African Centre for Leadership and Good Governance (ACLG),a non-profit, non-political, pro-democracy platform that focuses on leadership, accountability, transparency, good governance and justice across the African continent has called on the Senate to let former service chiefs take a bow and go in the forthcoming ambassadorial screening.
The group noted that the recent nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari in January 2021, of the former service chiefs as non-career ambassadors, in a letter sent to the National Assembly, has thrown up a lot of issues that were dead and buried.
One week after the resignation and appointments of the former service chiefs as non-career ambassadors, there had been consistent opposition by many across the country, though some support this noble objective, the group said.
ACLG as champions and propagators of transparency, good governance accountability and leadership in Africa views the appointments of General Buratai and the former service chiefs: Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin; Navy Chief, Ibok Ete Ekwe Ibas, Air Chief Sadique Abubakar and the intelligence chief as putting a square peg in a square hole.
“These professionals with several years of experience had distinguished themselves, having served their fatherland meritoriously with patriotism.
It said having critically examined the political undertone, the drum-beats of unfair judgment, the divisiveness in the matter that borders on patriotism, loyalty and national security, there is a cause for concern, and ACLG is forced to ask: When has loyalty, patriotism and selfless service to one’s nation become a crime?
In a press release issued at Lagos by the Executive Director, Dr. Chindo Nkweke and Executive Research Assistant, Hassan Bature Muhammed, the duo said nominating the immediate past service chiefs as non- career ambassadors by the President is in order, that the President exercised his presidential prerogative and has not breached the law or constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
ACLG insists that the National Assembly is under obligation to consider the nominations on the basis of merit, qualification and capacities and that the onus now falls on the Senate to use its screening and approval processes in tandem with the law of the country, to favor these men of tested loyalty and professionalism.
As the nominations mean a reward for hard work and exceptional sacrifices and a service to the nation, the past service chiefs are really worthy ambassadors, who deserve to be honored with the service of further pushing the country forward in foreign relations and international diplomacy.
The group reiterated that their services will be required in global security challenge and counter-insurgency matters across the globe, particularly the Sub-Saharan region, while also bringing their wealth of experience to bear in assisting the country in its insurgency war with Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists.
“We, at ACLG therefore call on the Senate that General Buratai and the former service chiefs should ‘take a bow and go’”.
The release also said that there was no justification for the uproar and criticisms from the section of the country particularly when these chiefs who have distinguished themselves in decimating the Boko Haram insurgents into small pockets and that the country stands to gain global acceptance and mileage as the nominees are seen globally as men of impeccable character, bravery and professional successes.
These men are ready to give their lives for the unity, peace and stability of the continent, stating that the nomination and confirmation by the Senate will be a morale booster for incoming chiefs, including men and officers of the Armed Forces who will renew their commitment to the fight against insurgency, knowing full well the benefits that accrues to loyalty and patriotism.
The statement reads: “The development has been trailed by condemnations with few suggesting that their nominations and subsequent confirmation were to shield them from prosecution, especially by the International Court of Justice (ICC), which is not a fact.
“Whereas the merits outweigh the demerits of the issue at stake and the few calls from sponsored political jobbers and propagandists who are hell-bent to always criticize the government no matter the policy direction in order to be heard so as to score cheap political point and settle personal scores, should be jettisoned and disregarded by well-meaning Nigerians.
“Some of the commentators relied on the Article 29 of Vienna Convention which protects diplomats from arrest and grants them immunity against civil and criminal prosecution while on the contrary non-careers ambassadors do not have immunity so why the hue and cry from fifth columnists and mischief makers who are out to fan the embers of divisiveness by taking advantage of any government appointment or policy direction to vent their anger and frustrations with the system.
“We therefore call on the Senate to handle their huge task and responsibility of thoroughly weighing their options before them and looking at the capacities of these distinguished professionals, who had served the nation selflessly, saying that foreign relations are not based on moralism but much deeper diplomatic issues and facts.
The release added that it is a step in the right direction. The nominations and subsequent confirmation of the former service chiefs by the National Assembly as the actions of government will build citizens’ confidence, engender peace and stability of the country as it will further afford the former service chiefs rare opportunity to advance their experiences, knowledge and professionalism in galvanizing support against the insurgents from foreign country.
It also stated that these men of professional integrity will also assist with strategic tactical warfare plans to end the insurgency and as well reinforce intelligence gathering across the sub-Saharan Africa.