Nyesom Wike, Governor of Rivers State Explains.
Reported by :
Clarice Azuatalam, Port Harcourt.
Following what many must have perceived as the meddlesomeness of soldiers in Nigerian politics, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has charged the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru to shape up their image.
Wike who spoke in Port Harcourt when Attahiru visited him said that it is quite despicable to see soldiers who ordinarily should be non- partisan allowing themselves to be political collaborators.
The governor recalled the role allegedly played by the immediate past COAS, Tukur Buratai who according to him “was not only grossly partisan but encouraged other Army officers to become political collaborators.”
This, he noted, resulted to a situation whereby soldiers lost their respects, with some people challenging them in some cases.
Wike said: “In those days when you see a soldier you run.These days, it is difficult because soldiers have been exposed to politics. I want you to make a difference, to say your interest is to protect Nigerians; to fight bandits, to fight insurgency and not to carry ballot boxes.
“It was a big shame, what happened in 2019 in this State. I am sure you must have watched it on television. I am sure you must have watched where the 6 Division turned to INEC office with ballot papers everywhere.”
Such political involvement, Wike said, saw the army attempting to upturn the mandate of Rivers people during the last general elections.
However, Wike encouraged the new COAS to use his experience and level of education to make a difference that will be clear to Nigerians and reshape the image of Nigerian soldiers.
He said: “Ĺet me use this opportunity to say there is a need for you to make a difference, to bring back the respect Nigerians used to have for the armed forces.”
He further challenged the COAS to be more patriotic to the country and stop the role the army and other security agencies play in encouraging non-performance by elected political office -holders.
“If politicians know that soldiers and police officers will not be contracted to rig elections for them, they will be more responsive to the electorate because their votes will count”, Wike said.
“Election in Nigeria is no longer determined by performance. It is determined by you being connected to security agencies and INEC. If it was based on performance you’ll see most politicians will change. If you don’t perform they will vote you out. “
Wike further acknowledged that Attahiru has started off his assignment well, by trying to restore public confidence in the Nigerian army.
He then harped on the need for the withdrawal of army officers drafted as security personnel to guide politicians because it reduces the number of officers available to protect the sovereignty of the country.
“I believe you will show difference, that you are not here for politicians . You’re here to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria. From the little you have done since you came, we are beginning to see the difference, but don’t change,” he stated.
He urged him to continue on the path of professionalism, commit to fighting cultists, insurgents and all criminality, to ensure that Nigeria is safe.
The governor also reiterated that he will never tolerate any secessionist group that wants to use the State as base for its nefarious activities.
“All those who are talking about their independence, they can go anywhere, but not from here. We are not part of any secession.
“We will support the army and other security agencies to make sure they reduce the level of crime and criminality in this State, ” he stated.
Attahiru who spoke earlier said he was in the State on assessment of 6 Division of the Nigerian Army and commended the governor for the prevailing peace and security in the State as well as his zero tolerance for separatist groups.
“I also thank you for your continued non- tolerance approach against separatist groups and also your contribution in promoting peaceful coexistence among the various communities that live in Rivers State,” Attahiru said.