The end to wobbling efforts in checkmating security challenges in the country was manifested this Monday when President Bola Ahmed Tinubu sacked former security chiefs and replaced them with persons believed to possess the capacity and determination to tackle the monsters of insurgency that have turned life into a nightmare for many ordinary citizens.
The replacements of the service chiefs came on the heels of the appointment of Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as the Chief of Staff to the President, and Sen George Akume as Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). To demonstrate how low the psyche of many Nigerians has become, many citizens, on hearing the names of the new service chiefs, quickly asked: ‘Where do they hail from?’
That is how low the past eight years have dealt with Nigerians in building mutual distrust among citizens of a nation that witnessed the killing of 63,000 citizens under the watch of former President Muhammadu Buhari. Not only were hundreds of communities decimated in the inferno ignited by these monstrous elements, insecurity turned many into terrified people, awaiting the tormentors who have become the dread of the night.
The appointment of Major-General Christopher Gwabin Musa (Chief of Defence Staff); Major-General Taoreed A. Lagbaja (Chief of Army Staff) Rear Admiral Emmanuel A. Ogalla (Chief of Naval Staff) and Air Vice Marshal Hassan B. Abubakar (Chief of Air Staff) was seen by many Nigerians as a departure from the norm where many insisted was not reflective of federal character.
From the applause that have trailed the appointments of these new service Chiefs, there is no doubt that their appointment is a clear departure from the past and representative of the new dawn where every section of the country is given a new direction. More assuring is the footprints anchored on capacity and courage in the discharge of their duties. A look at the profiles of the new service chiefs gives hope that the nation’s security is now in firm hands under the coordination of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu who was named as the new National Security Adviser (NSA).
Born in Sokoto on December 25, 1967, Major General Christopher Gwabin Musa, who hails from Kaduna State was this Monday appointed the 18th Chief of Defense Staff (CDS). He commenced his primary education in 1974 when he was enrolled at the Marafa Danbaba Primary School, Sokoto. Thereafter, he left for the Model Primary School Dorowa Road, Sokoto, in 1978.
The new CDS got admitted into the Federal Government College, Sokoto, in 1981. After successful completion of his secondary education in 1985, he proceeded to the College of Advanced Studies, Zaria. In the same year, he was enrolled in the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) where he obtained a Bachelor of Science (Hons) and commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant.
The newly appointed CDS, who before his elevation was the Commander of the Infantry Corps, attended the Young Officers Course in Infantry (1993), the Regimental Signal Officers Course (1998-2000); Junior Course at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji (2004-2005); Senior Course at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji (2007 – 2008). General Musa would later obtain an Advanced Diploma in Security Management from the University of Lagos.
From 2012 and 2013, the infantry officer acquired an Advanced Diploma in Defence and Strategies Course, and Masters of Science (Military Science) from the International College of Defence Studies, National Defence University (ICDS-NDU) in Changping, China. He would in 2017 go through Combined Joint Land Component Commander’s Course on Leadership at the US Army War College.
Among some of the positions he has held in the Nigerian Army include the General Staff Officer 1, Training/Operations at HQ 81 Division; Commanding Officer 73 Battalion, Assistant Director Operational Requirements at Department of Army Policy and Plans; Deputy Chief, Staff Training/Operations, headquarters Infantry Centre and Corps; Theatre Commander, ‘Operation Hadin Kai’.
For the new COAS, Major General Lagbaja, he was born on February 28, 1968 in Ilobu, Irepodun Local Government Area of Osun State. He attended St. Charles Grammar School and Local Authority Teachers College The new army chief was admitted into the NDA in 1987 as a member of the 39th Regular Course, and later commissioned as a second lieutenant on 19th September 1992.
He was Platoon Commander of the 93 Battalion (1992-1995), and 72 Special Forces Battalion (19995-2001) Lagbaja acquired a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from the NDA, and later studied Strategic Studies at the US Army War College at the Master’s level. In 2009, he was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff G1 at Headquarters 81 Division and rose to become the Commanding Officer at 72 Special Forces Battalion Makurdi (2012 – 2015).
Some of the top command position he held included the Chief of Staff at Headquarters 8 Task Force Division, Monguno (2016); Director of Operations at the Army Headquarters Department of Army Training and Operations (2018); Commander of Headquarters 9 Brigade, Ikeja, Lagos State, and Headquarters 2 Brigade, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. Before his appointment as the new COAS on June on Monday, General Lagbaja served as General Officer Commanding Headquarters 82 Division (March 2021 – August 2022) and Headquarters 1 Division (August 2022 – June 2023).
From 2008 to 2010, the new COAS attended several courses that include the Military Observers Course on Peacekeeping Wing at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry Jaji and ECOWAS Standby Force Battalion Command Post Course-Peacekeeping Centre, Bamako, Mali (June-August 2010).
General Lagbaja also participated in Operation HARMONY IV in Bakassi Peninsula; United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC); Operation ZAKI Internal Security Operation in Benue State; Operation LAFIYA DOLE; Operation MESA/Operation UDO KA – March 2021-August 2022 , among several military operations.
The new army boss is reputed to have performed creditably well when he spearheaded the Internal Security Operation in South-east Nigeria (Anambra/Abia/Ebonyi/Enugu and Imo States); Operation FOREST SANITY (August 2022-2023) and Internal Security Operation in Kaduna/Niger states where he degraded banditry leading to the reduction of abductions along the Abuja-Kaduna expressway.
Air Vice Marshal Hassan Abubakar was born in Shanono, Kano State, on 11th September 1970. He was enlisted into the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) as a member of NDA regular course 39, when he was commissioned Pilot Officer in September 1992. He appointed the Chief of Standards and Operations, at the NAF headquarter, before his eventual elevation to the position of Chief of Air Staff.
Some of the training courses AVM Abubakar attended included the Basic Flying Training Courses at the 301 Flying Training School Kaduna; Basic and Advance Airborne Courses at Nigerian Army Infantry Center and School Jaji; Company Amphibious Operations Course at Nigerian Army Infantry Center and School in Calabar; Junior and Senior Command and Staff Courses at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji. He attended the National Defence Course at the Nasser Higher Military Academy in Cairo, Egypt, and also acquired a Master’s Degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He was also at Air Force Military School, Jos where he served as Officer Commanding Yellow Squadron and Admin Officer Primary Flying Training Wing – 301 FTS NAF Kaduna; Aviation Planning Officer, MONUC Air Operations Kinshasa, DRC; Commanding Officer Base Services Wing 81 Air Maritime Group Nigerian Air Force Benin; Operations Officer Operational Conversion Unit, 88 Military Airlift Group, Nigerian Air Force, Lagos; Operations Officer, 88 Military Airlift Group, Ikeja, Lagos; Commanding Officer, 21 Wing 88 Military Airlift Group, Lagos; Group Safety Officer, 88 Military Airlift Group, Ikeja, Lagos; Fleet operation officer, 011 Presidential Air Fleet, and Commander 011 Presidential Air Fleet, among other positions.
Rear Admiral Ogalla, the 55-year new Chief of Naval Staff hails from Ezike in Igbo Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State. He obtained the West African School Certificate from Nigerian Military School ,Zaria, in 1987 where he was the best performing best male science student. He obtained B.Sc in Maths, and was named best naval cadet in his 39th Regular Course. Ogalla was at the Basic Hydrography National Hydrographic School in India (November 2001), and later attended the Junior and Senior Staff Courses at Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC), Jaji, (July 2006). He participated at the National Defence Course (NDC) Course 22 and obtained an M. Sc. Strategic Studies at the University of Ibadan (2014 – 2015). He was on board NNS EKUN, to monitor the ceasefire monitoring exercise embarked by ECOMOG. The new Chief of Naval Staff was also in charge of coordinating anti-illegal bunkering operations and also policing the entire area under the watch of the base. During the period he served, there was reduction in illegal activities in the maritime area within the area of his command.
With President Tinubu appointing Nigeria’s most competent officers to spearhead the fight against insecurity threatening the corporate existence of our nation, many are hoping that criminal activities perpetrated by these murderers are set to be something of the past. President Tinubu has shown clearly through these appointments that insecurity under his watch won’t be given oxygen.