Service Chiefs: Marching orders, mismatching outcomes

By Bala Ibrahim

The people of Malumfashi town in Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari have woken up today, to the rocking sound of bomb explosions. Reports have it that no fewer than seven persons have died in the bomb blast, while another five are unconscious at the Malumfashi General Hospital. This is coming only two days after the President had dispatched top security chiefs to interface with stakeholders in Zamfara, on the lingering security challenges in the North West.

Katsina state used to be one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria, but that is only in history. The state is slowly, but violently turning into the den of armed banditry and related crimes, with kidnapping for ransom becoming the order of the day. Today, the state has joined the league of states playing host to the theatre of bomb blasts.

The sad side of today’s attack is the perceived mission of the perpetrators, who seem determined to instil fear in the minds of farmers, so as to scare them away from the farms. According to sources, the explosion came from improvised mines, planted on the farm of one Huseini Maikwai, where children were working in search of grasses for their domestic animals, when suddenly, the device detonated.

Sources say apart from Local Governments like Batsari, Jibia, Danmusa and Safana, Dutsinma, Kurfi and Batagarawa are also gradually becoming extremely vulnerable and virtually too dangerous to live in. These are agrarian areas, with the people almost totally dependent on farming.

Only recently the Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, went into dialogue with the bandits, under an arrangement that resulted in an amnesty for some of the criminals. But the attacks have not subsided. Reports from the state say hardly a day passes without a reported attack, a situation that has made thousands of people to flee their homes and relocate to other areas for safety.

After countless directives and marching orders from the President to the service chiefs, to bring an end to insurgency and insecurity in Nigeria, the President recently, literally admitted their underperformance or unsatisfactory performance, and said, “their best is not good enough,” with a  warning against further deterioration of the security situation in the country.

But even if they have taken the warning serious, the action on ground has not really reflected that, particularly as the situation affects the home state of the President.

Since July 13, 2015, when the President appointed the service chiefs, he has been working with them without change, despite the fact that all of them have long passed their retirement time. The President continues to renew their tenure in office repeatedly, in spite of the visible problems in the security challenges, and the seeming increase in attacks.

It was Albert Einstein, the German-born theoretical physicist that said, “Human beings are creatures of routine. Even the most spontaneous among us stick to a lot of routines and habits in life. For us, it is challenging to try different approaches to the problems in our life”.

Einstein went ahead to say, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. If you want different results than what you’re getting, you have to try different approaches”.

All over the world, scholars have agreed that the things you did yesterday have brought you to the life you have today. If you want something different, you have to do something different today, to create a different life tomorrow. There’s no other way to get there.

It is pursuant to such believed that many people continue to blame the President for his insistence on retaining the present crop of service chiefs. The believe is that they have exhausted their strategies and outlived their performance ability. They ought to have bowed out since.

I went to a secondary school where discipline was taken seriously, such that orders from seniors are respected with military zeal. When the Head student gives directives even to senior prefects, the task becomes a law, that must be fulfilled at all cost. No one can come with excuses. That’s why I find it hard to understand why a Commander in chief, would have to be giving warnings repeatedly without results, to his service chiefs, and at a time the country is at war.

The general expectation is that the president should take action, rather than giving marching orders and warnings that don’t work. It is quite obvious that the service chiefs have overstayed their usefulness, and may only be putting the President in endless embarrassments.

There is no denying the fact that they have tried their best, but at the moment, they are clearly fatigued. Fatigued in physique, fatigued mentally and fatigued in mind, due to stress, that is occasioned by tiredness or weakness of overstay.

By the law of diminishing returns, once one exceeds the threshold of optimum ability, which is the point at which he gives the highest possible level of his performance, or fullest potential, taking exit is the best and most honorable option. Nothing better can come from him, no matter the threats or frequency of warnings from his superiors. He should be made to give way for people who are more prepared for the job. And the military has many of such people everywhere.

It is possible still the President may only summon and give more marching orders to the chiefs, but to me, that may make mockery of the meaning of order, particularly military orders.

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