Military sources say the service chiefs are likely be asked to go (retire) or they may voluntarily opt to give way to new blood following the president’s wish for them to relocate their Command and Control Centre to Maiduguri, the Maiduguri State capital and epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency.
Although some military watchers were expecting the president to appoint their replacements last Friday shortly after his inauguration as president, this was not to be for strategic reasons, but today’s meeting may be the last they would have with him.
According to an informed military source, President Buhari’s plan to relocate the Command and Control Centre to Maiduguri, to rev up the fight against the Boko Haran insurgency, did not receive the support of the military high command.
In his maiden speech last Friday, Buhari argued that victory over the Boko Haram would remain a mirage until the service chiefs relocate to the theatre of operation.
On the insurgency, Buhari had said: “Progress has been made in recent weeks by our security forces but victory cannot be achieved by basing the Command and Control Centre in Abuja. The Command Centre will be relocated to Maiduguri and (will) remain until Boko Haram is completely subdued.”
Although the speech was hailed by those who were at the Eagle Square, however, military sources who spoke with some journalists yesterday in Abuja were not happy with the directive.
“It is an attempt to frustrate and humiliate our chiefs before sacking them. Some is us have analysed the speech and our conclusion is (that) President Buhari did not appreciate the efforts put in place in fighting the terrorists.
“In the whole speech, he did not commend us at all but instead seemed to agree with the cynics that we have not been observing human rights in our operations and he went further to praise our counterparts in neighbouring countries who are not in the theatre of operation,” said a top military source who craved anonymity.
“As if that was not enough, President Muhammadu Buhari said he wants our Command and Control Centre to relocate to Maiduguri; what for? We are involved in about nine operations in the country; now if the directive is carried out, then our focus will primarily be on terrorism at the expense of other criminal activities such as kidnapping, armed robbery, piracy, pipeline vandalism and others.”
He added that that such a directive was alien to military procedure anywhere in the world.
Speaking further, our source, a serving general, said: “How do we ask our service chiefs to be in the same place with their commanders? Where is the respect? If he wants them to go (retire), he should simply tell them. Instead, he is coming with blackmail: if they refuse to go, he would say he wanted them to remain but they ignored his order; and if they go, they might be subjected to humiliation and frustration before being kicked out of the service.”
When asked if the service chiefs had met with the president over the issue, our source explained that Buhari did not confer with them before issuing the order.
“How would they meet him without his invitation; it is tomorrow they would be meeting for briefing, and we don’t know (what will happen) – maybe he would ask them to go or ask them to obey his directive before giving them the boot.”
The service chiefs assumed office on January 16, 2014. They include the chief of defence staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh; the chief of army staff, Lt-Gen Kenneth Minimah; the chief of air staff, Air Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu, and the chief of naval staff, Vice Admiral Jibrin Usman.
Day One: Buhari operates from Defence House
Rather than operate from Aso Villa as is the custom, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday marked his first official working day from the Defence House, Abuja.
This development, according to his senior special assistant on media, Malam Garba Shehu, was necessitated by on-going renovation of the Villa.
Shehu, while explaining the development to journalist at Defence House, noted that the president could not move to the presidential villa because certain workers at the official residence of the president “claim renovation is going on; that the place is being cleaned up for his (Buhari’s) occupation.”
Shehu, however, hinted at the discomfiture the situation was causing the new president.
“The contractors are working probably at their own pace. If I need to know, or if you need to know this, probably, we have to talk to someone.
“I’m not saying he (Buhari) is comfortable where he is at his rented house, but he is operating from there. The moment the Villa is ready, he will move (there).”
Responding to questions by journalists, Shehu said he had no idea when Buhari would appoint his ministers.
“It is not something anybody will rush because you know that the National Assembly has to approve. When are you going to have the National Assembly in place? That is the question. Unless you are Governor (Ayodele) Fayose, you cannot take your ministerial list to the outgoing parliament,” he said.
The president had been operating from his rented apartment in Aso Drive, Asokoro, before moving to the Defence House, the official residence of the president-elect.
Boko Haram Attacks: Buhari meets NSA
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday held a closed-door meeting with the National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.)
The meeting, which took place at the Defence House in Abuja, LEADERSHIP gathered, was aimed at assessing the security situation in the country against the backdrop of renewed attacks by Boko Haram.
Investigations also revealed that the meeting centred on ways of carrying out the president’s plan to move the military central command to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, which he stated in his inaugural address.
After the meeting with the president, Dasuki, however, declined to tell reporters what had transpired.