President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday said the Defence and Service Chiefs have a tough time ahead unless the Boko Haram war is won.Decorating them with their new ranks at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Jonathan said he did not know whether to congratulate them or not because of the circumstances of the moment.The military chiefs, he said, could not afford to fail in ending the Boko Haram insurgency.They are Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Alex Badeh, who was decorated as Air Chief Marshal; Chief of Army Staff, Kenneth Minimah, who is now a Lt.-General, Chief of Naval Staff Usman Jibrin, now a Vice Admiral and Chief of Air Staff, Ademola Amosu, an Air Marshal.They were decorated after being cleared by the Senate and the House of Representatives for the first time since the return to democracy in 1999 that the National Assembly will clear the Service Chiefs before their inauguration.In Lagos, the Army said it was battle ready should the insurgents attempt to hit the commercial city.The war against terror, must be won, Jonathan said, adding:“Whenever I am decorating military officers I commend their wives because it is not easy to be barrack- based and for you to rise to this height. But the service chiefs, I don’t know whether I will congratulate you or I will sympathise with you because of the circumstances of the moment.”“That reminds me, of the article I read when I was in secondary school written by the late Dr. Tai Solarin where he said: “I wish you what I wish myself every year. May you have a hard time this year’. So I think I will wish you what I wish myself every year and may we have a hard time this period, because none of us will sleep till the Nigerians in Borno state can sleep.“That is why I say today is not a moment for major statements. We will be having very fine talks from time to time, but definitely Nigerians will tell you what they expect from us, we must not fail this country and I believe this team will work together to be assisted by other intelligence services because the war against terror must be won in this country.“I congratulate you all and your wives. I have worked with some of you in one way or the other and I am convinced that we selected the right team to salvage this country at this time. You must not disappoint Nigerians.”Air Chief Marshal Badeh said the military top brass would not disappoint Nigerians.He pledged their loyalty to Nigeria, saying the security challenges in the northeast are not insurmountable.The security agencies, he said, would leave no stone unturned to return normalcy to the areas as soon as possible and especially
before the next year’s general elections.Also yesterday, former Head of State and All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, speaking on the Hausa service of the Voice of America (VOA) monitored in Kaduna yesterday, said there were allegations that soldiers collect bribe at checkpoints and raped women during operations.But the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Maj. Gen. Garba Wahab, said what the military and other security agencies need in their fight against insurgency was support and not condemnation.Gen. Buhari said soldiers should return to the basics of military training by maintaining professional standards, adding “Now there are accusations that they collect bribe at checkpoints, that they rape women during operations as was the case in Borno. That was not known before. Now if you kill one of their own, they round up and wipe out the community like what happened at Baga.”He recalled that during late President Umaru Yar’Adua administration, a plane was sent to convey leaders of the Niger Delta militants to Abuja for talks aimed at ensuring peace in that region.He said: “Everybody knows that the Boko Haram leader was arrested and killed. We all know that during crisis, the police should do their work and it is only when such crisis escalates that the military comes in and they don’t round up the crisis community and kill everybody”.The Army yesterday spoke of a rumoured attack on military formations in Lagos by Boko Haram, saying it will repel such attack.Speaking at the inauguration of the 65 Battalion Alfa and Brass Company Offices in Lagos, the General Office Commanding (GOC), 81 Division, Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Unahi Obi:“We are aware of the rumour of an attack making the rounds but there is nothing concrete as yet to substantiate it.“But the information available, either at a rumour or intelligence level, would not be wished away; rather we would factor it in our contingency plans.“We don’t arrest for the fun of it; rather, because we have concrete evidence that there is a link between the suspects and terrorism.“We have not made any arrests recently but if we see the need to make any arrests, we will do so,” he said.The project was sponsored by former Minister of Defence Lt.-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, under the leadership of the Commanding Officer, Lt.-Col. Haruna Dasuki.Gen. Obi said: “In the army, when we plan for operations or even when we take our threat analysis, we assume the worst case scenario in our plans and we plan from that point of strength.“We come up with contingencies to deal with the worst situations and if the situation is lighter, it makes it easier for us in terms of executing it.
by: Augustine Ehikioya, Abuja and Tony Akowe, Kaduna