By Stephen Ubanna
At long last President Muhammadu Buhari has bowed to pressure from both official circles and unofficial circles to remove Gabriel Olonisakin, an army General and Chief of Defense Staff, CDS, Yusuf Tukur Buratai, a Lt. General and Chief of Army Staff, Sadiq Abubakar, an Air Marshall and Chief of Chief Air Staff . The last but the list of the old service Chiefs removed were Ibok –Ete kwe Ibas, Chief of Naval State.
Femi Adesina, Senior Special Assistant to the Katsina state born Nigerian President who broke the cheering news to Nigerians on Tuesday, January, 26, 2021, had said that the Nigerian President has approved the appointment of Leo Irabor, an Army Major General and an indigene of Edo state, south-south Nigeria as the new CDS,. Until his appointment as the new CDS, Irabor was the Theatre Commander of the antiterrorism war Code name name, ‘’ Operation Lafyle Dole. Ibrahim Attahru, also a Major General and now Chief of Army Staff was the General Officer Coomanding, GOC, 82 Division, Ibadan, Oyo state, south west Nigeria. Also on the list of the new service chiefs were Awwal Zubairu Gambo, a Rear Admiral and Chief of Naval Staff while Isiaka Oladayo Amao, a Vice Marshall, is the Chief of Air Staff.
While appreciating their retirement after more than 35 years in the service, the Nigerian President had thanked the old service Chiefs over what he described as ‘’their overwhelming achievements in the government’s efforts at bringing enduring peace to the nation’’. He had wished them well in their future endeavours.
Given the circumstances that had brought the new service chiefs into office which enjoys nation-wide support, he has urged the new appointees ‘’to be loyal and dedicated in the discharge of their new responsibilities’’.
Prior to the removal of the old service Chiefs by the Nigerian President, there had been repeated calls by the National Assembly , urging him to do so. The killing of the 44 rice farmers in Zamara village in Borno state by the Islamic Fundamentalists, BokoHaram, may have strengthened the resolve of the Lawam Ahmad led All Progressive Congress dominated Senate to call for the sack of the service chiefs and introduction of fresh hands with fresh ideas.
The argument of the Lawmakers was that the military in conjunction with the other security agencies between 2015 and now have not been able to quell the insurgency affecting the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe in spite of the slogan by the government officials, including the President, himself, that that the insurgents have been technically defeated.
Ahmad , the Senate President, may have known that the Nigerian that the Nigerian President would sack the old service as far back as last December when he assured the Lawmakers not to not to worry over the country’s security as the President will implement their resolution as regards to the removal of the replacement of the old service services with fresh hands. ‘’ He had said that the demands are not frivolous that the Buhari, will not implement them. The Senate President assurance may have given the Lawmakers the optimism that the days of the old service chiefs were numbered.
The northern elders appears to have had an insight that the retired army General, President and Commander –In-Chief of the armed Forces , would sack the service chiefs. They had expected the Nigerian to lace his New Year to Nigerians with the sack of the old service Chiefs, but were disappointed that he failed to yield to call of Nigerians to sack the service chiefs who had outlived their usefulness. The northern elders who could not hide their feelings had said that the old security Chiefs had worsened the security situation in the north , as it had emboldened the Criminals, Bandits and insurgents to carry out their nefarious attacks on the villages following the ‘’kid approach policies that that had been adopted by the security in dealing with them.
They had insisted that for a new positive result, there must be an immediate change of guard that reflect the Federal Character Principles’’. Particular, the north east elders , had said that the old service chiefs not indispensable and therefore, must be replced. Zana Goni, an Engineer, and National Coordinator of the north east Elders Forum had said that ‘’the continued retention of the old service Chiefs many years after the expiration of their retirement date was not only unconstitutional but had weaked the morale of the military personnel and the front line troops’’. The may have matters worse for them whem when they said that their continued stay in office was not adding value to the nation’s security management team’’.
Goni and the other north east elders who could not hide their feelings had asked the Nigerian President to listen to the voice of reason by relieving the old security chiefs of their offices, and increase defense budget, stressing that it is the only way for Nigeria to regain its security gloriousness which had been lost over the years.
Even Babaga Zulum, a Professor who has been described as the weeping governor of Borno, who has been ambushed twice by the Insurgents along the Bama –Maiduguri road, had repeatedly called for the sack of the old service Chiefs The governor had said that the call was necessitated by the risising wave of insecurity in the north east, particular, his home state Borno.
An aggrieved governor had said that the rising wave of insecurity in the region and the country in general was ‘’portraying the Buhari Administration in bad light given his Oath of Office to protect Lives and Prperty’’. The governor who could not hide his feelings had said that the attack on a Chief security officer of a state was a clear indication that ‘’no one was safe in the country’’, urging the Nigerian President to take action towards reposing the people’s Confidence in the government by sacking the service Chiefs.
Recall that Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, had said last December the massacre of 44 rice farmers in Borno state was enough reason for the Nigerian President to sack the old service Chiefs , insisting that that ‘’savage killings was a signpost of incompetence and ineptitude on the part of those in power’’. Falana, who is the National Coordinator of Alliance for the Survival of COVID 19, and Beyond, ASCAB, had urged the Nigerian President to take drastic action by sacking the service Chiefs. The retired army General , may have ignored all the calls as Adesina, his Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity , had said that he would’’ sack the service Chiefs at his own time’’. True to Adesina’s words. He may have done so at his own on Tuesday, January 26, 2021, when all hopes had been lost.Appearing on Channels Television to Comment on the replacement of the old service Chiefs , no sooner the action the action was taken, he had said , the President knew the time to sack the service Chiefs and Ibelieve ‘’the time has come and that is why he has done it’’.
He had faulted the claims that their resignation was as a result of a number of security failures under their tenure or a result of pressure mounted on the government for the sack of the service Chiefs. Hope Uzodimma, a one time Senator, Federal Republic of Nigeria and now governor of Imo state on the ticket of the APC, had said that the appointment of the new service Chiefs by the Nigerian President have clearly shown that he is a ‘’responsive leader who listens to the yearnings of the people’’. The Imo state governor who has Congratulated the Buhari for appointing the new service Chiefs has urged them ‘’to ensure they live up to the expectations of their portfolios’’.
Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers state on the Platform of the Opposition People’s Democratic, PDP, who has been described by Rochas Okorocha, a one-, time governor of Imo state on the ticket of APC and now a Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria as one of Nigeria’s most Controversial governors, whose pictures has mysteriously appeared as a Presidential Candidate in the upcoming 2023, Presidential elections may have live up to Okorocha impression of him. Instead of Congratulating the new service Chiefs, he has cautioned them against politicizing the state of security by making alliances,’’, an indication that the former service Chiefs may have failed in his own thinking because they politicized security issues and formed alliance with the ruling APC .
Paulinus Nsirim, the state Commissioner for Communication may observed some lapses in the governor’s remarks over the new service Chiefs that he quickly issued a Statement stressing that ‘’Buhari deserves Commendation for ‘’finally listening to the voice of the people’’. The new service Chiefs are expected to wear their new ranks to match their new offices soon. Irabor, a Major General, and the new CDS, is mostly likely to wear a four Star General rank, as the most senior officer in the team which the other service Chiefs would wear three Star General ranks, rank last won by their predecessors.