By Our Correspondents
In what appeared to be a major shakeup in the nation’s military high command President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday accepted the immediate resignation of the service chiefs, and their retirement from service.
Accordingly, he appointed Major-General Leo Irabor as the new chief of defence staff; Major-General I Attahiru as the new chief of army staff; Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo as the new chief of naval staff, and Air-Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao, chief of the air staff.
A statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, to this effect noted that the president commended the former chief of defence staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; chief of army staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai; chief of naval staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, and chief of air staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar for what he described as their overwhelming achievements.
Adesina said, “President Buhari thanks the outgoing service chiefs for what
he calls their “overwhelming achievements in our efforts at bringing
enduring peace to our dear country,” wishing them well in their future
“The new service chiefs are: 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.
“The President congratulates the new service chiefs, and urges them to
be loyal and dedicated in the discharge of their responsibilities”.
Regional Bodies Hail President, Set Agenda For New Military Chiefs
Also in their reaction, the apex socio-cultural organisations in the country applauded the president for the changes in the military.
Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) said the cries for this change were everywhere.
Setting agenda for the new service chiefs, ACF said, “We only hope that the new chiefs will justify the confidence the president has placed in them. When President Muhammadu Buhari came into office as the president, we at ACF had expected him to sort out the security
problems of Nigeria speedily. Of late, we have complained endlessly about his security failures. We only pray his new security chiefs will serve him and Nigeria better.”
In their reaction, the pan Yoruba Socio-cultural organization, Afenifere said the replacement of service chief no longer elicited any excitement because it is a belated exercise.
Afenifere’s spokesman, Comrade Yinka Odumakin said, “There is no excitement in the land, the long stay of those service chiefs have been of many disadvantages to Nigerians.
On its part, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) noted thatbthe decision of President Buhari has finally acceded to the huge demands made by Nigerians for the replacement of the nation’s
service chiefs as a step towards addressing the serious shortfalls in
the nation’s policing and security institutions.
Also, a factional leader of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Ugorji Nwabueze, stated that first the thing is to curtail insurrection and perhaps find out why the former service chiefs couldn’t contain them.
He urged the newly appointed service chiefs to find a way of stopping other
splinter groups from emerging. “Before now we don’t used to hear about banditry. Today why are we hearing that?”
Meanwhile, the youth wing of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Youth
Council (OYC), while describing the changes as a welcome development,
urged the new military chiefs to intensify efforts in arresting the spate of
insecurity across the country.
The national president of OYC, Comrade Igboayaka Igboayaka, urged
the new service chiefs to be proactive in tackling security challenges in the
country and work out an intensified feedback mechanism in securing the
Also, the North Central People’s Forum (NCPF), in its reactions through its
secretary-general, Alhaji Khalil Bolaji, said it was still studying the new
appointees, their experiences and pedigrees before it would make a
definite comment on their appointments.
Also commenting, a renowned labour leader, Comrade Issa Aremu
said, “It is better late than never. It shows that President Muhammadu Buhari
has listened to the popular demand by Nigerians.”
Setting agenda for the new service chiefs, Aremu said, “We need new
approach, new strategies that will build on the gains already recorded
by the former service chiefs. I want to advise the new service chiefs
to cooperate more with other security agencies, including the State
Security Service and the Police so that we can speedily put an end to
our security challenges.”
Also, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and the Unity House Foundation (UHF) have described the sack of the service chiefs as long overdue.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt, PANDEF’s national publicity
secretary, Ken Robinson, expressed the hope that the new appointees
would discharge their duties and responsibilities professionally,
without biases and tendencies, in the best interest of the country.
Also, UHF convener, Kingsley Wenenda Wali, expressed doubt that the new service chiefs would solve the country’s security challenges.
But, the minority leader of the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe, who spoke on behalf of PDP Senators in the National Assembly, said Nigerians had longed for
fresh hands to wage the war against rising insecurity in the country.
He also expressed hope that the newly appointed service chiefs would
live up to the expectation of the people
In its reaction, the House of Representatives spokesperson, Hon Benjamin Kalu,
said that the change was a step in the right direction and that the choice and desire of the Nigerian people was for a change in the security architecture of those who secure Nigeria.
Kalu said the new service chiefs would be driven by new motivation to increase the pace towards achieving what the government needs to realise as the fundamental role of governance.
Meanwhile, civil society groups, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre
(CISLAC) and the Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa
(PAACA), have set agendas for the newly appointed service chiefs.
In separate statements, the two groups suggested ways the newly appointed
service chiefs can address the nation’s security challenges.
CISLAC executive director, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said the credentials of the new chiefs suggest that they are well
experienced in tactical and strategy which are the immediate fresh
breath that is required to engage going forward.
On its part, the executive director of PAACA, Ezenwa Nwagwu, said in
the immediate, they should tame insurgency, tackle head-on kidnapping,
banditry and violent crimes as well as restore confidence of people on their safety.
An elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, also commended the president
for taking a bold step in removing the service chiefs against all odds.
Yakasai made the disclosure in interview with our reporter in Kano shortly after the naming of the new Service Chiefs.
Support New Service Chiefs, APC Charges Nigerians
Meanwhile, reactions have continued to pour over the latest appointment of the service chief, with the governing All Progressive Congress (APC) leading the pack.
APC called on Nigerians to support the newly appointed service chiefs in the discharge of their duties of protecting the territorial integrity of the nation.
APC also cautioned against looking at security issues through ethnic
lenses, saying it is “counterproductive and dangerous.”
A statement signed by the party’s national secretary, caretaker/extraordinary convention planning committee (CECPC), Sen
John AkpanUdoedeghe said was confident that the new service chiefs
will consolidate on the “remarkable achievements of their predecessors”.
Ensure Professionalism In Military, Sack Terrorists, PDP Tasks New Service ChiefsS Similarly the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) urged the new service chiefs to take urgent steps to restore professionalism, boost the morale of the troops and ensure not to fall into the indolence, corruption, recklessness, abuse of process and partisanship.
PDP also urged them to remove terrorists, bandits and other outlaws
ravaging the nation.
The party stated this while describing the appointment of new service
chiefs by President Buhari as rather late in the day when much harm had already been done to national security.
The party said the belated replacement of the outgoing wearied service
chiefs after much damage to the nation showed President Buhari as a
leader who has always refused to heed to wise counsel by well-meaning
Nigerians but continually leads the country to a dire strait.
A statement by the national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan,
said. “Such unpatriotic, self-conceited and narrow-minded approach to
leadership is responsible for the escalated insecurity and avoidable
loss of lives; economic recession with excruciating hardship as well
as widened divisions in our land under Buhari’s watch.”
Briefs On The New Service Chiefs
Chief of Defence Staff: Major General Leo Lucky Irabor
Major General Lucky Eluonye Onyenuchea Irabor was born on 5 October 1965 in Aliokpu Agbor, Ika South local government area of Delta state.
He enlisted into the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Kaduna as a member of the 34 Regular Course in1983 and was commissioned Second Lieutenant on 28 June 1986 into the Signals Corps of the Nigerian Army.
Major General Irabor attended several military and civil courses both locally and abroad.
He held several appointments in the course of his career, notably, Theatre Commander Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Force Commander MNJTF, Chief of Defence Training and Operations and until his appointment as the Chief of Defence Staff was the Commander Training and Doctrine Command Nigerian Army.The senior officer is married and blessed with children.
Chief of Army Staff Major: Major General Ibrahim Attahiru
Major General Ibrahim Attahiru was born on August 10, 1966. He hails from Kaduna North local government area of Kaduna State and a member of the Regular Course 35 of the Nigerian Defence Academy.
Before his appointment as the Chief of Army Staff, he was the General Officer Commanding 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu.
He was also a former Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole. He took over from Major General Leo Irabor.
Chief Of The Air Staff: Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao was born on September 14, 1965 at Enugu. He hails from Oshogbo local government area of Osun state.
He enlisted into the Nigerian Air Force on 19 January 1984 as a member of 35 Regular Course at the Nigerian Defence Academy and was commissioned as Pilot Officer on 20 December 1986.
Air Vice Marshal Amao attended the courses both in Nigeria and abroad. He has held several appointments, including deputy theatre commander (Air) Operation LAFIYA
DOLE, and chief of Policy and Plans Nigerian Air Force.
He was the Commandant, Armed Forces Resettlement Centre, Lagos before his new appointment.
He is married to Mrs Elizabeth Olubunmi Amao and the union is blessed
with three boys.
Chief of Naval Staff: Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo
Rear Admiral AZ Gambo who was born on April 22, 1966 hails from
Nasarawa local government area of Kano State. He enlisted into the
Nigerian Navy on September 24, 1984 as a member of Regular Course 36
and was commissioned Sub-lieutenant on 24 September 1988.
He is an underwater warfare specialist with a sub specialisation in
intelligence. The senior officer has attended several military courses, including but not limited to Sub-Technical course and officers long course both at Nigerian Navy Ship QUORRA.
Until his recent appointment as the Chief of Naval Staff, he was the
director of procurement at the Defence Space Agency.
He is married to Hajiya Nana Aishat Gambo and the union is blessed
with three children.