President Muhammadu Buhari says he has not changed the service chiefs in order to avoid “competition within the service.” He said this in a recorded interview that was aired by Arise TV Monday night.
Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, chief of defence staff; Tukur Yusufu Buratai, chief of army staff, Ibok-EteIkwe Ibas, chief of naval staff; and Sadique Baba Abubakar, chief of air staff, have had their tenures extended twice.
Also, Ibrahim Idris, inspector-general of police (IGP), who was expected to retire on January 3 after completing a mandatory 35 years in service is still at his job.
The president said, “the head [him] has to be very careful because you don’t know [the] ambition of the ones coming up.”
He said the performance of the service chiefs may be disappointing but he takes responsibility for not changing them.
“My understanding of security is that, when you have a case of emergency, you have to be careful, with tampering with the head of services. This is again one of my personal experiences. I have been a governor, I have been a minister, I have been a head of state, I came back, I tried to come back to this office three times but lucky on the fourth time.
“I am measuring the options critically, when you have a case of emergency, if you don’t wait for an appropriate time to do it, then you create competition within the service, there are so many ambitious people waiting, only one man can be chief of army staff in the army, only one man can be the inspector-general of police. Don’t forget that it was this administration that appointed all the three.
“I didn’t know them on [a] personal basis, I followed records and thought I picked the best then, of course, their performance may be disappointing but I accept responsibility for not changing them. My reason is based on my own experience.”
When asked specifically about the IGP, the president said: “I don’t think I’m afraid of him. I will take action.”
Buhari also accused the governments of Benue and Taraba of giving the killings in their states religious and ethnic undertones.
“You talked of Zamfara and Benue and Plateau, You haven’t mentioned Taraba. The problem which I think are you, the press, television, radio and so on is stabilise the country and ask for responsible reportage and leadership.
“The number of people killed in Taraba and Benue is not up to the number killed in Zamfara state. But then what the leadership of Benue and Taraba was reporting – I may not be reading every article – they were giving it religious and ethnic [undertone] which is very unfair to Nigeria,” President Buhari said.