Opinion: Open Letter To The New Chief Of Army Staff – By SUNDAY EZE
Dear Lt. Gen. Farouk Yahaya,
Sir, I join Nigerians in their numbers to sincerely congratulate you on your recent appointment as the 22nd Nigeria Chief of Army Staff (CoAS). This came on the hills of the unfortunate passing on of the former Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru and other officers in an ill-fated plane crash in Kaduna. Your appointment to the exalted office was indeed meritorious and well deserving. It also calls for sober refection. Meritorious on account of your experience and as one who has held high ranking positions and served in various capacities as field commander. Suffice it to say that, it is no longer a question of reading the map but hitting the ground running. You must fire from all cylinders now and commence immediate decimation of the criminals and sundry enemies of the nation. There is an urgent need for reflection on the enormous task ahead and define urgent immediate and long term remedial strategies. Nigeria is hanging precariously on a dangerous cliff. The nation needs urgent help!
On May 27 when government announced your elevation to the position of the new Army Chief, a video streaming online showed officers and men of Counter- Terrorism/Counter Insurgency Outfit -Operation Hadin Kai, Borno where you last served as the Theatre Commander in joyous mood. It was such a rare solidarity never seen or exhibited before in the Army. That moment in my estimation captured the genuine feelings of officers and men of the Nigerian Army about the kind, calm, gentle, shrewd and meticulous officer you are. A feeling that the right man is now on the saddle. I must confess that I was humbled by their action and your calmness as the happy soldiers danced around you. That singular act of the officers and men represents the trust the nation reposes in you and your ability to deliver in all fronts. A trust to free our land from mines, criminality and sound of detonated bombs and bullets. A trust to see to the welfare of the troops serving in various fronts and the entire personnel. A trust for the return of peace abd normalcy in our land. A trust to banish fear. It is a burden and responsibility you should discharge without fail.
More than ever before in the annals of our history as a nation has insecurity become a sore point in our societal life and threat to our peaceful coexistence than now. For over a decade, the country has been contending with the rising spate of insecurity and it does not seem to be abating any time soon. From the violent extremism of Boko Haram/Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) to banditry and kidnapping for ransom and Unknown Gun men in south east; we all can no longer pretend that the nation is not in a dire strait. The perpetrators of this violent and heinous crimes are becoming audacious and stronger on a daily basis. They are not ready to back down on account of the sweet scent of the bad business. It is glaring that these criminal elements have operated without let or hindrance for a long time and the auspicious moment to speak the language they understand is now. It is heart-warming that the day you wore your new rank, you assured the nation that; “many of the bandits criminal elements have been sent to God for their crimes and we will continue to do that.” The major responsibility of government is to secure lives and properties of citizens. Therefore, with your appointment, this is a task that must be accomplished. One will easily concede to the fact that the task is enormous nonetheless; it is not insurmountable. With the right strategic approach and reliable point men; the enemies will be counting their heavy losses soon.
Sir, It has been rumoured that some politicians and even soldiers have been supportive of the lingering insecurity challenges in the land. They deserve nothing more than a decisive blow. Fish them out wherever they are and cause the law to deal decisively with them accordingly. Your officers and men should be treated with respect and dignity. It is not easy to be a soldier. Their salaries, allowances and sundry entitlements should be paid as at when due. Those who have paid the supreme price should be sincerely honoured and their families adequately and quickly compensated too in line with military tradition. For the officers and men who sustained various degrees of injuries in the line of duty, they also deserve adequate medical attention. Never give room for them to live in regret of ever serving their fatherland. This will serve as a morale booster for those particularly in the front line and to the entire Army for staking their lives to the service of their fatherland. It is in the news that the enemy is well equiped more than the Nigerian military. What matters right now is how to right the wrongs and move the nation forward. You can make a difference by judiciously utiliising the humongous Army Defence Budget for exactly what it is meant for. Your name will be ascribed in gold as one man who despite all odds restored peace and stability desired currently in our land. Increase in the military hardwares to confront the enemy is essential. With the arrival of six Super Tucano Fighter Jets, a sustained joint land and airial operation will cripple the criminals.
There has to be a functional synergy between the Army and other security agencies in dealing with existential threats. Working in close collaboration with other sister agencies on information sharing and joint operations should be encouraged. The Army/military-civil relations is key to winning this war. Most wars are no longer won at the battle field. Apply non-conventional means to get the desired result. Reach out genuinely to the communities and areas affected by crisis. Guage their impulse! Work to understand what drives people especially the youth to engaging in acts capable of threating national stability? Why do communities enjoy close relationship and collaboration to the point of conveniently habouring those who are threats to all? Army should be society friendly. The uniform is our national pride thus should not be an instrument of bullying and molestation of citizens. Citizens deserve to sleep with both eyes closed. Travellers should move freely without the thought of someone robbing or kidnappings them. Our school children must be be secured from those taking them hostage for ransom. Farmers should also have access to their farmlands without any inhibition. Nigerians deserve peace and happiness. With your wealth of experience and track records in field operations and others, the nation eagerly awaits for your midas touch.
Accept the assurances of my highest and esteemed regards.