Colonel Tony Nyiam, retired army Colonel, a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee, PAC that packaged the national conference but resigned midway following his altercation with the Edo Governor, Adams Oshiomhole during the committee’s public hearing in Benin in this encounter looks at the Nigerian state and expresses worries with the Buhari regime and the killings around Nigeria. He thinks the problem is not with the All Progressives Congress as a party but with Buhari and therefore urged the party to change its presidential candidate and go for a younger person. He also urged the party to change its logo which he says is similar to the logo of witches and wizards which spiritual effect he believes is affecting the country and responsible for so much blood-letting in the country.
There is a security question in Nigeria. Strange things are happening around Nigeria; killings everywhere. Nigerians are troubled. No place is safe. What do you think is the problem with Nigeria?
With all respect and since you have asked a very important question on the issue of existential threats we face as a people in Nigeria, I cannot but answer it much more truthful. I will begin by asking the question, is it not daily becoming obvious that the President , the Commander in Chief, that is, the chief protector of Nigerians has, by his own repeated commissions and omissions, become the most disturbing national security risk, that the All Progressives Congress, APC, in particular and Nigerians as a whole are presently taking. President Buhari’s administration is undoubtedly the most incompetent, nepotic, underminer of the rule of law that Nigeria has ever had. As if this jeopardy is not bad enough, the clear double standards in the tackling of the invasion of innocent Nigerian farming communities by Fulani herdsmen, foreign militia makes this administration complicit in the undermining of our national security, especially when the President himself, publicly said in the United Kingdom that those invaders were foreigners and yet nothing is being done about it. And to show you the double-standard, as publicly brought out by Columnist Olusegun Adeniyi, in his column on that Thursday, he said: “In April this year, while receiving in London, the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who raised the issue of killings in Benue State at that time, President Buhari said, the problem is even older than us; it has always been there but now made worse by the influx of gunmen from the Sahara region to different parts of West African sub-region. They were trained and armed by President Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms and are part of Boko Haram and herdsmen. Now, why are they not declared terrorists if they are foreigners? They are foreigners and armed. Why then are IPOB members declared terrorists?
Secondly, the same President Buhari had said earlier in a statement about the killings when he was receiving a delegation from Benue led by Governor Ortom, this was what Buhari said and I’m quoting Segun Adeniyi: Your Excellency, the governor and all the leaders here, I’m appealing to you to try to restrain your people. I assure you that the Police, the Department of State Services and other security forces have been directed to ensure that all those behind the mayhem get punished. I ask you in the name of God to accommodate your countrymen. Be assured I’m also worried about the situation. So, you can see the double standard and the pretense clearly. These countrymen are the Fulani/herdsmen militia. And this pretense by a Commander-in-Chief who holds the button and can press the button but who is condoning these things obviously makes him a national security risk and that is why it is not surprising that the Zamfara governor came out openly when his people were attacked to say that he is not the chief security officer.*Col.Tony Nyiam
Now, PMB’s obvious ignorance of the inadequacy of the organogram or structure of Nigeria’s higher national security management and rigidity in his refusal to consider the restructuring of the fractured foundation which is the political economic system which in itself is a key determinant of the national security architecture. His rigidity to change is in itself a risk. There are many examples of his administration’s incompetence. The recent example is the security failure in the management of the APC national convention. There were two security breaches in Delta and Imo camps and when even the president was speaking. Lessons were not learnt in an earlier security failure in the APC Ekiti primaries.
Doing nothing to the Inspector General of Police for disobeying executive orders is another example of incompetence or pretense.
Just before President Buhari’s recent visit to Cross River State to commission the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital, some naval personnel, acting in accordance to orders from above demolished the fence that demarcates my land in Calabar from the Navy to intimidate me. It was an attempt to intimidate me but I will not be intimidated from being part of those who want the Middle Beltans who are being killed in their thousands to have a voice. And by the way, Naval personnel being used to intimidate me or other security personnel being used to intimidate Obasanjo or TY Danjuma should realise that their people are the ones who are being killed in Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Bauchi, Kaduna, Plateau and parts of Kaduna North, Birmin Gwari and the Hausa being killed in Zamfara by a small group that is bent on colonising land they don’t own. Particularly, in Bacham land in Adamawa, General TY Danjuma’s Junkun people in Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa; General Zamani Lekwot and Martin Agwai people in in Southern Kaduna, Benue , Kogi, Enugu, Edo, Ekiti and IBB’s mother ‘s Gwari people whose land extend from Niger State through Federal Capital Territory, FCT to the new zone Birnin Gwari and Hausa original land owners of Zamfara are being threatened by foreign militia.
For the President as Commander-in-Chief who gets daily intelligence report to be demonstrating his not being sure of those behind the unprecedented killings of Nigerians in their farms is not acceptable. All these make armed militia invasion of Nigeria’s farming communities an attempt to distract attention from the land grabbing going on in Nigeria.
PMB’s varied accounts of the killers, begging the Benue Governor for Tiv, Idoma and Igede people to accommodate those the people say are the ones killing them , to the version of Libyan soldiers; to the new one of politicians who he did not name are not helping out. And we do hope that is not another attempt to frame opponents.
Let me tell you, PMB’s government officials tactics is consistent with the logo of APC, under Buhari’s watch. Broomsticks which the ruling party uses as logo share similarity with covens of witches and wizards. What do Nigerians expect from a scare-crow-like figure carrying the symbol of witch craft as the symbol of APC party?
PMB should know he is a former head of state and a retired general and all these things happening under him make him incredible. They make his administration a security risk.
That was very harsh sir
It is not. One does not have to be a master interpreter of symbology to know that with such symbolism of APC, it is inevitable that we shall continue to have the bad omen we are experiencing today. Lest we forget, bad omen is a phenomena or occurrences seen as a sign of future bad events. The broomsticks which APC members parade are a means witches employ to achieve magical flight. Hence, you see depiction of witches riding broomstick.
The unprecedented killings of innocent Nigerians and loss of lives from national disaster are clear evidence of the bad omen.
It could escalate to the South-East and South-South. A good example of the cruel irony of those who are taking advantage of PMB’s lack of attention to details is one recently exemplified by an aspirant to Edo State Assembly who openly campaigned for women’s rights while secretly engaging in child-sex trafficking and forcing young girls to swear to secrecy during witch craft rituals.
All you have been saying is that the President has compromised but he delegated duties and that is why we have the service chiefs, security chiefs. Now, some people are asking that these service chiefs or security chiefs be sacked and new ones be employed. Do you see it as a panacea?
Let me begin by making these clarifications. It’s about the error many people are making. The police are not part of the armed forces and the commander in chief is the commander in chief of the three armed forces. It doesn’t include the police and there is good reason for that. The police, by nature of their function, have to be operationally independent of the control of any chief executive. That is why in Israel, Netanyahu is being investigated by his own police. You saw also in South Africa with Zuma. So, the Police IG is never meant to be controlled by any political head.
On the main question you asked about people calling for the sack of security chiefs, what that means to me is a way of passing a vote of no confidence on the commander in chief, because he is the commander in chief. Constitutionally and structurally, the service chiefs are not commanders. They are what we call the equivalents of directors of corporate affairs of a company. The directors of corporate affairs of a company haven’t the executive powers which the chief executive officers of a company have. In Nigeria, the constitution rests all the powers of command in the president and the president only delegates these commands to his theatre commanders, those he elects to be theatre commanders. Let’s use as example, when Obama captured Osama bin Laden, he controlled the operation from the White House himself and the theatre people on operation. He supervised that operation directly and that is what a commander in chief does. A commander in chief is a five star general, whether he is civilian or not. Automatically, he becomes. The service chiefs and security chiefs are just as the word says. They are not army commanders. That is the way it is and what our President has powers to do. Service Chiefs or Security Chiefs cannot act or mobilse without directive from the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
There are military commands at various places to control security situations in the areas they are located.
All the different areas you are talking about have commanders but security chiefs are not called commanders. A Chief of Army Staff is not a commander. The constitution does not give him such powers. The command of the armed forces rests squarely on President Buhari and as such, any inefficiency could be linked to him as the commander in chief. You could see that since these attacks by foreign militia Fulani herdsmen, there’s no time orders were given as was done against the IPOB. There was only halfhearted command to the army chiefs when President Donald Trump of the United States spoke and of course, recently when the herdsmen betrayed Governor Lalong. In other words, Lalong who was trying to undermine the integrity of Benue State Grazing Law is now visited by the same for whom he was crying more than the bereaved.
When President Buhari visited the US, he also spoke against state police which many people are clamouring for and ordered instead that a fresh 1,000 officers be employed in the police force. However, it appears people are still talking about state police.
Like I said earlier, the APC as a party has a problem. Here you have a ruling party where the states, one, is an APC governor; two, you have a president who came out with a rigid start that those fighting for restructuring are not making sense. He dismissed restructuring. A few days later, the Vice President came to Lagos State Assembly and countered what the President has said. The vice president clearly used different words of saying that states should be made to be much more autonomous and states should be given more resource control that they source which was contrary to what President Buhari had said a few days earlier.
The Vice President is an educated man. He has been for state police. So, you could see that even the ship of leadership is divided on that. The APC as a party is divided on that. So, on that particular point, I have this to say; that since APC is becoming a divided party and under a new executive led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, I would have thought that Oshiomhole, with his National Working Committee, NWC, and the national leaders of the APC, governors and other critical stakeholders should join all the other national stakeholders in Nigeria nation building, that is, the likes of Chief EK Clark, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief John Nwodo, Air Marshal Dan Suleiman, Tanko Yakassai, Ooni of Ife; the Sultan of Sokoto, the Oba of Benin, the Obong of Calabar, Obi of Onitsha, Oba of Lagos, the Gbom Gbom of Jos, the former heads of state, Gen. TY Danjuma and others to arrest the drift of national disaster ship of Nigerian state leadership. There is need to demonstrate that APC is not Buhari or the cabal behind the scene.
In response to this call and as a duty to Nigeria’s national security, the new APC chairman and other members of the National Working Committee, the national leaders and other critical stakeholders in APC should be considering dumping the idea of PMB’s second term and instead, go for a respectful and strong leader whose age will not be a problem. The APC should settle for the choice of the likes of Sokoto Governor, Aminu Tambuwal before he is head-hunted by another party or a Middle Belt leader to give these victims of vicious attacks a sense of belonging. The APC should look at the merits and demerits of a Tambuwal type of presidential candidate or somebody from the North Central or the Middle Belt zone. As part of these changes required of APC, they should change the APC logo and make other moves that need to be made to ward off bad omen which Buhari’s rule clearly represents.
Perhaps the Reformed-APC should be seen as an alternative?
I’m saying the new APC leaders led by Adams Oshiomhole should take it seriously and not sheepishly following a leader who could destroy the party. They should also quickly drop the current logo of APC which is similar to that of witches and wizards. There is something else about those who wield power. This is the truth. The cabal appears lacking in the necessary courage to stop relying on an inappropriate structure and doing things in ways that are not working. How can an army general and former head of state have three service chiefs fighting openly? The EFCC, the NIA and the DSS and nothing is done. It shows clearly that there is somebody controlling from behind. If you also watch, there are complaints by many federal ministers who are quietly grumbling that in their ministry, they are not in control, that in key ministries, they imposed permanent secretaries who are in fact defacto ministers. In the Petroleum Ministry, we all read what happened between the Minister of State, Ibe Kachikwu and the GMD. That one is understandable because Buhari himself is the Minister of Petroleum but there are other key ministers. The retired officers up till today have not been paid. Members of the civil defence have not been paid. The police case is the worst; the police who are in operations are not paid their due allowances. How bad can it go? How bad do we have to experience things for the leaders of APC to realise that their product is a hard sell . These were the leaders who told us that they were bringing in a De Gaulle. During the APC campaign they said they were bringing a General De Gaulle who would transform Nigeria as Charles De Galle transformed France. But what do we have? How bad?
No one is against APC as a party but we are against a leader who has failed to tackle the killings of many Nigerians. The standard operation procedure of any director general of a national security apparatus is that every day, he files a report, if not daily, weekly to the president. The president is the principal and so he gets daily briefing before any other person does. The same DG briefed senators on the 8th and 12th of February on the summit on National Security which the senate organised. In the briefing, a DG of a national security outfit clearly made some revelation about some of the arms found with the herdsmen militia. So, you can see why I feel that there is complicity or it is much more than incompetence.
There is another thing. Why is the president bringing out the narrative of farmers/herdsmen clashes? That narrative is misleading because there were no clashes between farmers and herdsmen but a clear case of herdsmen attacking innocent communities and killing them. This issue of being mischievous about the narrative is very significant when it comes from a military commander on a field. A military commander on the field works with what is called a mission statement and every officer including General Buhari is so trained that your mission statement should not be ambiguous. What should ordinarily be the challenge we have is an existential threat of foreign militias invading farming communities and not a case of two people fighting as being portrayed. Projecting farmers/herdsmen clashes or two people fighting, which it is not, is very dangerous.
I’m addressing the question of state police which we are saying earlier and which I’m happy the Senate would come up with an amendment and I must commend the Senate President and other members of the National Assembly for this initiative. Having said so, in the paper I submitted at the Senate conducted summit, I had raised and addressed certain fears some Nigerians have about having state police. I captured it ‘the need for the maintenance of the impartiality of the police in its operation as state police’. There is need for constitutional provisions which prevent the control of police operations falling into the hands of any political head or anyone outside the police service. Political heads’ duty should be limited to policy making and seeing to the execution of the policy. This is why the practice in Nigeria in which the president has the power to appoint or fire the Inspector General of Police would be strange to citizens of liberal democratic countries.
The operational command structure of the different United Kingdom’s countries or local governments or regional police services is one example of a worth-while case study for our lawmakers and the executive to learn from. The head of the London Metropolitan Police is not an appointee of any political official.
Even the funding of the metropolitan police is not determined by the British Head of Government. The significance of the principle that the control of police operations must not be interfered with politicians comes handy when the inevitable state police comes to being. Police officers are supposed to operate only in accordance to the law of their nation state.
In the UK or America, the police are controlled by the Police Service Commission. In those countries, the Police Service Commission is made up of collegiate from the bench, the bar, civil society organizations, and journalists are invited to be members of the Police Service Commission. Also invited into the commission are the critical members of that community. It’s not by politicians. The reason is for the police to be independent.
I was once invited to be a member of the Police Service Commission in Scotland where I lived as the chairman of the minority group.
Closing the gap in our national security architecture is long overdue. You may have heard many people say that the services are not coordinated. There is currently no effective or constitutionally approved coordinator of internal security operations. There is for defense against externals conventional forces but there isn’t for internal and even for when you are attacked by unconventional forces from outside, as we are experiencing. Nigerian national security space is long overdue of having a coordinator of the utilisation of the intelligence asset and counter-insurgency and armed operations. There is merit in introducing a coordinator, a senior military officer, specifically charged with ensuring that Nigerians are always safe in their homes. They will be more useful than the coordinating committee approach. We need an officer with executive powers. The National Security Adviser as a nomenclature clearly indicates he is an adviser of the president who is so appointed without the necessary confirmation of the national assembly. But the function of the proposed coordinator of internal security operations is too vital especially with his focus on internal security crisis, hence the official cannot be appointed by the president without the confirmation of the National Assembly, otherwise, he can be used against political opponents.
It is most likely that there would not have been an open clash between the DSS and EFCC officials if the higher national security management had in its ranks, a coordinator of internal security operations. This coordinator is meant to be a three-star regular combatant general. This is in comparison to the coordinator of the armed forces assets and efforts, the CDS who should rightly be four-stars general. The introduction of the office of the coordinator of internal security operations could be likened to the Department of Homeland Security which the United States government introduced, when their internal security challenges were as grievous as what we are now experiencing.
The proposed office should be located in the Ministry of Defence where higher national security management has been better effected. At the moment, the Ministry of Interior does not have the capacity or know-how. Thus, I propose the Minister of Defence seeks the president’s approval to initiate an appropriate bill to the National Assembly or the National Assembly should initiate the bill and I humbly request the federal lawmakers to facilitate the transformation of the bill into an act or a legal provision of the constitution.
There is also what I call the internal security operations situation room. There is an urgent need for the establishment of a situation room in the proposed office of the Chief of Internal Security operations. It would be an important platform from which the Federal Government communicates with members of the public who are critical stakeholders any day in the management of internal security crises.
Against the fact that the Nigerian armed forces are grossly over-stretched, there is the obvious need of at least a four fold increment of the strength of the armed forces, intelligence agencies, the police services and other national security agencies. Through these minimum of four-fold increments, one of our major causes of national insecurity could be addressed. The reference here is to the massive youth unemployment which turns many of the youths into criminals. What am I saying? This strategy by the president in itself will deal with the issue of unemployment and thereby reduce idle minds.
What you are proposing doesn’t seem feasible
It is and I’m not even done yet. The situation in Nigeria is critical and so, there is also the need for a national guard and state guards. There is the strategic necessity for the Federal government to bridge the wide gap that exists between the use of the armed military forces in the aid of the civilian authority roles and the internal security functions of the Nigerians Police. There should be a standard operations procedure that enables the process of going beyond police action to military operations. What am I saying? There should indeed be a national internal security strategy which has a provision for graduated responses to the different levels of internal security challenges. Starting from the use of conventional police officers to address cases of breaches of peace and civil disturbances, then followed by the containment of violent protests by the riot police, now called mobile police. We then come to the low intensity war type of internal security challenges such as the Kano Maitasine crisis which the army were introduced to support the Nigeria Police Force to quell.
There are internal security challenges which go beyond the level of low intensity war to what could be seen as high intensity war type of internal security challenge. Hence, the necessity for military or paramilitary forces that stand midway between the Nigerian armed forces charged mainly with the responsibility of defending Nigeria against external enemy forces at one end and the police service at the other end. There is need for a National Guard establishment at the federal level and state guards at the states level. It is recommended that the state guards should be armed to what is known in the military table of equipment as small arms level while the National Guard which could be used to reinforce an overwhelmed state guard be armed with heavier or longer range of arms. The use of National Guard must however be always done with the consent of the national assembly. The state guards are not commanded by the president. They are commanded by the state government. The examples as you have seen recently when Trump ordered the National Guard to go and separate children from four or five states governor. It is the inalienable right of a federating unit to have a means for homeland defense.
We have civil defense and even neighbourhood watch in some states.
The civil defense is a centralised force. What we need is devolution of powers to effect homeland defense of the country. So, civil defence by the way they are structured doesn’t have the powers to take instruction from the governors. So, it’s a high time we got this new structure that brings security to us, otherwise, we are not serious. After all, the president’s defence is that the state governors cannot fund the police but I can bet that half of the states get more funding from internally generated revenue than what they get from the federal government. The mobile police protesting for unpaid salary is unprecedented and this is happening under the watch of a military man who should know that the first people to cater for are those involved in national security. Right from the time of Obasanjo to Yar’Adua and even Jonathan, there was never a time that military men and ex-military men were paid beyond 25th or 26th of the month
With all these happening, what do you think will happen in 2019 election?
I believe that the chairman of INEC should not be like the woman who is preaching one thing and doing another. She openly campaigns for the rights of women but is engaging girls as sex slaves overseas. The chairman of INEC should know that during the elections, he should be held responsible for national security.
Gov. Fayose said he pitied Nigeria when he saw a vibrant young man that is Emmanuel Macron of France talk about the ‘shrine’ the way he did. It was obvious he had been to Nigeria before and knew things about the shrine for him to talk the way he did. Young Nigerian men should mount the stage of Nigerian politics like Macron.