Nigeria’s new military chiefs: Implications and Expectations

Ogunsakin Mustapha
5 Min Read

By Abubakar Hashim

President Muhammadu Buhari did not receive much accolade for changing Nigeria’s military service chiefs. Many people in Nigeria and the West African sub region has been expecting the change for a very long time.

A Public Analyst, Mr Bayo Ayantoye said: “It it rather too late in the day. I pray we get some desirable impact from these action anyway”. Statements like this which are many, represents the reaction of Nigerians to the change.

The Nigerian legislature severally pleaded with him to change them. When their plea did not work, both House of Representatives and Senate pass a resolution calling on the President to change the Service Chiefs since the security architecture of the country under them is not working. People were been killed massively in the North East, where Boko Haram insurgents turned both the soldiers and the people into soft targets. Farmers and soldiers were not spared.

In the Northwest, particularly in Katsina, the home state of President Buhari, the story was not different. Bandits took over, killing, and maiming people at random. It got to a point that the bandits entered a secondary school and kidnapped about 200 students. Although they were later rescued, the ransom paid was not disclosed.

At a point, a team from the National Assembly, led by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, and Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila met with President Buhari on the issue but he did not bulge.

But the event of the last weekend, where the Southwest people threatened to outlaw the Fulani herdsmen that had been killing,kidnapping, and raping women across the landscape may have changed the resolve of President Buhari. The Fulani are Buhari’s stock. The violets one were alleged to have migrated into Nigeria from other parts of West Africa and they have become a threat that has the potency of turning the whole country to a theatre of war. This must have forced the hand of the President to move against his service chiefs.

In a press release issued by Femi Adesina his media aide, Buhari eventually gave the generals the boot.

Adesina stated: “President Muhammadu Buhari has accepted the immediate resignation of the Service Chiefs, and their retirement from service.

Those involved are the 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;

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 endeavours;

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”.

The change has lots of implications, and expectations for not only Nigeria, but for the Sahel and West Africa

Nigeria accounts 60% of the West African landscape and 70% of its population.

The implications can be construed from two strategic perspectives:

First, the new Service Chiefs are well qualified, young and groomed within Nigerian and advanced military academies.

Second, but more importantly, they were strategically understudying the anomalies of their former bosses and are well acquainted with military formations in and out of the country.

The new leadership, with new equipment in the military already in ground, will prove worthwhile in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency in the country.

They will therefore be expected to come up with a new security architecture that will not only work for the country, but work in conjunction with other neighbours end the Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen threat in the region.

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