Patriotic Nigerian elders who operate under the aegis of Conference of Concerned Nigerian Elders (COCNE) has taken a strong exception to Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu’s position on the continued stay in office of service chiefs in the face of growing security threats even when they have overstayed their retirement age in the military, describing his utterances on the issue as unprofessional in scope, insensitive in content, shameful in form, and reckless in nature.
The group maintained that as a senior journalist that he is, Shehu ought to, at all material times, weigh his utterances against the general mood of the nation, particularly when discussions center on the vexed issue of security and public safety.
The concerned elders also called for the immediate sack of Garba Shehu, to serve as deterrence to other presidential appointees, who may want to travel on Shehu’s route.
They alleged that Shehu may be deriving some personal benefits from the continuous retention of the security chiefs, hence his position, as espoused during his interview with a Jos based radio station.
The elders in a statement jointly signed by Prof. Tunde Banjo for South West, Dr. Achike Nwachukwu for South East, Barr. Jackson Spiff for South-South, Alhaji Baba Usman Funtua, North West, Prof. Shehu Bulama for North East, and Dr. Isaiah Terhila for North-Central zones, also warned the presidential aide against incurring the wrath of citizens who, hardly sleep with both eyes closed, owing to the disturbing state of insecurity in the country.
“We are alarmed by a rather reckless, insensitive, shameful and unprofessional statement credited to Garba Shehu, President Muhammadu Buhari’s media adviser, to the effect that the Service Chiefs, who have remained in office despite glaring lackluster record of performance, serve at the ‘pleasure’ of the Commander-in-Chief.
“We are, indeed, shocked that a senior journalist of Shehu’s standing, who ought to be circumspect in his outings, especially when issues of security and public safety are concerned, would choose to speak in the manner he did.
“We daresay that only those that derive personal benefits from the status quo, will support its retention, as Shehu has continued to shamefully do.
“Shehu and his ilk must be educated on the fact that, though appointed by the President, the Service Chiefs owe their respective positions to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is embodied by the citizens – the task payers’ – from whom they draw their humongous salaries, allowance, and other perquisites,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, the elders hastened to clarify that they hold no grudges against the military heads, whom they maintained, have done their best, especially during the early stage of their appointments.
They said their position remained altruistic, and in the interest of career growth in the military; not borne out of malice, mischief, or any other sinister motive.
The statement added that “As concerned elders, we observed that this is not the first time Shehu will be supporting the retention of Service Chiefs, against glaring failure to secure lives and property.
“From a patriotic position, therefore, we are calling on our dear and amiable President to show Shehu the way out without further delay. This will endear his government in Nigeria.
“For purposes of encouraging career progression in the military and other critical establishments, we reiterate our call for the removal of the Service Chiefs and consequential replacement with senior officers with new ideas and perspectives on how to check the hydra-headed monster of insecurity”.
The patriotic elders said that their demand for the sack of Shehu followed his recent interview on a private radio station, Unity FM, in Jos, the Plateau State capital, where he claimed that
no part of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) stipulated tenure of military high command.
Shehu explained that the President, who is the appointing authority, has not acted otherwise, because he had classified and privileged information that critics and those calling for their sack are not privy to.
In the referenced interview, Shehu had said, inter alia, that: “President Muhammadu Buhari is still keeping the Service Chiefs because he is seeing things Nigerians don’t see.
“He’s seeing things that critics are not seeing. It’s not a tenured appointment.
“There is no part of the law that says Chief of Army Staff and others must serve for two years. Then after two years, he must go. He served at the pleasure of the President”.
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