Sunday, February 28, 2021

Can Nigerian Senate stand up to Buhari on ex-service chiefs’ ambassadorial nominations?

If our senators had an iota of self-respect and decency, should they even bother screening these ex-service chiefs for ambassadorial appointments?

• February 20, 2021
Nigerian Senate
Nigerian Senate floor (Credit: Twitter)

General Muhammadu Buhari’s recent surprise nomination of his immediate past service chiefs as non-career ambassadors has continued to generate serious reactions, some of which are actually interesting while most are either naive or outright bizarre. Whatever the case, it is another milestone in this government’s usual deliberate progress in error.

Whether anybody wants to hear this or not, no leader in this country in my lifetime has exceeded Buhari’s parochialism and provocative indifference to public opinion that is if he is actually responsible for most of the irresponsible decisions and actions of his government.

Whatever the case, once again the regime’s corruption and abuse of power for personal politics of self preservation instead of national interest is obvious for the whole world to see.

The President had in a statement by his spokesman Femi Adesina announced General Abayomi Olonisakin (Rtd), Lt. General Tukur Buratai (Rtd), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (Rtd), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (Rtd) and Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Usman (Rtd) as envoy-designates. 

Curiously, their nominations came just one week after they were sacked from service and their replacements inaugurated.

As alleged, their nominations as envoys by General Buhari is meant to dress them in diplomatic immunity in order to shield them from investigation and prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) already probing the myriad atrocities and crimes against humanity the ex-service chiefs may have individually or collectively perpetrated while in office. 

Recall that the Senate in the last few months, in what could best be described as “repetition of resolution” on insecurity, had asked Mr.  Buhari to immediately sack this same crop of service chiefs, saying they were bereft of new ideas to tackle insurgency and banditry.

These former service chiefs were supposed to have been fired or rather replaced long ago, but because we have a president who has an unbreakable covenant with absurdities and glaring failures they were retained in defiance of three clear resolutions of the National Assembly and the opinions of most Nigerians.

We have not forgotten that two of these ex-service chiefs achieved a milestone in their dubious distinction of institutionalising crass corruption and cronyism by building universities in their homes towns instead of securing the country from terrorism.

These nominations show that it has become habitual for Mr. Buhari to reward incompetence. Only recently, he appointed a new Chief of Army Staff who was sacked from command in 2017 by former Chief of Army Staff, General Buratai, for incompetence.

Former Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai
Former Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai

Interestingly, these absurd appointments are now subject to confirmation by the Senate and this where the bigger mess lies.

Going by what we have seen from the Senate, only a few Nigerians may be expecting to see the Senate reject any of those nominations. But this is where the real blunder would be committed in making more nonsense of our democratic experiment that has only succeeded in making this nation a laughing stock in the comity of democratic nations.

The Senate that recommended the removal of these same service chiefs for failure and gross incompetence will be the same Senate to screen them as ambassadors. What a country!

If our senators had an iota of self-respect and decency, should they even bother screening these ex-service chiefs for ambassadorial appointments? They should just let them go and live their private lives in retirement.

Muhammadu Buhari 1
Muhammadu Buhari 1

Can this Senate be trusted for once to put national interest and pride first by asking these ex-service chiefs to go and rest after all they’ve really put in their best in their service to the nation? If the particular assignment must be handled by ex-military men, there are several generals that were relieved from duties to enable the new service chiefs to take over, why is the government not considering some of them rather than the three that have been in office all these years with not-too-convincing or rather unimpressive performance in the assignment.

It was the height of insensitivity and outright insult on the sensibility of Nigerians for the presidency to affirm that “The President is rewarding hard work and exceptional sacrifice by a set of military leaders who gave their best to the nation and will be remembered, sooner than later, for their contributions to the security and survival of Nigeria as one nation. They should be allowed to move to the next level. This is so that their examples will help to inspire others if given the opportunity to serve.”

The world has gone past the era where inept and/or corrupt public officials whether politicians or military chiefs can be considered as fit and proper persons to represent a democratic country in the conduct of high-wired diplomatic business. Are there no other well-qualified men and women in this country?

Simply because those who run this current Nigerian government always do things that portray them as very hollow, disorganised and, at best, smart only by ten percent, the manner of the nominations is being interpreted to suggest they were done as an immoral attempt solely for the sake of shielding the ex-service chiefs from prosecution at the ICC by conferring diplomatic immunity on them.

Without mincing words, those calling for the prosecution of the former service chiefs based on alleged human rights abuses are also not very fair to them and the sacrifices they made in service to the nation. Human rights abuse in a war situation actually depends on the covert aim of whoever is doing the definition. Getting over one thousand men firing machineguns, rifles and also bombs all at once, there is no way that all the fires will hit the right targets.

The direction that whosoever loves Nigeria should be looking is the alleged corrupt practices especially diversion of the billions of dollars allocated to prosecute the war against insurgency and banditry by these ex-service chiefs. That is where the case is and it can easily be established and prosecuted if it’s taken up seriously.

But for these men with such huge baggage of administrative impropriety, incompetence and history of abysmal failures to be chosen as the nation’s best to bring political and economic laurel at home or at the international arena is a No! No!  Are there no more qualified men and women in this country? Must it be the same persons? Haba, Maigaskiya, Nigeria ‘no be banana republic o’ no matter how a section of the country may want to delude themselves! God bless Nigeria!

Ifeanyi Izeze: [email protected], 234-8933043009.

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