By Clifford Ndujihe, Ben Agande, Dapo Akinrefon & Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA— In an apparent bid to re-jig the nation’s security apparatus in the wave of growing insurgent attacks and suicide bombings, President Muhammadu Buhari, 45 days after assuming office, yesterday sacked all the service chiefs and appointed replacements whom he said were chosen on merit.
The new security helmsmen are Major-General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin (Chief of Defence Staff); Major-General T.Y. Buratai (Chief of Army Staff), Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas (Chief of Naval Staff) and Air Vice-Marshal Sadique Abubakar (Chief of Air Staff). The rest are Air Vice Marshal Monday Riku Morgan (Chief of Defence Intelligence) and retired Major-General Babagana Monguno (National Security Adviser)
This was contained in a statement issued in Abuja by the Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina.
The statement said the new Service Chiefs would hold their appointments in an acting capacity until confirmed by the Senate.
Those relieved of their jobs yesterday include Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki. Others are Chief of Army Staff, Kenneth Minimah; Chief of Naval Staff, Usman Jibrin; and Chief of Air Staff, Adesola Amosu.
Badeh and the former Army, Air Force and Naval chiefs were appointed by former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in January 2014, a month after he sacked the previous top brass.
That followed a daring raid against a military installation in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri, which saw aircraft destroyed and weapons seized.
“The President has relieved the service chiefs, including the heads of the Army, Air Force and Navy of their appointments,” Femi Adesina stated, adding, “President Buhari thanks the outgoing service chiefs and National Security Adviser for their services to the nation and wishes them well in their future endeavours.”
Buratai, from Borno State — the worst affected by the insurgency — has been commander of the new, strengthened regional force against Boko Haram which is due to be deployed later this month.
A new commander for the multi-national force will now be appointed, Adesina said.
You were chosen on merit — Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the appointment of the new Service Chiefs was on merit.
Addressing them shortly after their appointments were announced, the President also called on them to show utmost commitment to their new duties, urging them to regain the lost glory of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
He promised to send their names immediately to the senate for confirmation.
“All of you, including the National Security Adviser, were chosen on merit. Your records gave you the job. Save for the new Chief of Army Staff whom I briefly met at his Command at the Multi-National Joint Task Force, in Chad, I don’t know any of you. Your records recommended you.
“Legally, you are in acting capacity until the National Assembly accepts you. It is only then that you will take the oath of office. Thereafter, we will sit down and talk in more detail,” President Buhari told the new service chiefs.
Their sack long overdue
The move elicited commendations from some eminent Nigerians, who said it was long overdue, given the increasing wave of the Boko Haram insurgency.
The military command has come under heavy criticism for its poor handling of the six-year insurgency that has seen the deaths of more than 15,000 people and forced another 1.5 million to flee their homes.
Under the commanders’ watch, the militants captured swathes of territory, including towns and villages in the remote North-East in its quest to establish a hardline Islamic state.
In addition, the sacked military chiefs were unable to free more than 200 schoolgirls abducted in the North-eastern town of Chibok on April 14 last year, despite repeated promises.
Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks since Buhari became president on May 29, with a wave of raids, explosions and suicide bombings against civilians. About 600 people have been killed since May 29, 2015.
The surge in violence has sparked concern that gains made by the armies of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon against the insurgents since February this year are being eroded.
Profile of the new service chiefs
Major-General T.Y. Buratai – Chief of Army Staff
Major General TY Buratai who hails from Borno State was the Force Commander of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) before his appointment. He has served as Director at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja and also served as the Brigade Commander at 2 Brigade, Nigerian Army Port Harcourt as well as Commander, Joint Task Force, Operation PULO SHIELD. Maj-Gen. Buratai has also served as Commander of the Nigerian Army School of Infantry in Jaji, Kaduna State.
Major-General Babagana Monguno (rtd.) – National Security Adviser
Has worked as Commander, Nigerian Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), in Minna, Niger State.
Major-General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin – Chief of Defence Staff
The new Chief of Defence Staff, Maj.-Gen. Olonisakin (N/6901) hails from Ekiti State. Until his appointment as Chief of Defence Staff , he was the Head of the Nigerian Army Training and Doctrine Command in Minna, Niger State.
Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas – Chief of Naval Staff
He 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. His previous appointments include 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 Chief of Naval Staff, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Navy Holdings Limited.
Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar – Chief of Air Staff
(NAF/1433) hails from Bauchi State. His previous appointments include Chief of Standards and Evaluation, NAF Headquarters; Chief of Defence Communications and Air Officer Commanding, NAF Training Command. Until his new appointment as Chief of Air Staff, he was the Chief of Administration, NAF Headquarters.
DSS hails Monguno’s appointment
Reacting to the appointment, both serving and retired officers of the Department of State Services (DSS) expressed satisfaction with the appointment of Major-General Babagana Monguno as the National Security Adviser over former Chief of Army Staff, General Abdulrahman Dambazzau who had been widely touted as favourite for the job.
Some operatives of the service who spoke with Vanguard shortly after the new set of security chiefs were announced noted that with the appointment of Monguno as the NSA, there is bound to be greater inter-agency co-operation amongst the nation’s security agencies.
They deserved to be sacked—Sagay
Constitutional lawyer, Professor Itse Sagay, SAN, said the decision by the President to sack the NSA and service chiefs was expected.
Sagay said: “In fact, it has taken too long. These were all Jonathan’s men, loyal to Jonathan, who were ready to sabotage the election in order to allow Jonathan re-plan. These are all anti-Buhari and anti-APC people. They should have been sacked long ago. Their sack was overdue, they deserved to be sacked.”
It’s long overdue—Ajulo, LP scribe
Sagay has a soul mate in the National Secretary of the Labour Party, LP, Dr Kayode Ajulo, who also said, ‘’the sack is long overdue, there is nothing unusual in the sack of the service chiefs.”
It’s kudos to Buhari –Ekujumi
Also speaking, the National Chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate (CPPM), Nelson Ekujumi, congratulated President Buhari on the move and urged him to probe the role of the former service chiefs in the war against the Boko Haram insurgency.
His words: “We regard this sack as a long awaited and welcome development which will go a long way in repositioning and enhancing our democracy”.