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Mixed Reactions As Buhari Names New Service Chiefs, NSA

Nigeria Service Chiefs

In a sweeping shakeup of the nation’s security sector, President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday approved the appointment of new service chiefs and a National Security Adviser.

The appointments of the new service chiefs were contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina.

Adesina later told one of our correspondents that the appointment of new service chiefs was part of the government’s strategies to crush the Boko Haram insurgency.

Buhari had earlier in the day sacked the service chiefs and the NSA he inherited from ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

The new appointees, according to Adesina’s statement, are, Chief of Defence Staff, Maj.Gen. Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin; Chief of Army Staff, Maj.Gen. T.Y. Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar; and Chief of Defence Intelligence, Air Vice Marshal Monday Riku Morgan.

They replaced former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh; former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah; former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin; and former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, who were all sacked earlier on Monday.

The new NSA is Maj.Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.). He replaced Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.)

Meet the new men of power

The new CDS, Olonishakin (N/6901) hails from Ekiti State and until his appointment, was the Head of the Nigerian Army Training and Doctrine Command in Minna, Niger State.

The new CAS, Buratai, hails from Borno State. He was, until his new appointment, the Commander of the Multinational Joint Task Force, which has its headquarters in Ndjamena, Republic of Chad.

Buratai had previously served as Commander of the Nigerian Army’s 2nd Brigade in Port Harcourt, Rivers State; and Commander of the Nigerian Army School of Infantry in Jaji, Kaduna State.

The new CNS, Ibas (NN/0746), hails from Cross River State. He enlisted into the Nigerian Defence Academy as a member of the 26th Regular Course in 1979 and was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant in 1983.

Ibas had previously served as the Naval Provost Marshal; Chief Staff Officer, Naval Training Command; Chief of Administration, Naval Headquarters; Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command and Chief of Logistics, Naval Headquarters. Until his appointment as the CNS, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Navy Holdings Limited.

The new Chief of Air Staff, Abubakar (NAF/1433), hails from Bauchi State. Before his new appointment, he had previously served as Chief of Standards and Evaluation, NAF Headquarters; Chief of Defence Communications and Air Officer Commanding, NAF Training Command. He was the Chief of Administration, NAF Headquarters, until his new appointment.

The new Chief of Defence Intelligence, Morgan, hails from Benue State. He was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force as a Pilot Officer in June, 1982. He once served as the Air Officer Commanding, NAF Logistics Command.

The new NSA was a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy’s 21st Regular Course.

Before his retirement from the Army, he held several command and staff appointments including, Commander, Guards Brigade; Deputy Commandant, National Defence College; Chief of Defence Intelligence, Chief of Defence Logistics and Commander, Training and Doctrine Command.

Adesina said the new service chiefs would hold their appointments in an acting capacity until confirmed by the Senate.

He quoted the President as thanking the outgoing service chiefs and the NSA for their services to the nation and wished them well in their future endeavours.

Buhari had similarly sacked the former Director-General of the Department of State Services, Ita Ekpenyong, last week and immediately announced Lawal Musa Daura as the replacement.

Daura, 61, from Katsina State, returned to the government secret service from retirement.

‘President in a hurry’

Meanwhile, the Labour Party, in one of the reactions to the sacking of the former service chiefs, said on Monday that Buhari acted in a hurry.

The National Chairman of LP, Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, in a statement in Abuja, said, “It is my candid opinion that Mr. President should have exercised a little restraint in sacking the service chiefs; he should not have taken that action in a hurry. He should have considered the totality of what is on ground. But the fact of the matter is that his action may have also been informed by the security report he had. We do not know what is available to him, which made him take that action hastily the way he did it.

“But whatever the information in possession of the President, it is our candid opinion that the President should have waited for some time, to still try the service chiefs before they were bundled out of office. Buhari should have waited because he seems to be acting on the basis of trial and error. Probably, they must have advised him regarding the removal of checkpoints.

“Buhari made pronouncements and removed the checkpoints; no sooner had he removed the checkpoints, then insecurity escalated and Boko Haram started unleashing terror. The government had to eat its word and returned the checkpoints. It is not good enough for a government that has been advocating change.”

‘New chiefs overdue’

But security experts endorsed the sack of the former service chiefs by the President, noting that the sack had been long overdue.

A retired Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Tsav, noted that the former service chiefs were partisan, stressing that Jonathan “spoilt them with money and there was no control or supervision.”

He noted that the new service chiefs might perform better than their predecessors, adding that he learnt that the new chiefs were core professionals.

A security analyst, Ben Okezie, said the sack of the erstwhile security chiefs was the right thing any new Commander-in-Chief would do.

Okezie said, “Sacking the service chiefs is the right thing any new Commander-in-Chief would do. Why it was delayed was because they were prosecuting an asymmetrical war and the President was understudying them so that he could know how to plan with the new security chiefs.

“I don’t know much about the new security chiefs until we study their antecedents and know their track records. Using the NSA to judge the others, one can say Buhari must have done his research well before appointing them. The appointment of the NSA shows that the President knows what he is doing.”

Also, the National Coordinator of the All Progressives Congress United Kingdom, Mr. Ade Omole, commended Buhari for sacking the service chiefs.

“It will help boost the morale of our valiant soldiers who are battling Boko Haram,” Omole said.

‘Buhari never removed checkpoints’

But Adesina said Buhari never ordered the dismantling of military checkpoints, contrary to the stories making the rounds.

He said the President’s directive was that soldiers should be removed from checkpoints located in non-essential areas.

Adesina said, “Military checkpoints were never taken away in the first place. I was at that meeting where the President gave an instruction on what to do with the military checkpoints. He never said they should be dismantled.

“What he said was that they should remove soldiers from checkpoints in non-essential areas. The President gave an account in that meeting. He said one day before he became President, he was coming from Minna and shortly before entering Abuja, the many lanes on the road merged into one lane and there was a long traffic.

“He said when he eventually got to the point where the problem started, he saw one soldier who stood there and was just controlling traffic. He said he parked and introduced himself to the soldier and asked him if what he was doing was effective because he was just waving vehicles to pass.

“So, the President said if those manning the checkpoints had equipment to detect things, it is better. He said they should remove soldiers from non-essential checkpoints because the soldier that he saw was not better than a traffic warden.

“He said they should not reduce soldiers to traffic wardens when they can use them in some other places. Checkpoints were never dismantled.”

The President’s spokesman said it would be wrong and unfair for anybody or group to insinuate that Buhari had not been concerned about the increasing cases of attacks by members of the Boko Haram sect in parts of the country.

He told one of our correspondents on Monday that the Buhari administration was determined to end the insurgency as soon as possible and that a lot was being done to achieve this.

He said the Monday’s change of the nation’s service chiefs and the NSA by the President was also part of the strategies aimed at tackling the sect.

He said, “A lot is being done by this administration to end terrorism in affected parts of the country.

“This rejig of the security apparatus is not unconnected because fresh impetus and energy will be needed to tackle insurgency.

“So, nobody can say this government is not concerned about the spate of bombings and killings. Nobody can say that this government is not determined to end insurgency.”

Adesina said the President had spent the better part of his first two weeks in office working hard to find a solution to the problem.

No word from new chiefs

The newly-appointed service chiefs and the new NSA on Monday declined comments on their new status.

Shortly before their appointments were formally announced, they were summoned to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, for a meeting with President Buhari.

While that meeting was going on, the former NSA, Dasuki, was driven into the premises.

He went into the President’s office and left after about 15 minutes.

While the meeting was underway, the appointments were made public.

By the time they emerged from that meeting with the President, the new service chiefs and the NSA declined comment when State House correspondents approached them.

When they were asked what they would be bringing on board, especially with the increasing cases of attacks in parts of the country, the NSA pointed to the new CDS.

The CDS however kept mum. But when reporters persisted in hearing from the new men of power, the new NSA simply said, “We will talk later” and walked briskly out of the premises.

Retirements loom in the Army

The appointment of Buratai as the new Chief of Army Staff would lead to possible retirements in the Army because there is a difference of five years in hierarchy between the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah, and his successor.

Apart from a few members of the Course 25 who are still in the service, there are also other officers from Courses 26, 27, 28 and 29. Buratai’s emergence may affect some of them.

Investigations revealed that about 30 major generals who are either senior in hierarchy or who belonged to the same course as Buratai may retire from the service.

It is the tradition of the Army that a senior is not left in the service to salute his subordinate.

A source, who confided in one of our correspondents, said that not all the major generals in that hierarchy would go as some of them who are junior to the Chief of Defence Staff, who is of Course 26, could be moved to the Defence Headquarters and other tri-service institutions of the Armed Forces.

However, the situation could be different in the Nigerian Navy where the new chief, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, who belonged to Course 26 and the predecessor, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, of Course 24, have only a few officers between them.

It was learnt that about five senior officers between the two were retired recently thereby giving the indication that the appointment might not culminate in retirements in the Navy.

A similar situation obtains in the Air Force as the new chief, who belonged to the Cadet Military Training, Course 5, is rated as a Course 26 member, which is the immediate junior to his predecessor, Vice Marshal Adesola Amosu, of Course 5,

A security source said on Monday that all those who belonged to the same Course as the former Air Chief would retire with him, except Air Vice Marshal Monday Morgan, who has been appointed the new Chief of Defence Intelligence.

Source: Punch

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