The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Garba Shehu, on Tuesday came under attack from elders across the country over his claim that the tenure of Service Chiefs was at the ‘pleasure’ of the Commander-in-Chief.
They described the presidential spokesman’s defense of Buhari’s refusal to sack the security chiefs as shameful, insensitive and unprofessional in the face of rising insecurity in the country.
The elders under the aegis of Conference of Concerned Nigerian Elders (COCNE), maintained that as a seasoned journalist, Garba Shehu ought to, at all material times, weigh his utterances against the general mood of the nation, particularly when discussions centre on the vexed issue of security and public safety.
The elders in a statement by Prof. Tunde Banjo for South West, Dr Achike Nwachukwu for South East, Barr. Jackson Spiff for South South, Alhaji Baba Usman Funtua, North West, Prof. Shehu Bulama for North East and Dr. Isaiah Terhila for North Central zones, respectively, warned the presidential aide against incurring the wrath of citizens who, they said, hardly sleep with both eyes closed, owing to the disturbing state of insecurity in the country.
The statement said: “We are alarmed by a rather reckless, insensitive, shameful and unprofessional statement credited to Garba Shehu, President Muhammadu Buhari’s media adviser, to the effect that the Service Chiefs, who have remained in office despite glaring lacklustral record of performance, serve at the ‘pleasure’ of the Commander-in-Chief.
“We are, indeed, shocked that a senior journalist of Shehu’s standing, who ought to be circumspect in his outings, especially when issues of security and public safety are concerned, would choose to speak in the manner he did.
“We daresay that only those that derive personal benefits from the status quo, will support its retention, as Shehu has continued to shamefully do.
“Shehu and his ilk must be educated on the fact that, though appointed by the President, the Service Chiefs owe their respective positions to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is embodied by the citizens – the task payers’ – from whom they draw their humongous salaries, allowance and other perquisites.”
Shehu, in an interview on a private radio station, Unity FM, in Jos, the Plateau State capital, had said that no part of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) stipulated tenure of military high command.
This was as he further explained that the President, who is the appointing authority, has not acted otherwise, because he had classified and privileged information that critics and those calling for their sack are not privy to.
In the referenced interview, Shehu had said that: “President Muhammadu Buhari is still keeping the Service Chiefs because he is seeing things Nigerians don’t see.
“He’s seeing things that critics are not seeing. It’s not a tenured appointment.
“There is no part of the law that says Chief of Army Staff and others must serve for two years. Then after two years, he must go. He served at the pleasure of the President.”