The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday took President Muhammadu Buhari to task over comments by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, on the nation’s security.
The PDP said the comments affirmed its position and those of millions of Nigerians that President Buhari had failed in his duties as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
The PDP, in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, maintained that the blame of insecurity must be placed at the doorsteps of the president, who was under oath as the commander-in-chief, to ensure the security of lives and property, but had failed even in his own promise to lead from the front.
“Mr. President, as chief security officer of the nation, should not hide under an army chief to push blames when he had failed to take appropriate steps to secure the nation and refused to heed wise counsel by well-meaning Nigerians to reorder his parade and rejig the nation’s security architecture for effectiveness.
“Instead, the Buhari presidency had carried on with endless lip service, empty assurances, unnecessary blame game, and obvious lack of tact, while the nation is being ravaged,” the party said.
The party said that the soldiers at the war front should not be blamed for the escalating insecurity in the country.
It added: “There is no doubt that despite the cluelessness of the Buhari presidency, our fighting troops have remained gallant, patriotic, making sacrifices and risking their lives in defending the country.
“One would expect that under the prevailing situation, a commander-in-chief should have risen up to the occasion, step up actions, resolve the issues and ensure that all efforts are galvanised to provide all necessary requirements for our troops combating insurgency and other acts of violence against our nation.”
The party urged the military and “our gallant fighting troops not to relent at this critical time,” noting that Nigerians seriously appreciated the sacrifices they were making to secure the nation.
The PDP also called on the National Assembly to save the situation by immediately using its legislative instruments to intervene in the interest of the nation.
Meanwhile, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai on Monday denied indicting commanders and soldiers of lack of commitment to ongoing counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in the North-East.
He claimed that he was quoted out of context.
Buratai had at a leadership transformational workshop for middle cadre officers and soldiers in Abuja on June 18 said that some setbacks in operations in recent times stemmed from “insufficient commitment’’ by those at the frontlines.
“It is unfortunate, but the truth is that almost every setback the Nigeria army has had in our operations in recent times can be traced to insufficient willingness to perform assigned tasks.
“Or simply, insufficient commitment to a common national/military course by those at the frontlines.
“Many of those on whom the responsibility for physical actions against the adversary squarely falls are yet to fully take ownership of our common national or service course,’’ he had said.
But, responding to a question when he visited Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno in Maiduguri on Monday, Buratai said: “Let me categorically say that I never said in my remarks that the troops lack commitment.
“It was completely wrong and I want to believe that somehow, I was quoted out of context and probably with element of mischief.
“If you read that remark which was published on our website, you will see that there is nothing like lack of commitment.
“Some have even gone beyond that and quoted me as saying that the troops are cowards. This is far, far from the truth,’’ he said.
The army chief said it was unfortunate that some journalists and indeed, newspaper houses went to the extent of distorting fact.
He recalled that the statement was made at a training workshop to re-assess operations and find solutions to the challenges being faced in order to do better.
“Counter-insurgency is a complex operation; it is quite fluid,’’ he said, adding that in such operation, “you deal with enemy that you cannot easily identify.