By Chukwudi Nweje
Adebayo Adeolu, lawyer and public affairs commentator, among other issues in this interview, has criticised the government for allowing some tribal and ethnic militia to operate unhindered across the country.
What is your take on the security situation in the country and the appointment of new Service chiefs, what are your expectations?
My expectations from the new Service chiefs are for them to push the war against terror, insurgency, banditry and kidnapping to the end. I expect a new dimension and approach that will disarm all armed men across the country who are not authorised to carry weapons and this can be achieved by surveillance of all the forest areas of Nigeria. This will solve many of the security problems we witness and experience in Nigeria. Secondly, I expect that when they disarm these groups of people, there would be a need to interrogate them about their mission and find out who armed them; this is critical.
The South-East zone is agitating over their non-representation in the appointment of the new commanders, What do you say?
The truth is that Northern Nigeria never recovered from the shock of the first coup of 1966 and they are still talking of it today and see it as a betrayal against the North. If you look at the leadership in Nigeria today, they were participants of the counter-coup and actors in the civil war. That to an extent is still a reason why the South Eastern candidate is not acceptable to the Northern elite.
Is there nothing in the extant laws of the federation on how the appointments are to be made?
The 1999 constitution does not specify, it only talks of appointment of Service chief subject to approval by the Senate. However, you will find that the Federal character laws which had been implemented during regional government talk about ensuring balance in appointments into government.
Should Nigerians be worried about the new Chief of Army Staff who was once removed as theatre commander in the fight against Boko Haram, because he could not achieve his mandate; he is now leading the entire army in the same fight?
The position of chief of Army staff is most relevant, strategic and powerful and the new occupant must be absolutely loyal to the Nigerian project if he will succeed. Yes, he was removed as theatre commander in the fight against Boko Haram but he now has another chance as the team leader in full capacity and control and it might bring a successful end to the crisis. A man may make mistakes or might not be able to do a good job if he is not in full control, The Chief of Army Staff should be given a new lease to perform. We should give him perhaps 60 days in office to see what he will do and the direction he is heading. Once the government can fund the mission to end the insurgence and the commitment is there, all the problems would end within a short while especially if we as a nation agree to disarm all armed gangs and flush out those perpetrating kidnap, killings and rape on our highways and making Nigeria look like a failed state.
The chief of Army staff must unite the armed force and must be detribalised and good to all his men, seeing to their safety and welfare at all time; we don’t want a situation where soldiers will be ambushed and attacked while on a mission as a result of sabotage and moles within their rank and file; we must normalise things as those kinds of acts are treasonable.
What do you think of the security situation in the country?
The security problems and situation in Nigeria is an embarrassment for a great nation like ours and one wonders how we descended into this crises. We used to be a peaceful country and even night travel was a safe journey with our luxury buses travelling round the clock and the economy was booming. I feel all these problems are as a result of greed and corruption which led to the collapse of our roads and other infrastructure. The governors, legislators and government appointees are lining their pockets with public funds and the economic managers are not committed to Nigeria as they devalue and devastate the economy of the country, making life unbearable for the people.
There are outcries all around Southern Nigeria over the activities of cattle herders. What is your take?
Armed herdsmen are attacking people in Southern Nigeria on a daily basis and the government has failed in bringing succour to the aggrieved groups of people all over Nigeria. Ondo, Oyo, Ogun, and other parts of Southern Nigeria have witnessed clashes between farmers and herdsmen and a lot of people were killed and the perpetrators were not arrested; even when they are arrested they would be later released without punishment, thus encouraging them to continue with their murderous acts. We as a nation and including President Muhammadu Buhari must not allow a group or ethnic and tribal militias to threaten us in the manner the National President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Bello Bodejo seems to champion for so long with heated words. Recently too, Prof Usman Yusuf, an enlightened professor has been saying that the Fulani are being unfairly blamed for the problems in Nigeria. He should know that ranching is the way forward and that it is not the duty of Southern governors to provide ranches for cattle herders