January 30, 2021

What you didn’t know about new Service Chiefs


By Kingsley Omonobi, Abuja

Lucky Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff – How Borno indigene foretold his elevation in 2016

In 2016, Ibrahim Uba Yusuf, an indigene of Borno was so impressed with new Chief of Defence Staff Lucky Irabor that he declared him his man of the year in a local publication in Maiduguri. 

Before then, the entire Sambisa Forest had fallen to Gboko Haram but Irabor led the operations that recovered greater part of the forest. Yusuf celebrated Irabor this way: “The year 2016 is remarkable to not only the people of Borno or North East but also the whole of Nigeria because of the fall of camp and hideout of the Boko Haram leader Shekau in Sambisa.

 The raid on Sambisa by our gallant troops is what no money can pay for.

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 As we bid farewell, once and for all to 2016 and all that it had, my man of 2016 is Major General Lucky Irabor, the 3rd Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, North East, Nigeria.

Many readers and followers of my commentary will wonder why this went to Maj. Gen. Irabor rather than Lt. Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai. The choice is simple and not far-fetched.

To start with, Major General Lucky Irabor, an engineer and officer of the Nigerian Army Corps of Signal has been at the frontline of a ferocious battle for quite a long time and among others, the brain behind the establishment of the Theatre Command, Operation Lafiya Dole.

The history of the Theatre, is not, therefore, complete without his name. He has remained, truly, if unfortunately, an unsung hero of the Nigerian Army even though he is among the finest of them—but, at the end, it is history that will judge him.

The recovery of Sambisa and other territories hitherto under the control of Boko Haram was possible due to his commanding styles.

Based on the foregoing, I crown the smallish in size but the ‘Mazan Fama’ Major General Lucky Irabor as my man of the year 2016. I pray to God to grant him every success, lift him to the peak of his career and bless him with long life so that our children would celebrate him at his old age for making sure they didn’t witness the ugly experience of taking over a local government, displacement of people and frequent attacks on public places.

Thank you Major General Irabor, you are a rare and really patriotic soldier of the Nigerian Army.

 This ‘prophesy?’ came to pass on Tuesday 27th January 2021 when President Muhammadu Buhari announced the appointment of new Service Chiefs with General Irabor becoming the Chief of Defence Staff.

Major General Lucky Eluonye Onyenuchea Irabor was born on 5 October 1965 in Aliokpu Agbor, Ika South Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria. The senior officer gained admission into the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Kaduna as a member of the 34 Regular Course in 1983 and was commissioned Second Lieutenant on 28 June 1986 into the Signals Corps of the Nigerian Army.

 Major General Irabor attended several military and civil courses both locally and abroad. He attended Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC) for his Junior Staff Course in 1995 and Ghana Armed Forces Staff College Teshi, Accra Ghana for Senior Staff Course in 2000/2001 amongst other several military courses. The senior officer equally attended National Defence College in Bangladesh in 2010 and Harvard Kennedy Schools of Government and Executive Education, USA in 2012 and 2017 respectively. 

Others include United Nations and African Union Peace Keeping Courses and Conferences as well as a seminar on Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism at the European Centre for Security Studies in Garmish, Germany.

 Major General Lucky Irabor is a trained Engineer from Obafemi Awolowo University and holds two Masters Degrees from University of Ghana, Accra and Bangladesh University of Professionals, Dhaka.

 The Honours and Awards that Major General Irabor earned in the course of his career include Forces Service Star (FSS), Meritorious Service Star (MSS), Distinguished Service Star (DSS) and Grand Service Star (GSS). Others include Command Medal and Field Command Medal (FCM). 

He was also awarded the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) peacekeeping medals for operations in Sierra Leone and Liberia as well as medals for United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).


Major General Lucky Irabor has held several appointments in the course of his career. Notable amongst which are Nigerian Defence Academy Adjutant, Commanding Officer 515 Signal Regiment, Commander 53 Signals Brigade and Principal Staff Officer to the Chief of Army Staff. Others include Coordinator Nigerian Army Aviation, Deputy Theatre Commander/Land Component Commander Operation Lafiya Dole, Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole, Force Commander MNJTF, Chief of Defence Training and Operations and until his appointment as the Chief of Defence Staff was the Commander Training and Doctrine Command Nigerian Army.


Major Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, Chief Of Army Staff

New COAS is a courageous, innovative officer. On assumption of duty as Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole on 30 May 2017, Gen Attahiru quickly carried out evaluation of the operational situation of the theater. The evaluation led to the crucial decision to swiftly establish Fire Support Coordination Cell (FSCC) which was employed continuously to degrade Boko Haram in their enclaves and staging areas.

 The FSCC carried out artillery and aerial bombardments in conjunction with the Air Component of Operation Lafiya Dole on isolated Boko Haram enclaves killing several BHT and destroying their logistic bases.

An offshoot of the evaluation is the destruction of dugouts along BHT crossing points to deny the group, freedom of action and stem the conduct of their nefarious activities.

 Also, under his short reign the theatre was rejigged with the inauguration of Mobile Strike Teams (MSTs) in August 2017 to reinforce the Mobile Brigade Concept (MBC) adopted in the Theatre to facilitate attacks on Boko Haram. 

To improve general operational vibrancy and troops’ responsiveness, he set up a Special Forces In-theatre Training Team in August 2017.

He was unit Adjutant, 7 Battalion Nigerian Army, Sarti.  Chief of Staff, 1 Brigade Nigerian Army, Sokoto. General Staff Officer Grade 1 Training/Operations and as well as Staff Duties/Plans at the Headquarters 1, 2 and 81 Divisions of the Nigerian Army. 

He was Deputy Director Military Secretary 2 at the AHQ MS (A) and one-time Director Army Public Relations and Spokesperson of the Nigerian Army. 

He was later Director Staff Duties and Deputy Chief of Policy and Plans at the Army Headquarters.  He was equally privileged to serve as Chief of Defence Transformation and Innovation and Chief of Defence Logistics at the apex organ of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, Defence Headquarters Abuja. 

  In that position he worked with the US Defence Logistics Agency on the Vertically Integrated Logistics Approach (VILA) Programme towards enhancing the operational readiness in the Armed Forces of Nigeria. 


Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, CHIEF OF NAVAL STAFF

Gambo was the Military Assistant to a former Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Ola Sa’ad, former Defence Adviser of Nigeria to South Africa before he was posted to Defence Space Administration as a Director. 

Rear Admiral Zubairu Gambo was born on 22 April 1966 and hails from Nasarawa LGA of Kano State. He enlisted into the Nigerian Navy on the 24 September 1984 as a member of Regular Course 36/and was commissioned sub-Lieutenant on 24 September 1988.

He is an underwater Warfare specialist with sub-specialization in intelligence. 

The Senior Officer has attended several military courses which include; Sub-Technical course and Officers course both at NNS Quorra. He also attended Junior Division 48/99 and Senior Course 26 both at AFCSC Jaji.

Other courses attended include The National Defence Course at the South African National Defence College. Until his appointment as the Chief of Naval Staff, he was the Director of Procurement at the Defence Space Administration.

The Senior Officer holds a PGD in Transport Management and a Masters Degree in Transport Management (Logistics Option) both from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology.

He is a member of the Nigerian Institute of Management, Fellow of the Certified Institute of Shipping, Fellow of the Institute of Corporate Administration of Nigeria as well as Fellow of the National Defence College , South Africa.

The Senior Officer has been awarded the Grand Service Star GSS, Distinguished Service Star DSS, Passed Staff Course PSC and other several decorations and awards.

He is married to Hajiya Nana Aishat Gambo and the marriage is blessed with 3 children.


Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao, CHIEF OF AIR STAFF 

Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao was born on 14 September 1965 at Enugu. He hails from Oshogbo Local Government Area of Osun State, Nigeria. 

He enlisted into the Nigerian Air Force on 19 January 1984 as a member of 35th Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course and was commissioned as Pilot Officer on 20 December 1986. 

 He has the following academic qualifications: Master of Science (MSc) in Defence and Strategic Studies from University of Madras India, Master of Military Science and Strategy (MMSc) and Advance Diploma in Defence and Strategy Studies from National Defence University (NDU) China, Post Graduate Diploma in International Relations and Diplomacy from Kaduna Polytechnic Nigeria, National Diploma in Freshwater and Fisheries Technology from Federal College of Freshwater and Fisheries Technology (FCFFT) New Bussa Nigeria and Nigerian Defence Academy Certificate of Education. 

Air Vice Marshal Amao has attended the following courses: Primary Flying Training, at 301 Flying Training School Kaduna Nigeria.  Basic Flying Training at 303 Flying Training School Kano Nigeria. Tactical Fighter Training at 99 Air Combat Training Group Kainji Nigeria. Instructor Pilot Course at 301 Flying Training School Kaduna Nigeria. Junior Staff Course at Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji Nigeria. Senior Staff Course at Defence Services Staff College Wellington India. National Defense Course at National Defence University China. Aircraft Accident Investigation Course at Karachi Pakistan. Aircraft Accident Investigation in Civil Airline at Nigeria Civil Aviation Training School Zaria Nigeria.



 Air Vice Marshal Amao has held several appointments, which include:  Squadron Pilot at 99 Air Combat Training Group. Instructor Pilot at 301 Flying Training School.  Instructor Pilot at 303 Flying Training School.  Air Assistant to Chief of Air Staff at Headquarters Nigerian Air Force. Deputy Defence Adviser (Air) at Nigerian High Commission London.

  Acting Defence Adviser at Nigerian High Commission, London.  Assistant Director Operations at Defence Headquarters Abuja Nigeria. Commander of 99 Air Combat Training Group. Commander of 75 Strike Group Yola Nigeria. 

Air Component Commander Operations Zaman Lafiya and Lafiya Dole. (North East Nigeria Operation). Deputy Theatre Commander (Air) Operation Lafiya Dole. Director of Policy at Headquarters Nigerian Air Force. Director of Training at Headquarters Nigerian Air Force. Director of Operations at Headquarters Nigerian Air Force. 

Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command Makurdi. Chief of Policy and Plans Nigerian Air Force. He is currently the Commandant Armed Forces Resettlement Centre, Lagos.


 Air Vice Marshal Amao’s decorations include: Force Service Star (FSS). Meritorious Service Star (MSS). Distinguished Service Star (DSS). General Service Star (GSS), General Service Medal (GSM). River Benue Star (RBS). Passed Staff College (PSC). Fellow National Defence University (FNDU) China. Qualified Flying Instructor (QFI). 

Air Vice Marshal Amao is a fighter instructor pilot with over 1500 jet and instructional hours. He is a recipient of the Chief of Air Staff letter of commendation for good leadership.

 He has participated in the following operations:

Draw Down of AFISMA operation in Mali. Operation Zaman Lafiya (North East Nigeria operations). Operation Lafiya Dole (North East Nigeria operations).

Other internal security operations in Nigeria.  Air Vice Marshal Amao is happily married to Mrs. Elizabeth Olubunmi Amao and they are blessed with 3 lovely boys. His Hobbies include are, reading, dancing, travelling, playing volley ball and golf as well as fish farming.