Politics of appointment of service chiefs

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service chiefs
service chiefs

At last, the long awaited face of the Buhari administra­tion is beginning to unfold, and it is expected that any mo­ment from now, we would have the full picture. On Monday, the president gave an inkling of what his style of administration will look like when he took the military top brass by surprise with the an­nouncement of his appointees to the positions of service chiefs. The army top hierarchy were having their annual conference somewhere and talking tough over the security situation, when taciturn Buhari pulled the rug from under the feet of some of their commanders. I don’t know whether they felt bad or relieved but whatever was the case, what happened was expected giving the convention we have estab­lished over some years.

The development as would be expected, attracted mixed reac­tions, and would continue to at­tract attention for various reasons including how the appointments affected some of the geo-political zones. To begin with, we must con­cede the right to so appoint to the president; in fact it is constitutional. He also has the prerogative of time. I have heard this issue of being slow or contemplative for an ad­ministration that is just starting and my position is that human manage­ment is as we know not a pure sci­ence, which means there are many ways and styles of walking into so­lutions. A leader may choose to be hot and act with frenzy and another would come along and choose to be calm and strategic. I think that the new lesson the Buhari era is teaching us, and very strongly too, is that citizens once they give away power should be able to watch and see.

Nevertheless, the change of ser­vice chiefs anywhere in the world is a big issue and carries with it huge significance. Foreign nations, through their embassies, watch such development very closely, be­cause of the stories they tell about the strength of the incumbent gov­ernment and the character of the national army. Citizens take it very seriously, because of what these of­ficers could do to change the face of politics in a society still ravaged by the negative sides of religion and ethnicity. This latter factor is likely to trail for a long time the recent ap­pointment of service chiefs. I can mention one here: the people of the south-east already are kicking that in such a crucial sector, where over seven key appointments were announced, not one came from the south-east. It does not look funny if the goal is to create a new syn­ergy in which everybody would be united to fight deviants and subver­sives, who make our lives unduly difficult.

The presidential spokesman spoke of merit and from the names we saw it could well be true that plenty of emphasis was rightly placed on knowledge and abil­ity, which are things we need for the moment. But in a plural soci­ety such as ours, closing our eyes totally to our diversity can also throw up obstacles that can render merit impotent. Every man is usu­ally influenced by his environment! When in areas where I operate peo­ple talk so much about merit, I usu­ally tell them that merit is no longer the scarce, mystical rod it used to be in the 60’s and early 70’s. To­day, in nearly every family across this nation one can find one person that can give this nation qualitative leadership. They are not in the fore­front because some satanic cabals have succeeded in scaring away the people from the cardinal responsi­bility of recommending and choos­ing leaders and have forcefully tak­en it upon themselves to play the role. This trend took a worst form with the illegal entry of the military into politics and its effects we still suffer today in all facets of national life including administrative struc­tures that got distorted.

The recent promotion has re­vived in me a concern that has been with me for a very long time and it has to do with frequent changes of well-trained public officers, es­pecially of the security apparatus. Such sweeping away is highest when we have change of guards at the highest level of national lead­ership. With the recent appoint­ments, some officers whose tenure were still supposed to run would now have their careers terminated abruptly not because they are low performers or that they committed crimes, but simply because a jun­ior officer has been elevated above them. I see waste in this kind of structure and I think the nation is worst for it. Today, we say that our army is not a fighting force and our police ineffective; for those look­ing for reasons, the above offers more than enough reasons. I don’t think democratic administrative structures were made in such a way that we consciously throw away our best brains and experts. What brought about this aberration is the military, who on their climb to power through coups appoint only men they believe will be loyal to the president and commander-in-chief.

We inadvertently carried over this abnormality into civilian rule, and if I were to predict, it was cer­tain that the army chief under Bu­hari would be a Muslim of North­ern extraction. The logic behind this is not merit but the belief that one’s tribesman would offer great­er loyalty and enhanced protection. This view has gained grounds be­cause the structures that should sift and produce leaders, whose loyalty would be to the nation has been distorted and bastardized and we have taken recourse to getting leaders based on primordial con­siderations. Today, we are paying dearly for it; since we are talking about change, we can change this by putting in place a new system that would throw up leaders to man security positions and to have them insulated from the vagaries of naked politics. I want a situa­tion like the Pentagon in America where the security chiefs pursue their careers and those who pay the price of change are the Secretary of Defence and the National Security Adviser.

For the new appointees, they should know they have been called to duty at the most difficult time. To achieve results they will have to think outside the box and they should be very fast about it. I want to see the troops profession­ally massed in trouble areas; they should study closely the French model of reaction, first in Mali and back home in France, I’m sure they will find very useful lessons. One thing that has remained lacking in our security fights is citizens’ par­ticipation and I want to say it is very important. The president should make a national broadcast just on security, making it a real citizen’s issue. The new security chiefs and this government should not be shy of introducing new measures and rectifying the destroyed ones. One of such is the removal of the mili­tary from routine internal security matters. The fear of some of us in areas where there is relative peace is that things would get worse be­cause police is in a bad shape. The truth is the same reason we ought to return the police to their core responsibilities, equip them, train, restructure, recreate the mobile po­lice force, and if need be establish a National Guard, all these perhaps at different levels of government, let them loose with new mandates. We run away from problems or take the easy route because we don’t want to exert our brains and body. I want Buhari to succeed and I’m praying and working so that he succeeds.

Sunnewsonline – Culled from: http://sunnewsonline.com/new/politics-of-appointment-of-service-chiefs/

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