From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The federal government is currently engaging retired senior military officers across Nigeria to tackle security challenges confronting the country, such as banditry, terrorism, armed robbery, pipeline vandalism and violence by secessionist groups.
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen Lucky Irabor, made this known at a one-day CDS interaction with retired senior military officers in the South West geo-political zone of Nigeria, held at the headquarters of the 2 Division of the Nigerian Army, Odogbo, Ibadan, on Thursday.
He also commented on the allegation made by an Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, that military men have been conniving with bandits in the country, saying ‘anyone who is hallucinating with the idea that the military or other security agencies are conniving, I think needs to have himself checked.’
Irabor, who noted that the territorial integrity of Nigeria is under serious incursion, said: ‘Currently, there are various security issues, and we have identified our retired colleagues, who, of course, have sold out, that is we serving and those of them that are retired, we are all sold out to the unity, peace and progress of our nation. This speaks to their sense of patriotism and zeal.
‘So, we believe, in their retirement, that they would be better instruments of sensitisation of those who live around them on issues bordering on peace and security. So, this interaction is actually to rub minds together. They will equally speak to us as to what they observed, what we need to do, and what we also observed, and that we want to see them do in their various communities; all in the hope of improving the state of peace across the country.
‘After the South West geo-political zone, we will go to other geo-political zones. I think that we can only leverage the wealth of experience that they have to be able to do this. That is why we are here. I believe it will be better for all of us at the end of the day.’
While commenting on the allegation of military conniving with bandits, Irabor stated: “Well, it is preposterous to think that the military and other security agencies would be conniving with bandits. Do you connive with someone to take your life? That of course is a question that should dismiss that kind of allusion any day. All you need to know is that yes, on daily basis because of the technological tools, available to every one of us, it is not impossible that criminally minded individuals may take advantage of these tools.
‘That is the reason why on daily basis, we are reassessing our operational engagements, to ensure that not only would our engagements be intelligence-driven. We equally know that these bad elements, who live among us need to be exposed. This is why we believe that this interaction is very necessary. I think from the outset, anyone who is hallucinating with the idea that the military or other security agencies are conniving, I think needs to have himself checked.’
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief of Defence Civil Military Cooperation, Rear Admiral Frederick Agu, noted that the current insecurity in the country has risen to a level where the armed forces of Nigeria require a variety of inputs from different stakeholders to combat them, adding that one veritable group that could ‘not be overlooked in this regard are the retired military officers. Based on the training and years of experience, while in service, they are expected to begin to identify security issues in their domains and advise the armed forces of Nigeria on the likely means to tackle them.
‘In this regard, the Chief of Defence Staff programmed interaction with retired senior military officers in six geo-political zones at selected state capitals and the FCT is very apt and timely. The South West zone, which has cosmopolitan cities, like Lagos and Ibadan, with a number of security issues, that are either real or emerging is the first port of call to the Chief of Defence Staff. It is expected that this interaction would bring all sorts of salient issues to the attention of the Chief of Defence Staff and proffer a way forward.
The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 2 Division, Nigerian Army, Major General Gold Chibuisi, commended the CDS for his wisdom in creating the platform “to tap from wealth of experiences of retired senior officers with a view to finding a lasting solution to the current security challenges confronting the country.
‘I want to remind the retired senior officers that they have crucial roles in a time like this when the armed forces in Nigeria are fully engaged in combating emerging security challenges nationwide. These challenges range from armed robbery, banditry activities, violence by the Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists, pipeline vandalism, arms proliferation, kidnapping, and herders-farmers clashes, and continuous attacks on security personnel by violent secessionist groups.
‘These problems have put the Nigeria Police in the spotlight, and necessitated the deployment of the armed forces of Nigeria in almost all the states of the federation.
‘The precision with which hoodlums carry out their attacks call for concern by all loyal and patriotic Nigerians. Innocent souls have continued to be lost amidst these crises, as well as valuable property, institutions, and infrastructure. No doubt, this growing insecurity has contributed to economic stress and joblessness in this nation. Thus, this forum provides a veritable platform.’