President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday called for unity among West African States and those in the Sahel to deal with security challenges in their respective nations.
Also, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Maj. Gen. Farouk Yahaya, has said service chiefs now work in synergy, debunking insinuation that they failed in curbing the worsening insecurity in the country due to inter-agency rivalry.
Buhari, while receiving the new Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Mahamat Annadif, at the State House, Abuja, said the security challenges were enormous and, there, required concerted efforts to tackle them.
The president, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said: “You are our neighbour. You have vast experience on matters affecting the Sahel, having served for five years in Mali. I hope you will get the countries to work together to confront the issues affecting them.
“I hope under the auspices of UNOWAS, you will help get the problems sorted out. Most of them have to do with the instability in Libya, and it affects all of us.”
While describing the security challenges as “enormous,” Buhari added that the Boko Haram insurgency has ravished the lives and resources of Nigerians and inhabitants of some neighbouring countries while large swathes of Mali remain occupied by militants.
He promised Nigeria’s support to Annadif to aid his new assignment.
In his remarks, Annadif said he was visiting shortly after his appointment because he recognised Nigeria’s crucial role in West Africa.
He said the problems of the Sahel region were not new to him, which is why more than ever, he would depend on the help of Nigeria to succeed.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Maj. Gen. Farouk Yahaya, has debunked the insinuation that the service chiefs failed to curb the worsening insecurity in the country due to lack of synergy among them.
Yahaya, who spoke while fielding questions from members of the House of Representatives Committees on Defence and Army at his screening, said there was synergy among the service chiefs.
Buhari had appointed Yahaya to replace former COAS, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, who died in a plane crash in Kaduna.
The president consequently wrote to both chambers of the National Assembly, urging them to confirm Yahaya’s appointment.
Addressing the lawmakers, Yahaya said the job of securing the country was not a one man’s job, adding that the service chiefs have always operated together, hence the composition of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, DSS and Civil Defence.
He said: ”As we know, internal security is intelligence-driven operation. So we need others, including communities, including traditional rulers and all others who can provide information. We work together. At the army headquarters level here, all the service chiefs now luckily we were all mates in the academy. So there’s not much gap. The CDS (Chief of Defence Staff) is a member of 34 regular course; we met him there. So, at one time or the other, all of us were members of that academy together. The chief of naval staff and I were one time members of battalion. So, the synergy cannot be anything better now that we’re brought up together; we have trained together.”
Speaking on his plans to curb the worsening insecurity, the COAS said he would use his experience in the field over the years to make Nigeria safer.
He added: ”I joined the military 36 years ago, so, I brought along with me 36 years of military experience. I’m abreast with the security requirements. I was involved in several security operations. The challenges we are facing now, all are characterised by these areas I mentioned, where I have first-hand information and have commanded troops and I administered them in achieving what we’ve done.
“I believe I have the requisite requirements by the grace of God to now provide my services in this office of the Chief of Army Staff, if confirmed. What I brought is a wealth of experience and commitment. So I’m committed and determined to provide my best and also having known what’s required to achieve results.”
He also appealed to all citizens for their support, adding that with the support of the people, Nigeria will win the fight against insecurity.
Earlier, the Chairman, House Committee on Defence, Hon. Babajimi Benson, had said the insecurity bedeviling the country had cost it a lot both financially and in terms of human lives.
He tasked the COAS to bring to strive to end it.
Benson said: ‘This exercise comes at a very challenging time in the history of our dear country, Nigeria. Our nation has been besieged by several security issues across all the geopolitical zones with banditry, militancy and self-secessionists stretching our military to the extreme. The worst is the lingering insurgency in the North-east. This war has cost the country a lot both financially and in terms of human lives. This must stop. The Armed Forces of Nigeria needs to adopt innovative measures to curb the killings and wanton destruction of property as a result of these cases of insecurity.
“I, therefore, hope that, if confirmed, the new chief of army staff will do everything possible, working with other service chiefs, to bring this to an end.”