It was in the aftermath of the crisis that engulfed the country with the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election that a new lexicon was added into the country’s vocabulary. The words, ‘step aside’ became popular when the erstwhile military president, General Ibrahim Babangida was placed under pressure by his colleagues to resign.
On August 26, 1993, he offered to step aside. Thus, the word step aside became quite popular among the populace. Though the term is not new or strange, it has always been a military terminology which was popularized by IBB.
Today, the pressure is on the current military chiefs to also borrow from the IBB example and step aside. A strong case has been made against their continued stay in office. The insecurity in the country is presently at an alarming proportion. From Benue, Plateau states in the middle belt to the North East and North West, it has been the same tale. Other parts of the country have also witnessed unprecedented insecurity with kidnappers, herdsmen wrecking havocs across the South West, South East and the South South. In all it has been one tale of bloodletting or the other. If it was not the story of Boko Haram killing and maiming, it is cattle- rustling bandits killing people. The hitherto safe places in the country is no longer safe. The peaceful haven is no longer peaceful. You travel on Nigerian roads nowadays at your own peril. You hear on radio, you read in the newspapers and watch on TV the atrocities from these blood thirsty savages.
So why should the people saddled with protection of the citizenry continue to hold on to their seats? Isn’t it obvious that they have failed in their avowed responsibilities? Governor of Borno, Babagana Zulum narrated how Boko Haram attacked a particular village on six different occasions in his eight months in office.
In saner climes, public office holders would not be told twice before they throw in the towel. Once your public expresses lack of confidence in your ability to continue to occupy the seat you are holding in trust for them, the honourable thing is to relinquish that seat. But that has not always been the case in our country.
Former President of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze resigned when the public lost confidence in his ability to continue leading them as manifested in public demonstration against his government. The Governor-General of Australia, Peter Hollingworth resigned after being accused of mishandling a sexual abuse case when he was the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane in 2003. The Director of America’s spy agency the Central Intelligence Agency, (CIA), George Tenet resigned after there were criticisms over the CIA’s approach to intelligence used to support the 2003 Iraq war.
Even back home in Africa, Faure Gnassingbe, President of Togo resigned when he was accused of succeeding his father in a process described as unconstitutional by the International community. Togo’s National Assembly Speaker took over in the interim until a more constitutional means was adopted to bring back President Gnassingbe. So why is it so difficult for our service chiefs to take the honorable way out by voluntarily resigning after failing us?
Nowhere is the failure of the service chiefs more manifested than in what is playing out across the geo-political zones of the country with the establishment of different security outfits. In the South West, it is Amotekun. In South East, the contemplation is to also establish a security outfit like the South West to protect their people from the menace of Fulani herdsmen, according to Ebonyi governor, David Umahi.
The north where insurgency is at the peak has equally lost confidence in the security agencies and is also planning its own security outfit. The National Assembly has equally called for the sack of the service chiefs over the same matter. The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, the Northern Elders Forum, Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and so many others have all spoken on the insurgency and the need to review the nation’s security architecture.
One has always asked why it has been difficult to win the war or deal a devastating blow on the insurgent. I have also spoken to a lot of people on the matter. Apart from the difficulty in fighting guerrilla battles, there have also been suspicion that some of the security agents have been complicit in prolonging the war. Some members of our security services have been accused of supplying intelligence to the insurgents. Other accusations range from poor welfare for the young men and women risking their lives to fight the insurgents to highly placed officials making money from purchase and supply of equipment needed by troops and thus would not want the ‘war’ to end.
With this total lack of confidence in their ability to win the war against insurgency and insecurity, it is high time the President takes action, and do what the security chiefs have been unable to do- order them to step aside while those appointed in their stead should be given a marching order to permanently find a solution to the problem. Nigerians are tired of the daily blood-letting.