- Wants Nigeria as permanent head of multinational force
For the second time in a week, President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, held a meeting with the nation’s security chiefs without the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
The development has fuelled speculations among some concerned Nigerians that the Vice President was being schemed out of the governance of the country.
Although, Prof. Osinbajo was abroad when Buhari had his maiden meeting with the service chiefs held on Tuesday, June 2, 2015, his absence at Wednesday’s meeting has attracted the attention of some Nigerians, who believe that Buhari should build a strong team with the Vice President.
Nigerian Pilot however learnt that the Presidency is not positively disposed to involving Osinbajo on security issues because of their sensitive nature.
All the two meetings which Osinbajo was not present were held at the Defence House, where Buhari currently operates from because of the ongoing renovation at the Presidential Villa.
The service chiefs who attended the meetings included the National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki; Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, Chief of Army Staff, Maj.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Usman Jibrin; Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Adesola Amosu; and Inspector-General of Police, IGP Solomon Arase.
While the presence of the Vice President at such meetings is at the discretion of the President, Buhari’s action is a clear departure from that of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, who carried their deputies, Atiku Abubakar and Namadi Sambo, respectively along on such sensitive matters.
Obasanjo only turned his back on Atiku when their fight over the third term agenda of the former dominated the polity.
Nigerian Pilot learnt that Buhari allegedly instructed Osinbajo not to attend such meetings.
In fact, sources close to the seat of power claimed that Osinbajo was “locked out” of the meeting on the orders of his principal, and no explanation has been offered either by the President or the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC on why the VP does not attend security meetings.
It was learnt that Osinbajo’s absence at the meetings is being linked to the fact that he is a lawyer and not a security expert.
Prior to the latest controversy, an online news medium, DailypostNigeria, quoted a source as saying that: “I am sure he would have been invited if he had security background. Being a Professor of Law is fine, but in terms of intelligence and access to security information, you are nowhere near the rank of Colonel or equivalent in the Nigeria Military. Look, I have watched some footage that if the VP gets to see, he would lose appetite for days.
“Now, we have someone who has been in luxury virtually all his life, attaining the position of VP and some people are clamouring for his presence in highly sensitive talks. The truth is that the military hierarchy would not even feel comfortable saying some things in his presence. I can tell you that they respect Prof. Osinbajo as VP, but they cannot trust him with information yet.
“You cannot compare him to Buhari who served in many military roles, chased away a militia that was threatening Nigeria’s security, overthrew a military government, became Head of State, fought corruption and went ahead to instil discipline among a stubborn citizenry,” it said.
While answering if Osinbajo would continue to stay back and watch, the source said: “He would be brought in but not now. The VP would have to go through what is called ‘simulation’. This is a process where he is lectured on terms, dealings, operations among others of the military. His inner strength, strong heart and ability to keep things to himself will first be put to test before he gets access to some classified materials and information.”
The source also spoke about the possibility of politics being a reason why Osinbajo has not been part of the security meetings.
“We must understand the fact that Osinbajo was a candidate promoted by Bola Tinubu (ex-Lagos Governor), he was not handpicked by Buhari. If the President had picked a vice president, it is likely that such individual may get the access Osinbajo isn’t getting now.
“Everyone knows the VP has been loyal to Tinubu for decades and he cannot swear that he would not divulge details of these security meetings to his political godfather. So, he has to earn it. Tinubu may have used his influence to put him in this position but he must draw a line between blind loyalty and national duty.”
President wants Nigeria as permanent head of multinational force
Meanwhile, President Buhari has disagreed with a proposed guideline of the Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin Republic that recommended six months duration for change of the command and control structure of the Multinational Joint Task Force.
At an extraordinary meeting of the Commission’s Heads of State and Government held at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, yesterday, Buhari urged his colleagues to allow Nigeria retain the position of the Force Commander of the MJTF throughout the period of the war against insurgency.
A Nigerian, Maj.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, was recently appointed the Force Commander.
The President argued that military operations that are subjected to rapid change of command and control structures would not yield good results.
He said: “While I agree that this is a joint operation with shared responsibilities; I am, however, of the opinion that military operations that are subjected to rapid turnover of command and control structures, six months duration, as it is being proposed in the documents before us, do not augur well for effectiveness and efficiency.
“Such a process will undermine, even if it not intended, the military capacity to sustain the push against the insurgents, who also have the uncanny ability to adapt and re-jig their operational strategies.”
“I am inclined, on account of the above, to suggest for Your Excellencies’ consideration that Nigeria retains the position of the Force Commander of the MNJTF for the period of the war effort.
“This command will be to the effectiveness of military strategy, since Nigeria will be providing the bulk of the troops and the main theatre of the war is on Nigerian soil.”
Buhari also promised to redeem the pledge made by Nigeria to contribute $100m to the force.
“Nigeria has already pledged the sum of $100m for the smooth takeoff of the MJTF. I hereby reassure you that my government will keep faith with this promise,” he declared.
The President stressed the need to strengthen cross border patrol and intelligence sharing, adding that efforts must be targeted at limiting the insurgents’ capacity to access funds and weapons.
He said the parley was premised on common resolve and commitment of member states to maintain the momentum in degrading the capacity of the insurgents until they are completely defeated.
He said it was also meant to mitigate the suffering which had been imposed on the civilian population by the nefarious activities of the insurgents and the terrorists.
He added that the meeting also afforded them an opportunity to finalise the instruments of the operations of force in order to give life to the joint military campaign to decisively defeat the insurgents.
He continued: “You will recall in my inaugural address on May 29, 2015, I affirmed that I will consult regularly with heads of government of our immediate neighbourhood and I have within four days of my assumption of duty as President embarked on a thank you visits to the Presidents of Niger and Chad.
“This important assignment was however interrupted because I had to honour the invitation extended to me by the G-7 member states to attend their meeting in Germany. I intend to continue his thank you visits to the remaining Lake Chad Basin Commission member states very shortly,” he said.
The meeting was attended by President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic; President Idriss Deby Itno of Chad Republic and President Boni Yayi of Benin Republic while Cameroonian President was represented by the country’s Minister of Defence.