From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Elder statesmen under the aegis of Conference of Concerned Nigerian Elders (COCNE), have called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to sack his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, for defending the continuous retention of service chiefs despite widespread banditry and kidnapping ravaging the country.
The presidential aide, during an interview on TVC News was reported to have claimed that no part of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) stipulated tenure of military high command.
He added that the “President Muhammadu Buhari is still keeping the Service Chiefs because he is seeing things Nigerians don’t see. He’s seeing things that critics are not seeing. It’s not a tenured appointment.
“There is no part of the law that says Chief of Army Staff and others must serve for two years. Then after two years, he must go. He served at the pleasure of the President.”
Miffed by his position, COCNE, in a statement signed by its Coordinators Prof. Tunde Banjo, Dr Achike Nwachukwu and four others described his explanation as “unprofessional in scope, insensitive in content, shameful in form, and reckless in nature.”
They argued that a senior journalist of his calibre ought to, at all material times, weigh his utterances against the general mood of the nation, especially when discussing issues on insecurity.
They, however, clarify that they hold no grudges against the military heads, whom they maintained, have done their best, especially during the early stage of their appointments, adding that their position remained altruistic and in the interest of career growth in the military.
The statement read: “We are alarmed by a rather reckless, insensitive, shameful and unprofessional statement credited to Garba Shehu, President Muhammadu Buhari’s media adviser, to the effect that the Service Chiefs, who have remained in office despite glaring lackluster record of performance, serve at the ‘pleasure’ of the Commander-in-Chief.
“We are, indeed, shocked that a senior journalist of Shehu’s standing, who ought to be circumspect in his outings, especially when issues of security and public safety are concerned, would choose to speak in the manner he did.
“We daresay that only those that derive personal benefits from the status quo, will support its retention, as Shehu has continued to shamefully do.
“Shehu and his ilk must be educated on the fact that, though appointed by the President, the Service Chiefs owe their respective positions to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is embodied by the citizens – the task payers’ – from whom they draw their humongous salaries, allowance and other perquisites.
“As concerned elders, we observed that this is not the first time Shehu will be supporting the retention of Service Chiefs,against glaring failure to secure lives and property.
“From a patriotic position, therefore, we are calling on our dear and amiable President to show Shehu the way out without further delay. This will endear his government to Nigeria’s.
“For purposes of encouraging career progression in the military and other critical establishments, we reiterate our call for the removal of the Service Chiefs, and consequential replacement with senior officers with new ideas and perspectives on how to check the hydra-headed monster of insecurity.”