Mixed reactions as President names new service chiefs, NSA

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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.
Culled: punchng.com

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