President Muhammadu Buhari says the performances of the service chiefs may be disappointing but he will continue to take responsibility for their actions.
This is as the President stated that he would soon decide whether to extend or terminate the tenure of the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who is due for retirement.
Buhari said this during an interview with Arise TV which was monitored by our correspondent.
The President said having been a military administrator, minister and head of state, he would not make any hasty decisions.
He said removing the service chiefs in the middle of the fight against insurgency might not be the right decision.
Buhari said, “While fighting insecurity, if you remove the service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police, if you don’t wait for an appropriate time to do it, then you create competition within the service.
“There are many ambitious people waiting within the service but only one man can be the Chief of Army Staff, only one man can be Chief of Air Staff, only one man can be the IG. Don’t forget that it was this administration that appointed them.
“I didn’t know them personally. I followed records and I think I picked the best. Of course, their performances may be disappointing but I accept responsibility for not changing them.”
Asked whether he was considering extending the IG’s tenure, the President burst into laughter, mocking those who had threatened to take action against him if he refused to let Idris retire.
Buhari said, “I don’t think I am afraid of him. And I don’t think I have asked him to mount roadblocks in a place such that I’ll lose revenue (if he goes). But I’ll take action.”
On why those running the nation’s security architecture are mainly from the North, Buhari said loyalty counts in the appointment of service chiefs in the country.
About 14 out of the nation’s 17 security agencies are being headed by northerners, with the majority of them appointed by Buhari.
While addressing the issue on Monday night, Buhari said factors like state of origin were not important when appointing service chiefs.
He said, “I know there is a quota system, but then, if you’re a field op (operative), you have to be very careful, especially in the military where I served for about 20 years.
“You don’t promote people by their state of origin. If you do it, you’re going to get the shock of your life in the sense that the morale will go down so much that the military will become so inefficient.”
The President added, “If you are in charge, you have to be careful of who you put in charge.
“You have to be sure of his loyalty, you have to be sure of his or her commitment to the administration and their acceptability by the commands, and that will be based on the person’s training and experience. It’s a very sensitive issue.”
Buhari also hinted that the Peoples Democratic Party might have a hand in the rising insecurity as the opposition party had looted the nation’s resources and had the means to do anything to discredit his government.
He said, “I am not defending our lack of security but you know after 16 years of the PDP, with the resources I have just mentioned to you, they had enormous resources at their disposal and they will do anything to use the resources at their disposal to discredit this administration.”
He dismissed the suggestions that his government marginalised Igbo people.
Buhari said, “Somebody made an observation that I was not patronising the Igbo from the South-East. I told him that when I won the election, I studied the amount of votes I got from all the geopolitical zones.
“I said I got 198,000 from the whole of the South-East, which virtually any local government can give me. But I appointed ministers of foreign affairs, labour, industries and investment, mines and technology; these four, I never knew them from Adam. Ministers of state from seven states of the North are under these ministers. How fair do you want me to be?”
He challenged the media to expose his wife, Aisha, or his son, Yusuf, if they were found to have benefitted from government deals.
The President said, “It is a very unfair allegation against my integrity. I don’t think… anyway you are in a position to find out and if you do so, I don’t care. Publish it even if my son or my wife has a company or they are involved in deals with customs and excise and so on, bringing in illegal goods or whatever; I challenge you to do that.”
On the former Governor of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio, whose N100bn probe went silent after he joined the All Progressives Congress last year, Buhari said he wasn’t aware of the development.
He said, “I don’t think Akpabio, when he moved to the APC, that I said he should be left alone. I cannot remember asking the EFCC, the ICPC, the police or anybody to spare any corrupt person or incompetent person.
“I haven’t done it and I challenge you to expose any such thing.”
Buhari disagreed with the unemployment statistics which state that over 20 million youths of employable age are idle