Our Defence correspondent LINUS ALEKE writes that only time shall tell if Shekau’s provocative comment on the new Service Chiefs is a prophetic declaration aimed at forewarning government and those who may have confidence in the new military heads of impending doom the terrorist groups are preparing to unleash on the people or just a stiff neck and empty propaganda aimed at instilling fear on the people and at the same time massaging the amorous ego of the dark agents of death and destruction.

It was the editor of the Manchester Guardian, Mr. Charles Prestwich Scott who said that “comment is free, but facts are sacred”.

‘You cant do better than your pre e

Though one hundred years have passed since the above axiom was first made, scholars and even time had not controverted it, as the fidelity of its relevance and potency has remained intact till this very day.

Meanwhile, terrorism and insurgency is known to thrive on propaganda and that may just explain the rationale behind the trending reckless comment attributed to the factional leader of the Boko Haram terror group, Sheik Abubakar Ibn Al-shakawi popularly known as Shekau about the newly appointed Service Chiefs.

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In his latest audio message, the terrorist leader posited that the new set of Service Chiefs will not do more than what their predecessors did in the fight against terrorism in Northeast Nigeria.

Nevertheless, the terror leader did not stop at the above offensive comment but also allowed his religious ego and cultural bigotry to over show his sense of reasoning when he called on the new Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor to have sympathy for himself, repent and convert to Islam.

According to the transcribed audio message, Shekau also told the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru that his conducts are un-islamic and as such he is no longer regarded as a Muslim.

“There is going to be more terror attacks in the country. The high expectation placed on the new Service Chiefs will not amount to positive yields and soon Nigerians will know that the appointment of the new Service Chiefs amounts to nothing as to effect any changes in the operations of the insurgents in the Northeast region,” the terror leader bragged.

Unfortunately, Shekau chose to pay deaf ears to the sacred facts that both the new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Major General Lucky Irabor, and the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Major General Ibrahim Attahiru have served in Borno State as Theatre Commanders of the Operation Lafiya Dole and made a significant impact within the period.

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Although Abubakar Shekau has pledged to make a mess of their positions in the coming days to prove that the terror groups are still lethal forces to contend with, Nigerians think differently, as they have
expressed confidence in the abilities of the new Service Chiefs to bury the wreckages of the already crumbled terrorist empire in Nigeria.

One such Nigerian who does not subscribe to Shekau’s rash outburst is the Senator representing Borno South and the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, distinguished Senator Ali Ndume who posited that the new military heads are not only qualified but also have the field and operational experience.

In an exclusive interview with one of the national dailies, Senator Ndume said, “The new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Maj-Gen. Lucky Irabor, is well known to me; he is a gallant, intelligent, humble, and performing officer. It was during his tenure that he upgraded the army-civilian relationship to the next level.

“The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Maj-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, was also a theatre commander at one time, even though it was for a very short time. He knows the terrain very well, and he has the experience.

“The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao, was also at the theatre at a time and was Deputy Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole, and the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Rear Admiral Awwal Gambo, is also not new to fighting insurgency.

“We are confident that the team, which is very conversant with the insurgency problems, will perform and Nigerians would heave a sigh of relief”.

Other martial experts, who spoke to the Nigerian Pilot on Shekau’s unguarded utterances against the new military heads opined that the comment will compel the military to go all out against the terror groups to satisfy the confidence reposed in them by the President.

“It is my considered view that even if the new Service Chiefs intend to continue with the business as usual in the northeast theatre, this provocative comment from Shekau is enough to change their disposition to the task before them.

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“What the insurgent leader had simply done is spit on the faces of the new Service Chiefs, by telling them that they would amount to nothing in their effort to restore peace to troubled zone especially in the north-east. If the terror leader makes true his threat, then it will go down in history that these Service Chiefs are nothing but a bunch of failures. This is so because it is only a tree that you will drop an axe on its foot and threaten to come back the following day to cut it down and return the following morning to find it still standing in the same spot. Therefore, the new military heads must swing into action immediately to not only rid the country of terrorist elements and other sundry crimes but also, to avert the doomsday prophecy of the Boko Haram leader,” a senior Defence correspondent said.

This stern view of the Defence reporter does not also obliterate some of the conspiracy theories that the terrorist leader’s audacity to challenge the new military heads is not unconnected with the fact that some terrorist sympathizers within the military may be covertly providing intelligence that is capable of undermining the effort of the Armed Forces of Nigeria to wreck the ship of the enemy forces.

This is in addition to those who opined that unless citizens in the affected communities and states cooperate with the military in the area of intelligence sharing, Shekau’s challenge to the new Chiefs may just come through at the end of the day.

Few others theorized that unless the government takes the issue of procurement of modern military hardware that can counter the caliber of weapons in the armory of the insurgents, the war would linger longer than anticipated.

To this end, the new Service Chiefs must strengthen intra- intelligence gathering to enable it to fish out the bad eggs in its fold before they leak tactical and operational strategies of the military to terrorists in their determined effort to undermine the counter-terrorism effort in the northeast.

Efforts must also be made to buy weapons that would confer an advantage on the fighting troops.

On what the government needs to do to enable the new military heads to succeed in their current assignment, Senator Ali Ndume again proffered the following remedies; “the budget of the armed forces has improved so much. We expect that the Federal Ministry of Finance should release money off the front. The President should then give them a time-line since they now have everything they need. If they don’t perform as expected, the government should not waste time sacking them.

“I believe that if the new service chiefs are given what they need to execute the war, they would tackle insurgency, banditry, and all forms of criminality.

“The President should not deal directly with the service chiefs, because they will tell him what he wants to hear. But the NSA would be able to ask questions and put them to more tasks.

“There must be a situation room in the office of the NSA where reports of what is happening in the operations would be obtained on daily basis. There must be a work plan too to be brought by all the service chiefs. At the moment, everybody is doing what they like.

“The idea of the service chiefs reporting to the President’s Chief of Staff is wrong. It is totally out of place because we have a senior person in the military hierarchy that should do the work.

“The role of coordination and supervision of security issues in this country must be that of the NSA. The minister of Defence, who is a retired general, should equally supervise them”.

Giving a timeline to the Service Chiefs, he said, “the war could be brought to an end before the raining season starts. Therefore, the beginning of the raining season should be the target for the issue of insurgency, especially in the Northeast”.

On Intelligence gathering, he opined; “let me be honest with you. Anti- insurgency operations in the Northeast won’t succeed without the cooperation of Nigerians.

“The security agencies should relate with governors of affected states. The Army should improve on the relationship between them and the civilian JTF, vigilante and hunter groups. It is very important to have numbers, but more importantly, the hardware to tackle insurgency.

“The Army is now coming in with 8, 000 new recruits. The security outfit should be adequately equipped to address the issue of banditry in most states of the country.

“As I said, the office of the NSA, not Chief of Staff to the President, should coordinate the Service Chiefs.

“There must also be synergy among the security agencies and armed forces. And they should strive to get and make use of civil intelligence too”.

In conclusion, the new Service Chiefs must heed this priceless advice in order to controvert the prediction of Shekau.

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