The Nation (Nigeria)

Open letter to Chief of Army Staff

- Sunday Onyemaechi E e, sunnye e02

SIR: I join Nigerians in their numbers to sincerely congratula­te you on your recent appointmen­t as the 22nd Nigeria Chief of Army Staff (COAS). 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 Operation Hadin Kai, Borno where you last served as 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.

That singular act of the officers and men represents the trust the nation reposes in you and your ability to deliver in all fronts.

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 gunmen in southeast; we all can no longer pretend that the nation is not in a dire strait. The perpetrato­rs of these 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 has been rumoured that some politician­s and even soldiers have been supportive of the lingering insecurity challenges in the land. Fish them out wherever they are and cause the law to deal decisively with them accordingl­y.

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/militaryci­vil relations are 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. Why do communitie­s enjoy close relationsh­ip and collaborat­ion to the point of convenient­ly harbouring those who are threats to all?

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 kidnapping them. Our school children must 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.

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