The immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai (Rtd) has said he owes no one explanation over his recent appointment as one of the non-career ambassadors.
Buratai disclosed this while speaking with journalists after a special gala night organised for him by members of the 29th Regular Course Association of the Nigerian Defense Academy in Abuja on Saturday.
Buratai and other Service Chiefs “voluntarily resigned” their positions on 26 January 2021, after months of calls for their sack following a spate of insecurity in different parts of the country, especially in the northeast, and the seeming failure of the security agencies to contain it.
Buhari had immediately appointed Major-General Leo Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff; Major-General I. Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral A.Z Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff; and Air-Vice Marshal I.O Amao, Chief of Air Staff as replacements.
However, the President released a list of nominees as non-career ambassadors of the country on 4 February 2021, just nine days after their resignation as Service Chiefs.
Consequently, the leading opposition party in the country, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), kicked against the move, calling on the President to withdraw the list.
In a statement by the spokesman of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP described the appointment as a plot to shield the ex-Service Chiefs from investigation over the “killing of innocent Nigerians and crimes against humanity” under their inglorious watch.
PDP also charged the Senate to eschew all partisan considerations and stand on the side of the people.
However, while responding to a question from our reporter (National Times), Buratai said he would not respond to the PDP’s statement, insisting that he is not a politician.
He said: “It’s an honourable retirement and also an honourable appointment.
“I’m not a politician, so I have no word for the opposition.”
‘‘I have done well’
He said he stood out while in charge as the country’s Chief of Staff, saying: “I am happy that in July last year, my officers at the Army headquarters compiled a compendium of my achievements.
“In fact, I can’t even remember all the projects that we have executed. Is it in term of infrastructure? Is it in term of capacity building? Is it in terms of training?
“Since I was appointed, there was never a dull moment in terms of training.
“Remember the various exercises, these are training exercises from ‘Python dance’, ‘Crocodile smile’, and even the latest one ‘Exercise Sahel Sanity’.
“Is it in the area of medical? In terms of education of our children and wards, the Nigerian Army University are all great achievements.
“I think you can write volumes and volumes of books in terms of the achievements depending on the perspectives you want to take.”
Buratai said the impacts of his efforts as the Chief of Army Staff may not be felt immediately.
He, however, insisted that the country would be having highly qualified officers in the next five to 10 years, “who can carry this military profession to higher heights.”
Speaking of the gala night staged in his honour, Buratai said it showed that he did well as the country’s Chief of Army Staff.
“It feels great [to be celebrated by my colleagues] at this point in time.
“It means a lot to me in terms of respect, in term of the show of love.
“It’s something of pride that you have been recognised for the service you have rendered to your nation and people,” he said.
Why Senate shouldn’t confirm ex-Service Chiefs as ambassadors
Meanwhile, a former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, on Sunday, gave reasons why the Senate should not confirm ex-Service Chiefs recently nominated as ambassadors.
Frank, in a statement on Sunday, said approval by the Senate would be contrary to its many resolutions calling for the removal of the ex-Service Chiefs over acute insecurity.
According to him, the confirmation of the ex-commanders would amount to both chambers of the National Assembly returning to their vomit.
He noted that prominent groups in the country have at various times called or supported calls for the sack of the Service Chiefs over their failure to secure the country – humongous annual defence budgetsnotwithstanding.
He urged the lawmakers not to approve the nominations.