not good enough for him and wants an immediate reversal of the current trend and an immediate reversal of our misfortunes in all their dimensions.
‘Mr President also told us clearly in no uncertain terms, that he and indeed the administration campaigned to power on the platform of three issues, fighting insecurity, overcoming our economic difficulties and dealing with the scourge of corruption. More so, he noted that it takes common sense for anyone to understand that without security, the pursuit of the other two will just be an exercise in futility.
‘He, therefore, warns the security agencies to take into consideration the wider implication of the gradual descent of the security of this country, he is not going to accept any further escalation of the security situation.
‘He also stated, that no one was forced on him, he selected everyone individually based on what he feels their records had revealed and therefore, it is up to individual Organisation to live up to the expectations.
‘Again, Mr President has also said that it is extremely important that we in the security agencies, must ensure that we justify the leadership by not disappointing the populace.
‘He also pointed out the immediate areas of concern and these areas are also interlinked and we must find a way out, especially the issue of proliferation of drugs, small arms and light weapons. These two issues also go hand in hand with the major issues of criminality in this country, be they banditry on one hand on the North-West of Nigeria or terrorism in the North-East.
‘Now, added to this, is also another area which raises concern, is the use of unregistered SIM cards. In my own brief, I dwelt on that issue and I raised concern that whatever we intend to achieve, we will not be able to get to the promised land unless we wrestle this issue of unrestrained acquisition of unregistered SIM cards.
‘Mr President has directed that I, as the National Security adviser should link up with the honourable minister of Communications and Digital Economy, to work out a blueprint to ensure the end of the irresponsible use of any SIM card. Of course, I urged my colleagues, the Inspector General of Police and Director-General of Department of State Services to help in this issue.
‘Again, my office is going to call on certain governors starting with the governors of the North-West zone including the governor of Niger State, to come over into Abuja, so that I meet with them and my colleagues in intelligence and security.
‘Finally, is about the issue of lack of synergy within the security sector. This has to be addressed also and has left us in no doubt that unless we address this issue and form a single front, the convergence of efforts, the confluence of all ideas be they operational or intelligence, must be achieved so that we no longer if at all there was this notion that groups were working in silos or stockpiling, they desist from that with immediate effect. We must have a central platform to coordinate all the efforts, all operations and security,
‘In the final analysis, Mr President has said, everyone is doing his best but his best is not good enough, that should send a signal to all of us. But again, it is also incumbent on the wider Nigerian population, to key into whatever the security agencies are doing. Understanding that there has been an issue of loss of confidence, loss of trust, abuse or whatever, these issues will have to be addressed by a discussion between security agencies and the political leadership and of course the judiciary will come in.
‘I, the National security adviser, wants to reassure Nigerians that each and every department or agency or component, will redouble its efforts and ensure that we reverse our dwindling fortunes for the betterment of this country in the remaining period they have in the lifetime of this administration.’
Asked what assurances he was giving to Nigerians, the NSA said: ‘First, we have to go back to the drawing board, nothing is ever too late. It’s regrettable that lives have been lost, a lot of chaos has arisen, but that doesn’t mean we ditched all our efforts, we are going to go back and that is why I emphasised on collective efforts; the convergence of all our efforts so that we can streamline and develop more meaningful strategies, but definitely there will be a change.’
Asked if a change in the leadership of the security team was likely, Mungonu said: ‘These are issues that only the President can address, I’m just an adviser. It’s up to Mr President, he has the prerogative to make any change at whatever time he deems fit, remember he’s the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and he’s the one ultimately who will take this kind of executive decision.’
On coordination by the office of the National Security Adviser, Mungonu said: ‘There’s a lot of flexibilities, a lot of issues of overlapping and interlocking responsibilities. For the office of the National Security Adviser, its mandate remains the same as before. This again is a decision that only the President can streamline because as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, he may deem it necessary to allocate certain tasks and responsibilities to certain organisations, even outside defence and security.
‘So, he’s going to look up whatever is going to be presented to him by way of collective efforts. I know that the Honourable Minister of Defense is already reviewing the policy, Intelligence is also reviewing certain aspects and I think it’s the final document that Mr President will look at in determining what role should be played by what organisation, what department, what agency.’
In attendance at the meeting were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff Prof Ibrahim Gambari, Minister of Defence Brig-Gen Bashir Salihi Magashi and Director-General of the DSS Yusuf Magaji Bichi.
Others were Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, Chief of Defence Staff General Abayomi Olonisakin, Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu, and Director General, Nigeria Intelligence Agency Ahmed, Rufai Abubakar.