National Security Adviser (NSA) Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno has his job cut out for him – a member of his family is being held by Boko Haram insurgents, Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima said yesterday.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday named Gen. Monguno NSA. He fired the Service Chiefs and replaced the NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) with Monguno.
To Shettima, the change of guards at the military hierarchy has offered a unique opportunity to defeat Boko Haram.
Reacting to the appointment of Gen. Monguno and Maj-Gen Tukur Buratai as the NSA and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), the governor said Nigeria cannot afford to lose the anti-Boko Haram battle with the new appointments.
Shettima, who described the appointment of the duo of Gen. Monguno and Gen. Buratai as “one of the happiest moments in his lifetime”, said: “The fight to overcome insurgents ‘is now or never’ because with the duo, Nigeria now has the best of chances to overcome the challenges of insurgency facing it since 2009.”
The governor was hosting members of the Insurgency Victims Support Fund Committee, chaired by Lt. Gen. Theophilus .Y Danjuma, who visited him at the Government House in Maiduguri, the state capital.
Shettima said President Buhari’s choice of Gen Monguno and Gen Buratai as a classic case of putting square pegs in square holes, adding that both men have been given the mandate of liberating their state, which has been the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency.
According to him, the military top brass possess ancestral knowledge of the state’s terrain besides being direct victims of insurgency attacks with their relatives killed, their homes destroyed and their towns raided.
His words: “Yesterday was the happiest moment of my life. President Muhammadu Buhari made a strong statement by his decision to appoint two highly competent sons of Borno to the offices of the National Security Adviser and the Chief of Army Staff.
“I think his strategy was to get people with ancestral knowledge of the Borno terrain. Maj-Gen Tukur Buratai is even a direct victim of Boko Haram attacks. He lost family members when his residence was attacked earlier this year in Buratai, a town in Biu Local Government area.
“Monguno (town) was destroyed and once occupied by Boko Haram and that is where the new NSA, retired Maj-Gen Babagana Monguno, hails from. In fact, a key family member of General Monguno is still being held captive by Boko Haram insurgents.
“These two generals are from Borno; they know exactly where it pinches and, most importantly, they understand the terrain and can easily connect with communities to get local support.
“Added to them is also the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who hails from Bauchi, also in the Northeast. AVM Abubakar spent many of his formative years in the military here in Borno State. He has spent over 10 years in Borno; he knows the terrain very well also and connects with the people.
“I think, for us, it is now or never because the President has generously put the sons of Borno and the Northeast to lead the battle for the freedom of Borno, the Northeast and rest of Nigeria, from the murderous threats of insurgents.
“Insha Allah, with the combined efforts of other competent Service Chiefs and all Nigerians, the war on terror will soon be won by the supremacy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The governor called on Nigerians to support the President who,he said, has left no one in doubt about his persistent commitment to ending the insurgency.
Also yesterday, Senate President Bukola Saraki spoke on the appointees.
Clearing the air on Tweets concerning the screening of the Service chiefs, Saraki said the security chiefs do not need to undergo screening before they are cleared. He also said the National Assembly needs no consultation by the President before he names Service chiefs.
A statement by his media aide Sunni Onogu reads: “The attention of the Media Office of the Senate President has been drawn to a story making the rounds to the effect that the Senate does not need to screen or confirm the new Service Chiefs appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“However, we want to make it abundantly clear that based on inquiries made to the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on whether the Senate was consulted before the appointment of new Service Chiefs was announced, he had in response tweeted that the appointment of Service Chiefs is the exclusive function of the President as stipulated by the Constitution.
“Let it be known that his comment is now being misinterpreted to say the Senate will neither screen nor confirm the new Service Chiefs. This is far from the truth.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Saraki has said his comment is without prejudice to extant laws and court pronouncements on the issue and, therefore, that the Senate will do the needful when the list of the new Service Chiefs is sent to it by Mr. President.
“This is to clarify the earlier position which was not up to date and does not represent the position of the Senate President on the issue of screening of the newly appointed service chiefs .
“The Senate will perform its constitutional duty when it receives communication from the President on the appointments.”
Also yesterday, Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade said the President had demonstrated that “he is for nobody but for everybody” as promised in his inauguration speech of May 29.
Ayade was expressing the gratitude of the government and people of his state to Buhari for the appointment of Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, a Cross River indigene, as Chief of Naval Staff (CNS).
He noted that by the appointment, the President had demonstrated his avowed declaration that he would be president-for-all.
Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas is from Yakurr Local Government Area of Cross River State.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media/Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Christian Ita, Ayade said: “I wish to express my sincere gratitude to our President, Muhammadu Buhari, for the appointment of our son and brother, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas as the new Chief of Naval Staff.
It is now clear to all that this is a President who is very much committed to his pronouncements as a leader. He has demonstrated that he is a man of his words and a man of conviction. He declared to Nigerians soon after his inauguration that he would be president-for-all. There is no doubt that every day, Mr. President is walking his talk.”
The governor congratulated the new naval chief on his appointment, which he described as an elevation well-deserved.
He said: “I wish to, on behalf of myself and the good people of Cross River State, congratulate our son and brother, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, on his well-deserved appointment as the new Chief of Naval Staff.
“As a true professional, I have no doubt in my mind that he would acquit himself in his new responsibility and lend his wealth of experience in combating the challenges of insecurity in the country.”