Presidential aspirant and film maker Dickson Iroegbu in this chat with Dr. Uzor Ngoladi deliberates on the appointment of new service chiefs and the security situation in Nigeria. He recommends the sack of Buhari for failing to provide security and welfare for the citizens. Excerpts:
Let’s have your perspective on the performance of the service chiefs that just lost their jobs.
Their performance is out there in the public domain. Buhari promised to lead from the front and tackle insecurity in Nigeria. Here we are, the security situation in Nigeria has taken a new dimension. People are being slaughtered like chicken every day. We have been calling for the sack of these service chiefs but Buhari kept a deaf ear. The National Assembly called for their sack. On my show, Nigeria Right Now, several guests called for their sack. They have overstayed the civil service age limit and Buhari still kept them. The institution is shattered by the approach of president Buhari. The service chiefs gave their best but we know that their best was no where good enough. It took a long time to rejig the security architecture of Nigeria. Almost six years! If the people you are leading are complaining, you look at the merits and engage. How can the president order the IG of police to relocate to Benue State during the crises there and the IG disobeyed and nothing happened? It is the height of insubordination and incompetence.
Who takes the blame for incompetence of the service chiefs?
It is the Commander in Chief ofcourse!
But he has provided all the logistics required to fight insurgency?
What did he provide? What about the morale and encouragement? The soldiers in the field want to be appreciated. We saw videos of Nigerian soldiers lamenting that the ragtag enemy was overpowering them in the battlefield. They were not inspired to fight Boko Haram. For me, the bulk stops at the table of the president and it is obvious that the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces has failed. If there is anybody who should be fired from office, it is the Commander in Chief. By sacking the service chiefs Buhari has admitted failure. What is the primary duty of government? Security and welfare of the people. If you cannot provide security and welfare for Nigerians, you have failed!
So, you recommend that Buhari should resign?
Not just resign, if he refuses to resign, the National Assembly should commence impeachment proceedings because they called his attention to the security situation but he did not listen to them. The carnage continued. Now that he has finally bowed to pressure, he ought to be punished. It took him a long time to fire incompetent service chiefs and that is a clear confirmation of failure.
Did you see the video of soldiers jubilating over the sack of the service chiefs?
If you keep officers whose tenure has elapsed in service, you have killed the morale of the junior ones. That is why they are jubilating. It means that their expectation has finally been met. We thank God that Buhari also has minimum years to stay in office. It gives soldiers some relief that their senior officers are finally out of the way. We need fresh ideas to move the country forward. An army general made a video to call the attention of the authorities to what is happening in the field and he was demoted. There are so many cases where soldiers are court marshalled because they complained. It’s rather unfortunate that we have a Commander in Chief who only commands soldiers to kill Nigerians as we saw during the EndSARS protest. However, we still say, ‘Well done Mr. President for waking up by 6pm instead of 6am.
Are you of the school of thought that the sacked service chiefs should be probed?
Of course, everybody should give account of their service after stewardship especially when you are occupying a public office. People lost their lives during this period. I subscribe to anything that will make them account for how they served Nigeria, if they are found wanting, they should go in for it. Every public office holder should submit himself willingly to probe and scrutiny after office. The former governor of Ekiti, Ayo Fayose was calling for International Criminal Court to step in and I totally support him. If I were the former service chiefs, I will submit myself to scrutiny.
What are your expectations from the new service chiefs?
The expectation is very high. In fact, we cannot wait to hear that the issue of insurgency in Nigeria has come to an end. They must perform magic since the commander in chief has provided them with all the logistics they need. This has to do with the life of Nigerian citizens. The service chiefs should be at the forefront of the fight not in Abuja. If they need anything, they should make it public. Nigerians are looking for service chiefs they can trust. Its all about information sharing. They must win the trust of Nigerians. We are tired of citizens being slaughtered everyday and the armed forces appears to be compromised. The army has a very negative image in Nigeria right now. They should get to work and work with Nigeria. The media is key. They must carry the media along and inform them about their challenges. The movie industry also has a key role to play in redesigning the approach of security in Nigeria. It should not end with arms and ammunition.
If you occupy Aso Rock today as president what will you do differently?
If I eventually become the commander in chief, I will ensure that everyone is carried along. For instance, if you look at the service chiefs appointment, a particular region has been left out. The eastern part of Nigeria has been left out. There is no way you can have justice. I will place justice on the table as CinC of Nigeria. Anybody who does not perform his duties will be shown the way out. Intelligence gathering cannot be by arms and ammunition. You must reach out to the communities and media. Work with Nigerians.
Can you compare what happened in Imo State and Ondo state in terms of security?
What happened in Orlu Imo State is a shame. That is why the call for restructuring is thickening. How can we have a governor in Imo state and the army will storm a community in the state shooting people? It doesn’t make sense. In Ondo state we saw the governor as chief security officer give a marching order to Fulani herdsmen to leave the state forest reserve. That is the right thing to do as a responsible governor. What happened in my state, Imo state is very unfortunate. I sent the governor, Hope Uzodinma a text message. Under your watch, the army invaded your community and killed people. It is simply a case of failure of leadership. Then we see the opposite in Ondo where Akeredolu took responsibility. The governors must be there for the people. That is what is missing in the Orlu case. The governor gave consent if not by now he would have had a meeting with the president. What stops Hope Uzodinma from having a one on one with Mr. President and address his people? He just declared a curfew and that’s balderdash. Even if you came through the Supreme Court, show the people love and let them accept you as their leader. Ngige did it in Anambra State. He abandoned the Godfather and pitched tent with the people. Hope Uzodinma missed the opportunity to align with Imo citizens. He is my governor. I am disappointed that Hope does not see the need to earn the trust and followership of the people. Imo State presently is in ruins, the roads are terrible, no light, the people are living in abject poverty and then you still inflict terror on the people. It is really sad!