Nigeria has New Security Chiefs but Insecurity Persists
Following months of calls for the sacking of Nigeria’s top military leaders amid rising waves of insecurity, President Muhammadu Buhari has announced the appointment of four new military chiefs.
This is the first time the Buhari government has changed security chiefs since 2015 when it came into power, despite declining security and calls for fundamental change.
The Nigerian military has engaged in a long and exhausting fight with Boko Haram insurgents. But there seems to be no evidence in sight of progress made in the fight.
Rather, there has been a significant rise in insecurity across several states on Nigeria’s northern borders including Sokoto, Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, and Borno, among others.
In a motion sponsored by Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, representative of Borno South, the Senate passed a resolution calling on the president to fire the security chiefs.
As a result, Ibrahim Attahiru was appointed the head of the army, Lucky Irabor was appointed head of the armed forces, Isiaka Oladayo Amao was appointed head of the air force, and Awwal Zubairu Gambo was appointed head of the navy.
Sadly, there appears to be no progress yet as attacks by bandits and kidnappers have increased, with the latest attack coming on March 11th when gunmen attacked a school in northwestern Nigeria and kidnapped approximately 30 students.
The U.S. based CBS News reports, “Gunmen have attacked a school in northwestern Nigeria and kidnapped at least 30 students just weeks after a similar attack in the region, authorities said Friday. The latest abduction took place late Thursday night at the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, in the Igabi local government area of Kaduna state, police said. ‘About 30 students, a mix of males and females, are yet to be accounted for,’ the state’s commissioner for International Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said in a statement. Several staff of the school were also kidnapped, he added.”
Although some of the staff and students have been rescued like in previous attacks, the latest attack, the third on a school in 2021, comes barely two weeks after an abduction at a boarding school in Jangebe, in the northwest of the country.
Nigeria’s defense minister drew the ire of Nigerians when he suggested, in the absence of security, Nigerians need to learn to defend themselves.
Bashir Salihi Magashi, Nigeria’s current defense minister, drew widespread criticism when he asked Nigerians to learn to defend themselves and not to be cowards in the face of rising insecurity.
Speaking in the wake of another recent kidnapping, the defense minister said, “[Nigerians] shouldn’t be cowards.” “It is the responsibility of everybody to keep alert and find safety when necessary. But we shouldn’t be cowards. At times the bandits will only come with about three rounds of ammunition, when they fire a shot everybody runs…I don’t know why people run away from a minor thing like that. They should stand.”
His comments attracted widespread criticism from Nigerians who questioned his credibility.
Isa Sanusi, a spokesman for Amnesty International, said, “People cannot defend themselves with bare hands while confronted with bandits are who are increasingly acquiring more sophisticated weapons.”
He said Nigerian authorities had a fundamental duty to protect lives and property and should not resort to blaming the people.
The latest attack takes the number of abducted staff and students in 2021 to over 530 and shows how much the country is at the mercy of bandits, insurgents, and the like. They can strike whenever they want.