By KINGSLEY OMONOBI
Following the retirement of Service Chiefs and the appointment of new ones by President Goodluck Jonathan, Generals in the Army and their equivalent in the Navy and Airforce may have signified their intention to quit the armed forces to escape compulsory retirement.
The President had, on Thursday, appointed Major General Kenneth Tobiah Jacob Minimah as the new Chief of the Army Staff, COAS, Rear Admiral Usman Jibrin as the new Chief of the Naval Staff, CNS, and Air Vice Marshal Adesola Amosun as the new Chief of Air Staff while Air Marshal Alex Badeh was elevated to the position of Chief of the Defence Staff. Until the new appointments, Badeh was the Chief of the Air Staff.
Jibrin, a member of course 24 of the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), and Minimah and Amosun, members of course 25, are, by military tradition junior, to those of Courses 23, 22 and 21 intakes of the NDA many of whom are still serving in different capacities, but no longer fit into the unfolding dispensation as they should ordinarily not take orders from the junior. Sources put the number of affected Generals at about 50.
Among them are General Officers Commanding, Air Officers Commanding and Flag Officers Commanding, Corps Commanders, Principal Staff Officers at Defence and Services Headquarters as well as Commandants of tri-service and military training institutions.
It was gathered that of the lot, many of the generals, who requested for extension of stay in service and were awaiting approval from the Army, Navy or Airforce Councils citing certain reasons, have now realized the futility of such request getting favourable response from the new service chiefs hence they have resorted to not only withdrawing the letters of extension but replacing them with request for voluntary retirement.
While most of the Course 21 and 22 regulars are at the Defence Headquarters, there are lots of Course 23 and 24 intake officers at tri-service institutions, services headquarters and Corps Commands that fall into this category.
“Many of the officers are putting in their resignation letters because they can’t see themselves stooping low to salute their juniors (new service chiefs) whom they have been ditching out orders to over the years hence the honourable thing is to resign”, the source said.
Moreover, with the amount of reactivation of equipment in the services under the watch of the former service chiefs vis a vis the Army, Navy and Airforce, which has seen more planes flying, more Armoured Personnel Carriers and Artillery equipment criss-crossing the length and breadth of the nation as well as the revamping of the Nigerian Navy fleets, the new service chiefs will want to work with younger Generals who would key into their new way of thinking.
Minimah, from Opobo Kingdom in Opobo/Nkoro local government area of Rivers State, was commissioned on 18 December 1981 into the Infantry Corps and was at several times Commandant Depot, Nigerian Army, Commanding Officer, Nigerian Battalion 2, United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, Brigade Commander, 1 Brigade Sokoto, Director of Standards and Combat Readiness and GOC 81 Division before his appointment as Commander, Infantry Corps.
Jibrin, from Okura Lafia in Dekina local government area of Kogi State, is a specialist navigation and direction officer. He was, at different times, Defence Adviser, Yaoundé, Flag Officer, Sea Training Command, Chief Staff Officer, Naval training Command, naval Secretary, Chief of Logistics, FOC East and Director of Training at Defence headquarters before his appointment as CNS. Amosun, who hails from Lagos, is a seasoned pilot with over 6, 200 flying hours of several airforce aircraft including the Alpha jet, Falcon 900, Gulfstream 5, Donier 128-6 and Donier 228 airplanes.